10 Most Important Steps Involved In Tourism Planning – Explained!

There are several processes or analysis of a plan for tourism development. It is very important that these processes are properly adhered to. The description of these planning processes as given here can only be briefly indicative and limited to mere suggestions of the topics or steps without entering into detailed analysis.

Any plan must take into account these processes if it is to attain objectives in a given period of time. The main steps or phases in the planning process are as follows:

(a) Assessment of tourist demand and supply;

(b) Establishing objectives;

(c) Territorial planning;

(d) Basic infrastructure;

(e) Financial planning;

(f) Human resource planning;

(g) Administrative structure;

(h) Marketing and promotion

(i) Monitoring progress; and

(j) Time factor.

1. Assessment of Tourist Demand and Supply:

One of the early steps in planning is gathering information on the thing the way they are and on the potential available for desirable growth. One of the main problems in investigating the potential of tourism can be the simple lack of information.

Recording of information and the development of statistics is, therefore, of utmost importance. The important initial steps in evaluating a potential for tourism development lives in determining present status. An analysis of the present structure of demand and supply in tourism is a precondition of any other estimate.

This information base is a prerequisite for initiating tourism planning programme. In the first place there must be a survey of the tourist attractions of various types which the country has to offer.

Without a full study of the attractions a country possesses, it is not possible to plan for future expansion. It is, therefore, of fundamental importance that very careful assessment be made of all attractions- physical, cultural, historical – that a country possesses.

Peters lays down a number of principles on which assessment should be based.

1. It is highly desirable that the attractions should be developed progressively throughout the entire country so that tourism is spread as widely as possible. In this way the benefits which accrue from the industry are also widely spread and most parts of the country benefit.

2. Areas and attractions which are singled out for special development should appeal to the widest possible cross section of tourists over the longest possible season. By adhering to this principle, overdependence upon a particular season of the year will be avoided.

3. Priority should be given to those attractions which can be most easily and most successfully developed viz. those which can be based upon the existing infrastructural services and would require less finance.

4. Since it is very difficult, rather impossible, to develop all the potential attractions at the same time, it is important that similar or competing attractions should not be embarked upon until the volume of visitors can justify them.

5. It is important to know that the tourist is usually looking for something new; he desires new experiences, different environments, new thrills, etc. Any country possessing attractions which are unique or out of the ordinary should attempt to capitalise on these for they are likely to have a great drawing power.

Demand must then be estimated, for both national and foreign tourists. Both internal and external data on tourism activities affecting the area under consideration should be assembled.

This task should use published statistics on travel and tourism which are readily available from international and regional organisations. In addition travel and accommodation statistics can be assembled from the region under study.

Next the tourist supply must include all the different types’ of facilities additional to various type of accommodation establishment. Special attention must be given to the seasonal factor, i.e., the annual fluctuations in the demand as related to the country’s tourist attractions.

2. Objective Setting:

The initial data or the information thus gathered should develop a composite picture of what tourism can do for and to a particular area. In order to relate these projected results to a decision on whether to proceed with tourism development, there must be a basis for comparison.

This basis is the cumulative set of objectives which should be developed concurrently. Basically, objectives for tourism should be a sub-set of the overall objectives (either implicit or document) for the nation, its economy, people and the social structure within an area. There are, however, no hard or set rules as to what the objectives should be.

In general, however, tourism objectives should deal with growth leading to increased standard of living, employment levels, and opportunities for intellectual growth, enhancement of the investment potential in an area or country. Cumulatively, tourism objective should describe the set of conditions under which a favourable decision should be made.

If the data indicate that reasonable objectives for tourism development can be met, this will generally lead to a decision to proceed with a conceptual planning study. As a first step towards preparation of conceptual plan for tourism development, a market study begins with a determination of the type of tourism business which exists and can be expected.

Market study provides the basis for conceptual planning. The conceptual plan provides a general view of the future tourism development programme and the steps necessary to achieve targeted results. The various steps involved in conceptual planning, once the market survey has been performed, include:

(i) Statement of objectives

(ii) Selection of site

(iii) Requirements of various facilities

(iv) Supplementary attractions

(v) Land use allocation and control

(vi) Budgets and

(vii) Legislative requirements.

