Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Examining Bermuda: Tourism Planning Essay

The beautiful island of Bermuda is a ‘fish hook’ shape island located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 575 miles east of North Carolina. Bermuda is considered by many to be a wonderful tourist destination with turquoise waters and first class accommodations and activities. Perhaps we never knew that Bermuda is actually composed of over 100 islands. We might also not have known that due to the Gulf Stream, Bermuda has the most northerly coral reefs in the world. Bermuda technically is a British colony, but they have been self-governed since 1620. When we examine the island of Bermuda from the viewpoint of the tourism industry, we can learn much from Bermuda’s successes as well as their attempts to revitalize their tourism industry. Hold on to your shorts as we examine tourism policy planning in a pink sand paradise. (www. bermudatourism. com) In looking at Bermuda for the purposes of tourism policy planning we are initially reminded of how many positive realities we can see in the Bermuda tourism picture. Needless to say, tourism is obviously a major part of Bermuda’s economy. Bermuda is an interesting case study in that they were considered the ideal model for a narrowly defined tourist destination, but in the early 1990s fell into less prosperous times. Perhaps one could say that when it came to making money from the tourism market, Bermuda became too ‘fat and happy’ for their own long-term good. Michael V. Conlin sheds more light on this phenomenon when he writes in his case study on Bermuda tourism that â€Å"notwithstanding the long-term success of its tourism industry, Bermuda experienced a significant deterioration of its visitor count beginning in the early 1990s that had a serious impact on the country as a whole. † (Conlin, p. 1). By studying ups and downs of the tourism economy in Bermuda and the unfolding of Bermuda’s tourism committee work, we can hopefully learn some lessons to enable us to practice more successful and responsible tourism in the future. Bermuda is considered a mature international tourist destination that usually is quite successful and economically prosperous. By the middle of 1992, however, â€Å"Bermuda’s tourism leaders had recognized that Bermuda’s tourism industry was not immune to the economic climate or, indeed, to the changes that were taking place in the global tourism marketplace. † (Conlin, p. 13). One of the changes that was taking place in the global tourism marketplace was that technological advances and increases in personal wealth were greatly boosting the tourism industry. In light of the great global growth of the tourism industry, we should obviously see the need for more sophisticated planning and management in the this industry. In this light we can begin to see that tourism planning in many cases needs to be an ongoing, flexible, and continually evolving process. Perhaps this revelation was something that the Bermuda tourism board never sincerely grasped or believed until the 1990s. Once this revelation was understood, the Bermuda tourism authorities were in position to take steps to address the critical issues and problems that were eroding their prosperity and market position. By the time the year 1992 arrived, we could say that the Bermuda tourism board was ready to do some serious tourism planning! When it comes to tourism planning we can say that there are believed to be two sides to the planning process as well as the need for a type of corporate planning model. Indeed, Conlin writes that â€Å"planning within the tourism industry takes place at both the micro level and the macro level. † (Conlin, p. 2) Macro level planning can be defined as dealing with the growth of tourist destinations as geographic, political, and social units. In terms of the island of Bermuda, we can learn that â€Å"many islands are particularly susceptible to the to the consequences of poor planning given their small size and the relatively greater impact that tourism can have on their development. † (Stonich, 1995). Conlin seeks for us to understand that â€Å"increasingly, the failure to plan will not simply be a cosmetic issue but a more fundamental economic, ecological, and social concern. † (Conlin, p. 4). The micro level of tourism planning could be said to involve specific actions that operators undertake once they have honestly evaluated the realities of their business activities. In one sense, this is where a strategic planning and goal planning model are put into place. Conlin writes that ideally this model will be â€Å"based on the goal of matching an organization’s strengths with the market opportunities presented by a changing external environment. † (Conlin, p. 3). In this model we will see such elements as a mission statement, stakeholder analysis, implementation, and strategic control. We might say that macro level planning in the tourism industry is ultimately concerned with the growth and sustainability of a tourism destination. On the whole, we can say that when it comes to successful tourism planning at the micro and macro level there is the need to â€Å"match product, price, location, and management expertise with the market and its expectations in a way that will attract investment. Increasingly, this is done with the needs of the host community as a major focal point. † (Conlin, p. 5). In this case, the host community is, of course, Bermuda, with its turquoise waters, pink sands, and tempting culinary delights. Let’s continue on to see how these concepts were applied specifically to the case of Bermuda in the 1990s. We have already begun to see that â€Å"as Bermuda’s tourism industry moved into the 1990’s, it was characterized by a sense of complacency, a reluctance to innovate, a decreasing level of service quality, and a deteriorating physical