Tourism Truth?

Tourism Truth

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Presenting discussion of issues about tourism and popular misconceptions about their relative 'truth'

For the most part tourism presents the brighter side of destinations, cultures, economic conditions and peoples. And the only lens visitors have to gaze upon their newfound stomping ground is the lens of the place they left which is clearly not going to be the same as this new place. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, except a lot gets left out. So, without doubt, there are going to be surprises.

Prospective customers are not really being told everything they need to know about the place they are about to step off a plane into. Once that happens, they might be exposed to conditions in the place they really didn't come prepared for. And they can't leave too easily.

As we also have learned, there is a huge amount of false, mis —and dis —information on the WWW. It is propogated by certain governments and individuals soley to cause disruption and to break the democratic system, so to speak. This style of disseminating information has an agenda to undermine reality and truth along with contributing to a general malaise and fear amongst regular people. But, it is very hard to distinguish what is real in many cases because these people are so skilled at what they do.

But there are also issues about who controls the purse strings and, in most cases, this is not the destinations where tourists are being sent. Airlines, hotel chains and the large tour companies in feeder markets stand to make the most profit from selling tours. This leaves destination communities and peoples with much lower incomes from this arrangement despite the facts that they are the hosts and owners of [ the product ] being sold. In order for tourism to rightly benefit all stakeholders, there needs to be a more equitable distribution of wealth and profit. There needs to be a more fair and balanced approach.

In turn, this leads to a discussion about the role of tourism as a social and economic force and the sustainability of it. Tourism, in its present incarnation, is clearly not a sustainable product. Not for the entities selling it, not for tourists and certainly not for the destinations and communities where tourists arrive into. But what can be done to change this?

The truth is, there is no such thing as 'Tourism Truth'. Perceived 'Tourism Truth' is highly dependant on the point-of-view of the individual, and is therefore more akin to 'Beauty'.*

What, exactly, 'is' Tourism?

Tourism is actually too big and complex to fit within a single definition.

What is Tourism Truth?

What is really going on in the tourism sector? Its complicated.

It comes down to this: In destinations where environment, infrastructure and social structures are easily overwhelmed or compromised by too many tourists:

More, clearly, is not better. Avoiding overtourism and returning to first principles in an endemic COVID era. 'Careful what you wish for'.

Low value, short stay, high impact budget tourism is not the way forward, especially for these destinations at risk. Destinations at risk must find ways to reduce arrival numbers, and associated costs, while increasing visitor spend in destination; revenue (aka foreign exchange) that is not leaked back to outside entities. For many destinations, this may not be as difficult or disruptive as it sounds.

Inverting the pyramid

In 2002, Chandana Jayawardena spoke about a visitor "pyramid of tourism segmentation" with eco-tourists in the top tier, representing the smallest but most valuable segment. Destinations must direct tourism promotion towards long and medium-term stay-over visitors and Eco-tourists, which are seen as the most valuable in terms of economic contribution, and away from high impact, short-term, low value all-inclusive style of travel. Destinations must be more in control of which type of visitor is allowed to enter in order to increase the economic value of fewer visitors.

A note about tourism experiences

Local experiences need to be perceived as just as valid as distant ones. This has implications for attracting local visitors for 'staycations'.

About Official Government Travel Advisories

Are official travel advisories supplying enough information to be a completely reliable source?

Airlines & Aircraft Issues

Tourism connects the world by airline routes. Is the CO2 air travel generates worth it?

Are we there yet? How would we know?

Travellers set out to discover new worlds and the decision to travel is not one taken lightly. Travel is fun and engaging but it is also arduous and expensive. In a real sense, the act of travelling, in itself, is not pleasurable. At the end of it, the bleary-eyed, jet-lagged visitor arrives at this new vista full of expectation and desire for new and fulfilling experiences. When the traveller does arrive, what do they find? Is it what they expected? What is different and why?

The answers to the questions about 'truth in travel' are big and complex, ultimately there is no simple answer.

Arrival Statistics

Arrival numbers don't tell the whole story

Carbon offsetting

Most of us are aware of 'Carbon Offsetting' as a means to compensate for our fossil fuel burning climate impacts. Carbon offsets are a lot like paying a voluntary carbon tax and can be purchased anytime. Its unfortunate that they have been handled with such an awkward moniker because they are a way to invest in —or donate to, potentially beneficial climate projects around the world. The projects can take many forms from carbon sequestration to green energy to reforestation to helping communities.

Collaborative Tourism

Failing to collaborate is collaborating to fail.

Climate Change and Tourism

The time for studying and discussing is long past. Action, now, is the only way forward.

