Why plan for tourism?

In many places in the world, tourism simply is an industry that sprouted from the need to derive economic benefit through the promotion of an attraction. In most cases, the growth was not based on any plan or clear direction. Tourism just happened to these communities.

A few basic knowledge about tourism
Unlike most economic activities where resources are harvested, goods and services are manufactured and products are shipped out to consumers, in tourism people flow to the consumable rather than the consumable flowing to them. The destination plus the amenities and services form the tourism product.

Large or small, near or far, willing or unwilling, tourism happens in communities everywhere in the world. It happens whenever an outsider comes to buy gas, shops, eats, spends the night or stays for whatever reason . They come, they stay awhile, they interact with community residents, they look around, check out the attractions, they may or may not spend money, and in the end, they leave having some kind of impression in the minds about the place they just visited.

Tourism is a double-edged sword. It can result to both negative and positive impacts. People tend to look at the economic impact and only discover its negative effects on the culture and environment years later.

Given that tourism happens in communities, the people should then ask themselves if they want tourism to happen to them (and result to uncontrolled development) or for it to happen for them.
In most cases tourism simply happens to a community, and this results to negative impacts that are often irreversible. Uncontrollable development is a result of lack or absence of a plan that provides the proper guidance for development. Places like Boracay, Puerto Galera and Baguio are classic examples of places where tourism simply happened. It may be true that economic benefit are being derived from the tourism industry, but the environmental degradation and cultural erosion cannot be ignored. These represent the price that was paid for tourism development.

Major advantages of planning

  1. Understanding the need of the stakeholders in terms of skills and knowledge to manage sustainable tourism projects
  2. Understanding of the elements of a successful tourism program
  3. Understanding of the benefits, as well as the potential negative impacts of tourism and consequently come up with measures to control or mitigate these impacts
  4. Stronger partnership with other groups
  5. Sound decisions pertaining to tourism development are made by an informed leadership
  6. Promotes a sense of pride and cooperation among stakeholders as they work together towards sustainable development
  7. Identifying major and minor players and the roles of each stakeholder in the success of the industry
  8. Identification of tourism resource potential and gaps
  9. Greater local acceptance and support
  10. Determining the philosophy and the guiding principles of sustainable tourism

If the choice is for tourism to happen for the community, then there is a need to plan. Planning provides a mechanism of control by the stakeholders and the people of the community. It serves as a blueprint for success and is built upon a consensus for a common goal.

This article was originally published in Chen Reyes-Mencias’ blog, Tourism and Environment
All photos are by Chen Reyes-Mencias