Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest growing global industries. In the 20th Century, the tourism industry experienced universal expansion that has obvious economic, social and political benefits. The benefits of tourism have been enormous especially for developing poor countries that have limited sources of foreign currency; it has an important source of income and employment. On the other hand however, the growth of that sector has been accompanied by negative impacts as well. As tourism market is remarkably dynamic, there is an impact for local economies, environment and society.
Examples of Malta and Gambia will help us to understand how tourism planning is developed in those countries through sustainability as well as the approaches of tourism planning for the better future of those countries. Firstly, it is important to understand the definition of sustainability. Brundtland as cited in C. Michael Hall defined sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
Trying to meet those needs is a primary political, economic and environmental issue as it puts demand on the new ways of thinking about the nature and purpose of development and growth. For instance, looking at Malta the centre of Mediterranean, that is seen as a sun-and- see travel destination. Tourism development in Malta begun in late 1950’s, attracting especially mass tourists during the summer time. However, after decent beginning and rapid growth the development went into stagnation.
Michael Hall identify two different types of planning ‘which lay at opposite ends of an autonomy-dependency continuum depending on where the planner or the planning agency lay within the planning system’; developmental and adaptive planning. With no expectations the planning is always related to policy making. Therefore, as stated by Cullingsworth(1997:5) ‘planning is the purposive process in which goals are set and policies elaborated to implement them’. Policy making is notably involved with government actions. Furthermore, governments are machinery of tourism which can help or not regarding to the tourism industry.
For instance, Malta’s Tourism Authority (MTA) has a huge impact on the regional tourism development. In 1999 the MTA took over the charge of NTOM, the Hotel and Catering Establishments Board (HCEB) as well as become committed in human resources. The key changes in new tourism administration were stated as: ‘visibility of the Malta brand in source markets; product upgrading; development of core service skills; the establishments of standards and regulation of the industry; the provision of relevant information to enable critical decision-making by the MTA itself, by the government and by the industry ( MTA, 2000a)’.
As a result, the new approach that was mainly directed not only to the main stakeholders in Malta but overseas operators and visitors as well. The strategic was directed into three principal areas; ’product development, re-imaging of the Islands and redefined marketing campaign. ’ In this perspective of those main areas Malta has started to develop their very fragmented product. Moreover, it was mostly concentrated on a dissimilar perception that was giving a wrong image of Maltese Islands.
In addition, different overseas MTA representative offices have shown varied advertising campaigns that gave a mixed image of Malta. Malta is seen as a destination of different activities for tourists from different countries. For instance, Malta is seen as a beach destination and a destination for elderly people for English tourists. However for French and Italian visitors it is a place witch a cultural treasures. Therefore, MTA has designed brand new image and logo of the Islands to create a more understandable vision of Malta for international visitors.
The new logo was trying to encourage the visitors to see more than they are aiming to experience. MTA has concentrated on the quality of product that was focused on the accommodation, activities and events as well as on beach development and country walks. The new way of marketing and promotion was a great economic approach. Therefore, the projects leading to upgrading the cultural heritage and the tourism infrastructure of Malta were funded; The Ministry for Tourism and Culture as well as MTA accessed founds that interference tourism.
However, the new approach for the changing the images of the Maltese Islands do not concentrate on local people. Undertaken actions conceal the actual picture of Malta that is most populated place in Europe as well as most of the tourists are young couples. The new image can easily direct to extremely negative effects; visitors realise that Malta is heavily build up with very busy life of local people. On the other hand there are a lot of beneficial impacts of tourism development in Malta. Tourism is Malta is giving a lot of employment as well as development of the island is highly seen.
Although there is a lot of aspects to improve; the real product as well as image has to be identified, more of the local stakeholders have to project instead of outside tour operators. The approach of governments has to be more affective in tourism development. It has to be identified that not only the rich culture, history and climate are the higher valued products of Malta but the most important and the more valuable are local people. Tourism in Gambia has an extremely important impact for country development and economy. Tourism is not only the source of income and government revenues but as well it gives opportunities of employment.
Gambia, the smallest country on the African continent that was known as a travel destination since 1965 went from steady growth through boosted development to lack of further development over last years. Limited financial and human resources as much as poor infrastructure at local stage are restricting tourism development in country. Number of visitors arriving Gambia was increasing until 1994 when military coup was held. However, after 1995 the tourism sector started to collapse and in addition Gambia lost market share and reminded static. The country economy did not develop at any stage since that time.
