Tourism??????????? What is tourism? This word seems to be very familiar with us now a days. Yes, you are right. The very nature of tourism as a fragmented, diverse product , spread over many industries and comprising both intangible and tangible elements, means that it is a difficult sector to define. ( source: Tourism Principles and Practice, Fourth edition, Chris Cooper, John Fletcher, Alan Fyall, David Gilbert and Stephen Wanhill)
As part of our aim of seeking to uncover ever deeper understandings of tourism and the relationships and entanglements it shares with the cultures it both occupies and generates it is important that we continue to explore various contextual geographical realities and imaginaries. Whatever imprecisions may surround the definition of the Middle East and North African region, it is a fascinating and important area to interrogate tourism and cultural change. It is a region long travelled which bears many markers of ancient tourism and hospitality. So, too, particularly in the Gulf States, does it display the drama and spectacle of what may call hyper-modernity. It is a vast region sharing commonalities of history, culture, language and religion which mark it as highly distinctive and yet intimately connected to the wider world in more nuanced and sometimes contested ways. ( source: Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change Vol. 8, No.4, December 2010, 223-224.)
Since historical times, tourism activity is a relatively new development and only recently has been considered worthy of serious business endeavour or academic study. However the tourism sector is of sufficient economic importance and its impact upon economies, environments and societies is significant enough for the subject of tourism to deserve academic consideration. There is no doubt in our minds that tourism is a subject area or domain of study but that at the moment it lacks the level of theoretical underpinning that would allow it to become a discipline. Nevertheless, the popularity of tourism and the recognition of it by the governments, has accelerated tourism to expand on a vast level. Tourism shows signs of maturity with a growing academic community, increasing numbers of both journals and text books which are becoming specialised rather than all- embracing and a number of professional societies both internationally and within individual countries. ( source: Tourism Principles and Practice, Fourth edition, Chris Cooper, John Fletcher, Alan Fyall, David Gilbert and Stephen Wanhill)
Various forms of tourism have evolved to cater to the desires and demands, healthy and unhealthy, that define the many niches that exist among consumers. The different types of tourism may include the following: back pack tourism, sex tourism, cruise tourism, trek tourism, heritage tourism, slum tourism, refugee tourism, spiritual tourism, gourmet tourism, medical tourism, green tourism, etc. Over the last 25 years, we have been assailed by a growing tourism lexicon that includes terms such as “eco tourism”, “sustainable tourism”, “pro- poor tourism” etc. Often they begin with a sound basis, and good intentions, and often, soon enough, are debased as the tourism industry subsumes them for their own advertising and promotion without genuinely altering the face of their offerings in the light of what was originally meant. ( source: by: D’Mello, Ceasar. Contours, Jan2008 Anniversary Book, Vol. 17/18 Issue 4/1, p8- 16, 9p).
Along with the transport and the accommodation sector, attractions form one of the central components of tourism providing a vital element in the visitor’s enjoyment and experience. Attractions are central element in terms of what tourists visit at destinations as well as being something they may visit en route a destination. In many respects, they are the lifeblood of a destination ,because they are a part of appeal , ambience, and overall experience that visitors seek to consume in areas they visit. One of the major problems in identifying attractions is that they are patronized by tourists, but in terms of the scale and volume of visits, they are dominated by leisure and day trippers as well as local residents. In this respect the market for attractions is large and forms a vital part of the infrastructure of the destination area. ( source: Tourism Management, managing for change, Third Edition, Stephen J.Page).
Attractions provide a vital nucleus for visitor spending in destinations, and when they are linked to regeneration strategies, they can be harnessed to create a new image and help reposition the city as a place to visit. A successful attraction industry is vital for a healthy tourism sector so that visitors have sufficient opportunity to undertake visits and to spend during their stay. Attractions are also a major draw for many visitors , and urban regeneration strategies by public and private sector agencies have pinned future tourism development around such hubs of visitor attraction activity. In many successful urban regeneration schemes where tourism has been a key component, visitor attractions and the creation of a visitor environment around these attractions has contributed to the success of the regeneration scheme. Yet, one of the main problems in examining visitor attractions is in defining what comprises an attraction. ( source: Tourism Management, managing for change, Third Edition, Stephen J.Page).
For many tourist destinations around the world, it is their attractions that often serve as the catalyst for tourist visits. Attractions are numerous, diverse, fragmented geographically and often have limited resources at their disposal for purposes of management.
Attractions provide the single most important reason for leisure tourism to a destination. Many of the components of the tourist trip – for example, transport and accommodation – are demands derived from the consumer’s desire to enjoy what a destination has to offer in terms of “things to see and do”. Thus a tourist attraction is a focus for recreational and, in part, educational activity undertaken by both day and stay visitors that is frequently shared with the domestic resident population. Every region and every town boasts of at least one attraction, adding to its appeal as a destination. Attractions often have an explicit educational purpose, are often central to the protection , or in fact creation, of cultural identities, and can contribute to the conservation and protection of many historic sites. This variety of ” sense of purpose” is important in that it helps explain why attractions are often so difficult to manage, especially those that fall within the domain of the public sector, such as museums. They often have to accommodate the numerous wishes of their stakeholders , the various expectations of different visitor groups , meet the needs of owners or trustees, and serve on occasion as “attraction icons” for national governments in international marketing strategies.
There are many examples where attractions have played a catalytic role in the regeneration of an area or destination . The success of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the National Museum of New Zealand and its contribution to the development of Wellington as a destination are two examples of “best practice”. Such ionic or “flagship” attractions can be used to pull in visitors, meet needs of local residents, and develop stronger tourism activities within the destination. While a destination rarely survives long term on the basis of one attraction, it can be the key to pump-primer in more sustainable development of a destination.
The fact that tourist attractions may be shared with the host community can give rise to conflict in popular destinations, where tourism is perceived to cause problems of crowding, traffic congestion, environmental damage and litter. There can thus be little doubt that the management of tourist attractions is a challenging activity with so many publics to please.