plant. † (Conlin, p. ). At this point the tourism planning committee needed to make some changes to move Bermuda from being stagnated and losing market share to a place of revitalization and wisdom for the future. In 1992 they created the Commission on Competitiveness which was to examine the status of tourism and international business on the island. The commission was to explore new areas for economic stimulus. Conlin writes that â€Å"the mandate of the commission reflected a broad concern about national economic well-being in a rapidly changing international marketplace. † (Conlin, p. 15). The Commission on Competitiveness had representatives from the tourism industry, from the public sector, from educational fields, and from international business firms. â€Å"To achieve a high level of community involvement, the Tourism Planning Committee created 16 task forces under the leadership of prominent local stakeholders. At any given time, this structure resulted in approximately 120 persons being actively involved in the process of examination. It was truly a community activity. † (Conlin, p. 16). Some of the important findings of the Tourism Planning Committee include understanding the following conclusions: Bermuda is a model for developing tourism as a basis for a prosperous economy. Its past success should provide confidence that Bermuda tourism can improve in the future. The economy and quality of life in Bermuda are dependent upon tourism. Changes in world tourism, including new products, choices, and competition, will dictate many of the circumstances to which Bermuda will have to adapt. The cruise ship visitor cannot replace the stay over visitor for economic impact on the island. Bermuda’s tourism product is overpriced compared with some of its competitors, and it does not satisfy the price-value expectations of visitors. Bermuda must accept the need for fundamental change. It cannot dictate the terms of world tourism. This will require significant investment of resources and effort. There are no simple, single, or quick fixes for improving the tourism industry in Bermuda. Conlin,1995). When we assess the actions taken by the Commission on Competitiveness we can see that their work was arguably thorough, with many valuable conclusions and recommendations. We should not be surprised that the actual implementation of these recommendations was slow in process. Conlin writes that â€Å"the process of adoption was slow and involved trade-offs between competition interests. † (Conlin, p. 17). In this situation we can see that when it came to revitalizing the economic conditions in Bermuda there existed â€Å"an underlying theme of a call to a greater degree of public participation. (Haywood, 1988,p. 105). In this vein, we can also learn about what has come to be called ‘community inclusive tourism planning’. Involving the community in tourism policy planning often has positive consequences for policies being adopted and eventually successfully implemented. Including the community results in an increase in communication between the policy makers and the public, but this new relationship also carries with it the responsibility to carry on this communication and deal with the outcomes of policies and strategies. With growing concern about the environmental and social impacts of tourism, planning also has become more integrated (Gravel, 1979) and has matured to the point where it must consider the impact of tourism development on a number of fronts, not just site-specific economic sectors. (Conlin, p. 6). In this decade, all of us have become familiar with the going green movements, so it should not surprise us to hear that there is a call for more inclusive policy planning in the tourism industry. As we near the end of our brief look at the unfolding of tourism policy planning in Bermuda, we can also learn about the destination life cycle theory of tourism development. According to Conlin, â€Å"the product life cycle continues to play an important role in marketing management, including applications to the hospitality industry. † (Conlin, p. 5). The idea of adapting one’s approach to changing situations brought on by the stages of the product life cycle, when applied to tourist destinations, is called the destination life cycle theory. (Conlin, p. 5). A. M. Morrison described the life cycle as: The product Life Cycle idea suggests all hospitality and tourism services pass through four predictable stages: (1) introduction, (2) growth, (3) maturity, (4) decline. Marketing approaches need to be modified with each stage. Avoiding a decline is the key to long-term survival. Atlantic City, New Jersey is a great example of a travel destination that went through one life cycle (from a fashionable to a rather seedy seaside resort) and then got a completely new lease on life as an exciting gambling destination. Morrison, 1989). We see that through the efforts of the Tourism Planning Committee the island of Bermuda had the opportunity to revitalize and reposition itself to have its own ‘new lease on life. We learned that even though a tourist destination may be considered to be mature, ideal, beautiful, and economically prosperous, there may and almost certainly will be the need to address declining and/or changing market position and then take wise and strategic steps to rejuvenate itself. We also hopefully learned that tourism planning should be community-based, especially in a place such as Bermuda where the population is considered to be a major part of the tourism product. Mark Twain once wrote of Bermuda â€Å"the deep peace and quiet of the country sink into one’s body and bones and give the conscience a rest†¦Ã¢â‚¬  For anyone going to Bermuda, we wish you all the best in your activities and in your personal encounter with the deep peace and quiet of the island.

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