It could be necessary to note that problems Gambia is facing are strongly related to socio- economic and political issues inside the country. Important fact to point out is that agriculture is accounting approximately 75% of employment but merely 35% of GDP, where tourism accounts of 12% of employment with as much as 23% of GDP for the country( according to WTTC data). With regard to tourism planning and development there is a need to recognise two different phases of development. The first phase that happened between 1972- 1994 was significant in rapid increase of arrivals into the country.
Moreover, Gambia became dependent on a tourist markets especially from UK and Scandinavia. On the other hand tourism became highly seasonal; known as a winter-sun destination where over 80% of arrivals occurred between November to April. In this situation, the number of accommodation supply has increased. Furthermore, the government took a huge part of the tourism development by providing a wide variety of incentives for and controls on hotel development. The government created specific bodies responsible for policy development and implementation.
However public sector was very limited by lack of funding for tourism development and promotion therefore was mainly driven by the overseas private sector. Another example of critical changes in tourism development is second phase of the economy in Gambia. ‘Phase 2’ was held between 1995 and 2005. After the year of coup the tourism sector was still growing with record of 96,000 tourists in 1999. However, following the extremely growth in visitors the arrivals have tragically collapsed. Although it can be noticed that there was an increase of accommodation supply however most of the hotels remain under foreign ownerships.
On the other side the infrastructural development funded by an African Development Bank loan have included a $10 million beach recovery project, a $150,000 street lightning system as well as a new road bypassing Serrekunda that improved the access to the tourist areas. Moreover, the new terminal building was launched in the international airport. Meanwhile, during the period of ‘Phase 2’ large number of international operators have decreased. On the other hand the lack of data is a continuing problem regarding to economic value of tourism to the country.
Nowadays, few organizations (Responsible Tourism Partnership and Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism) have been created to work ‘towards developing a more responsible approach to tourism development’. Their main goal is to help small- scale businesses in participation and benefiting from tourism industry. It can be said that the Gambia’s tourism policy for 1995-2000 have created ambitious targets such as increasing the arrivals numbers to 150,000, accommodation supply growth to 10,000bed spaces and the aim to change the direction from mass charter tourism to more individual and special interest groups tourism.
Furthermore, the new ‘Master Plan’ from 2005 that has been concentrated on developing tourism industry sets out the new route for tourism development until 2020. Moreover, it is already recognising lack of progress and can be said that Gambia’s development project has already entered the ‘lost decade’. It is clear from the above that Gambia both as a country and a tourist destination has a limited market that is restricted by climate, lack of facilities as well as health requirements. Furthermore, Gambia is not rich either in natural or cultural attractions that could appeal to tourist’s interest.
Also Gambia could be taken as an expensive destination where tourists are entitled to pay arrival taxes. On the other hand, it could not be said that many efforts have been taken to develop tourism in the Gambia. Consequently, GTA (Gambia Tourism Authority) provides motivation to prospective developers as tax breaks and ‘free’ land subjected to future development and a 50-year lease on that land. In conclusion, without expectation that approaches to tourism planning are extremely important aspects for tourism development in each country.
It has been identified that five certain mechanism by which long-term approach to tourism development can be achieved; cooperative and integrated control systems, development of industry coordination mechanisms, raising customer awareness, raising producer awareness and strategic tourism planning to supersede conventional approaches (Dutton and Hall; 1989). Tourism requires certain approaches as well as appropriate managements to operate at higher levels to sustain tourism development process in both of the counties.
Malta as well as Gambia need to look forward the future and ask themselves what do they want gain for the new tourism planning and future development. It is not an exception that it is going to be an easy task for both of those countries, especially for Gambia who is one of poorest countries in the world. Each of those countries has to find new strategies of tourism planning as well as new, better direction for tourism development where local people and local investors are involved in the complete project of gaining benefits from tourism planning. Bibliography Hall, C.
Michael (2000) Tourism Planning: Policies, Processes and Relationships Gunn, Clare A. (3rd edition) Tourism Planning: Basics, Concepts, Cases Keyser, Heidi (2002) Tourism Development Hall, C. Michael and Page, Stephen J. (1999) 2nd edition; The Geography of Tourism and Recreation: Environment, Place and Space References Hall, D. , Smith, M. , Marciszewska, B. (2006) Tourism in the New Europe: Challenges and Opportunities of EU Enlargements; Chapter 17; Theuma, Nadia (2006) Malta: Re-imaging the Mediterranean Destination Sharpley, Richard; Developments in Tourism Research; Chapter 4; Tourism in The Gambia- Ten Years On