The Role of Government In Tourism
At a National scale the government sets a very broad agenda for tourism, they define primary goals for development and identify polices with broad strategies for their implementation. The main aim at this level is to encourage economic development, especially in LEDC’s as both local and international tourism can be very profitable. National tourism plans designate tourism development regions to help redistribute wealth, to create employment and to channel development into zones that have the appropriate attractions and infrastructure.
This broad planning and concentration on economic development is very clear in the case study of Ireland. IN 1993 1. 25 million people visited Northern Ireland and 10,000 were directly employed in the tourism industry. In Ireland there were about 3. 5 million visitors and over 90,000 people were employed in tourism. Then in December 1994 the British and Irish governments announced national tourism plans to market Ireland as a whole rather than two separate areas. In 1995 i??6. 8 million tourism incentive attracted 92,000 more visitors to the area, which in turn generated a further i??4 million in international aid.
This should help Ireland to develop economically and should create 30,000 new jobs. Such promotion has increased the confidence of private investors e. g. Hilton International built a i??17 million luxury hotel along the lagan river in Belfast, as part of a i??130 million investment scheme. At a regional scale the government has a much greater influence on specific tourism development issues. There is usually a greater level of concern over potential environmental impacts of tourism development, so therefore the government may constrain tourism development rather than totally encouraging it to protect the environment.
Also a more detailed consideration of the type and location of visitor attractions, together with supporting services such as accommodation are considered. Regional plans often provide strategies aimed at the concentration or dispersal of visitors, the planning of tourist information services, the designation of tourist routes and strategic placement of key attractions. Therefore the government may encourage a new, up and coming regional attraction or they may attempt to discourage use such as in the region of North Devon, where for example Braunton burrows is being discouraged from tourists, as it is a very fragile area.
This is done by restricting use to the car parks, placing ministry of defence signs and promoting the area of Saunton Sands, which will draw tourists out of the fragile location. Another example is the south west of England where the tourist boards of England and Wales (although they have no legally enforceable status) provide important frameworks for co-ordinating private and public sector development of tourism. They have to manage problems such as congestion and poor accessibility.
Local scale planning policies are focused on the physical organisation of tourism resources and facilities (accommodation, local, transport, catering and local attractions), the control of physical development (such as hotel construction) and management of visitors. These are mostly short-term plans and mostly deal with preventing or reducing conflicts in tourism and encouraging its development. The management of tourism is vital to the continued success of the industry.
The main aim of tourism is to be sustainable, because all tourism developments have the potential to damage the environment, the social structure or the economic stability of an area. The environment is particularly easy to damage if the carrying capacity of a tourist attraction is exceeded. This will lead to a series of problems, which will decrease the quality of the attraction and therefore discourage visitors from coming, which will then destroy the industry. So management is particularly important with environmental attractions with the main aim of keeping the number of people below the carrying capacity.
An example of this kind of management is Watersmeet in North Devon. Here there is careful management to prevent lots of visitors from coming to the location. There is a very limited car park, which requires a fee based on the length of time stayed. The lodge of Watersmeet is located away from the road and is not easily accessible to wheelchairs, elderly or buggies due to narrow steep paths and bridges. It is also deliberately badly signposted so that is difficult to find unless you specifically look for it. There are also no signs to encourage strolls along the footpaths to the surrounding villages to preserve the paths and bridges.
The culture and heritage of a location can also be damaged by tourism. Clovelly best illustrates this, as it is a ‘honey pot’ attraction in North Devon. This village was very popular with tourists and because of its size was overrun by the increase in numbers. This could have lead to the construction of new buildings such as hotels and restraints that weren’t in fitting with the existing culture and may have even replaced existing traditional shops. To prevent this kind of social damage the area is managed to restrict visitors and is closed to all traffic.
Development is also restricted in Clovelly to preserve the culture and traditional crafts of the area. All over North Devon there is a delicate culture that many tourists come to experience. To protect this especially in the National Park areas, it is managed so that any conflicts always favour the solutions that protect the environment, culture and heritage of the location. Surprisingly tourism can also damage the economic stability of an area, which at first sight is not thought of, as tourism is a profitable industry.
It requires a vast quantity of investment to set up a tourist attraction and then unless the project is carefully managed the attraction will loose money and either the owners or the local area will have to pay back the loan, upsetting the economy. Tourism also requires a lot of extra money to maintain the attractions, which can be wasted unless it is carefully managed and spent wisely. If the money is wasted and doesn’t properly restore the facility then it will loose business and the tourism industry will suffer.
Another problem with tourism is that the jobs it provides for the local economy are seasonal and not full time. This doesn’t help put money into the local economy as many of the residents require more permanent jobs and so seek employment elsewhere. The jobs provided are also often given to outsiders who then take their profits out of the location, not aiding the economy. Management, especially in the National Park and Heritage Coast of North Devon, ensures that those who profit from tourism are either from the immediate area, or are people who will use the money to help maintain or further tourist development.
This includes large companies such as the National Trust who plough profits back into the economy, this keeps the tourist industry afloat while also creating a stable economy. A big problem for the tourist industry is the infrastructure of the location and whether it can deal with the high numbers of visitors or not. It has to be carefully managed so that the tourists can get to the facilities and enjoy their stay without damaging the environment, or the cultural heritage of the attraction.
For example tourists need roads and accommodation to enjoy their trip, yet if this involves buildings a huge bypass then this will damage the environment and decrease the environmental quality of the area, this may lead to a decrease in visitors and a decline in the industry. Also a new hotel complex may be built for tourists yet this may replace a traditional shop or craft centre, which was originally a tourist attraction, so management is very important. Overall it is clear to see that unless a tourist area is carefully managed then it will be damaged which will mean les people visit the area and so the tourist industry will fail.