Community Involvement & Community Tourism

Now, more than ever, local communities are challenged to better their own economic standing. At the same time, these communities have unprecedented opportunities to make this happen. Research reveals that local people want to be more involved in planning tourism that involves their community but may not possess the proper tools to make this possible. A further problem will be engaging regular people to become involved in creating their future.

Crime and Tourism

When tourists hear about crimes committed, is the portrayal accurate? What were the circumstances? Should they be concerned?

Destination Marketing, Branding & Tourism Competitiveness

A destination has very much work to do to align with the perceptions and marketing framework that today's consumers have become accustomed to. All this may be to no avail if the fundamentals aren't right.

Fake News about Crime in the Caribbean, 2017

There is a pattern of the way stories about crime in the Caribbean region are promoted and promulgated. There is an 'inference' of a potential impact without this being stated directly, but it is enough to leave a negative impression.

See also: Caribbean Tourism and Crime in the Age of Information, 2017 (PDF)

Crime, specifically crime against tourists, is a primary concern for every traveller and every destination. This essay is an exploration of the relationship between crime, crime reporting and tourism. It is well known that media reporting can dramatically influence public perception of places, especially outside one's own home region. This becomes significant in decision-making when these places are are not well understood.

Especially when media reporting concerns crimes in these places, the perception of the place may become very negative. This perception of the place can turn many prospective visitors away.

Green Travel Certification

Green Certification is an important touchstone for many tourists but they are simply not available in many destinations. Do we need all the different systems? This brief overview is intended as a starting point to learning about 'green certification' programs.

Resident Attitudes

Visitors come and go. Residents are always present. Visitors can turn away from issues. Residents must face tourism impact on an ongoing basis. How do residents cope and how are they dealing with impacts? More and more, in fact, residents are reacting to tourism impacts. They see the costs as often greater than the benefits.

Selling Shore Excursions in Destination: Working 'with' the Cruise sector

A look at why cruiselines are so successful and in-destination strategies for tour guides to capture some of this market.

Selling Tourism

Understanding the tourism product or what the consumer is actually buying.

So, what is the future of travel?

It is now becoming more clear that the future will bring many changes in the ways people travel and experience the World. There will be no returning to the 'BAU' model, aka 'Business as usual'. To fall back to old ways will easily undo the tiny amount of progress in reducing carbon in the air and in the water that has been made.

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism is a catch phrase that includes many styles of tourism. To travel responsibly puts these principles into actions.

The Future of Community ... in Tourism and in Safety

Sustainable tourism and derivative forms of tourism including community tourism have been evolving for several decades. However there are issues which are potentially blocking adoption or development in basic ways. This article is intended to offer a different way to see how the relationship between different elements within communities will allow these communities and/or individuals to venture forth into offering tourism services in confidence and security in daily life. Getting at the core of these issues is central to advancing tourism as a community enterprise.

The Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model by Richard Butler

The concept of a recognizable cycle in the evolution of tourist areas is presented, using a basic s curve to illustrate their waving and waning popularity. Specific stages in the evolutionary sequence are described, along with a range of possible future trends. The implications of using this model in the planning and management of tourist resources are discussed in the light of a continuing decline in the environmental quality and, hence, the attractiveness of many tourist areas.

The Tourism Value Chain

A description of the full range of activities required to bring a product or service through the different phases of production (including physical transformation, and the input of various producers and services), in response to consumer demand.

Objective is to locate and build on win-win linkages and collaborations and/or re-position to spur economic opportunities and activity.

Thought Leaders in Responsible and Sustainable Tourism

A (nearly complete) resource for finding people who are making important contributions in the field of responsible and sustainable tourism research and education.

Tour Guide Training Research

Tour guides are a critical interface between the visitor and the destination, this person is really the destination's face to the visitor. The quality of the tour guide is often the difference between a good, or not so good, in-destination experience.

Travel Responsibly

Travel and responsible action are two sides of the same coin.

Travel Review Sites

Are travel review sites capable of representing destinations and suppliers without a bias? In a word, no.

Trust (nearly) Nothing! Verify (almost) Everything!

Ironically, in our modern age, we have access to virtually unlimited information but this does not infer we are improving our knowledge skills.

* See, for example: "There are two sides to every story —and then there's the truth" by Barry Popik, 2012 (@, 2021)

Of course, there's a lot missing here. Topics such as Benefitting local people, Cruise vs Sustainable Tourism, Greenwashing, Tourist safety and security and Visitor attitudes are yet to be covered.

© Alan Barry Ginn, July 2022 (January 2022) UN Sustainable Development Goals logo Trademarks are the property of their respective rights holder. Sale offer is for domain name only, does not include content. About Tourism Truth