Preparation of master plan is another important step in planning. Master Planning is a process for completing and detailing additional work on the portions of the conceptual plan which are approved for further development. The differences between conceptual and master planning lie largely in the level of details involved.

Where conceptual planning, for example, might indicate the need to expand airport runways and terminal facilities, master planning would go into specifics on land and construction.

3. Territorial Planning:

The need will arise for locating each pole of tourism development so as to fit in with the general policy of territorial planning. Particular attention must be given here to natural and cultural assets of the country, while avoiding the damage which results from an unbalanced exploitation of their economic value.

The need for tourist territorial planning must be reconciled with the limits in place of industrialisation and urbanisation which, even though complementary to tourism, can constitute a serious danger to it. It will also be necessary to plan further tourism development in the selected zones in order to avoid excessive concentration in one area.

4. Basic Infrastructure:

If a tourism development programme is to succeed, it is necessary to provide life support through a number of infrastructure facilities and services. Infrastructure elements comprise the system of services and utilities which are necessary to the operation of a tourism destination.

The estimation of the basic infrastructure required for tourist expansion accordingly becomes a key economic factor in proceeding to the active phase of implementation.

This infrastructure will be either specifically touristic in nature, e.g., transport, or more general, such as energy producing units, and will in any case relate with the type of tourism envisaged. The requirements for infrastructure will vary for different areas.

The requirements, for example, will be different for a mountain resort and for a tourist pole adjacent to some cultural attraction. The requirements will be for both tourists and local residents. As various agencies are responsible for the development of infrastructural services, coordination is very essential.

Without coordination, different elements of infrastructure may infringe upon others resulting in wasteful expenditure. Specific areas of infrastructure are power, water communication, sewage and drainage, roads and highways, parks, recreation and health care facilities.

5. Financial Planning:

Financial planning is very essential for a successful tourism development plan. Before any major attraction facility of a destination gets into full swing, considerable expenses are involved. There follows the study of a vital element in tourist development, that is, the financing of both infrastructure and superstructure.

Assessing the cost of the project is relatively easy when compared to assessing benefits. There may be a choice of locations or a choice of techniques. Estimates must be made for each choice within a feasible range.

Each proposal must be assessed separately to establish its feasibility, cost benefit and degree of priority in making a plan. Agencies concerned with the development of an optional national investment programme should compare investment in tourism facilities and related infrastructure with alternative investment opportunities in other sectors.

In World Bank Group Operations, this comparison is attempted on the basic of economic rates of return for well defined investment proposals. In evaluating tourism investment, the World Bank Group pays very close attention to the projected financial results. In general, tourism, projects financed by the World Bank Group are justified in terms of both their economic impact and their financial viability.

In the case of the countries which already possess an active tourism industry or have a potential for increased tourism development, finances for investment will usually be available readily. However, in the case of developing countries, which are anxious to develop tourism, due to financial constraints, the provision of adequate resources of capital may be difficult.

The development of tourism sector will be only one of the numbers of options for development before a government, since government resources will inevitably be inadequate for all the competing claims upon them. In view of this the proposed investment in tourism must be justified in terms of its anticipated contribution, to the economic development of the country.

Except in centrally planned economies, such as in countries like CIS, Poland, Yugoslavia, public investment will be supported by private investment as happens in mixed economies like France,

Italy and India, The government may take the initiative in project development, but it will expect private investment support. If the government in anxious to develop and promote an active tourist industry it will help the private investor to the maximum extent.

This can be done first, by creating a favorable climate for investment and, second, by assisting private investor to consider tourism development as an attractive investment proposition.

This could be done by way of offering special financial incentives such as subsidies, tax concessions, preferential rates of interests, credits, special facilities for purchase of land, etc. All these investment incentives in some form or the other encourage private investment in tourism sector.

In addition public and private finance, foreign capital also plays an important role in tourism development programmes. Attention will have to be given to financial means and facilities designed to attract foreign capital.

A basic obligation at this stage will be the calculation of the output capital ratio, which will depend for the most part on the external economies which can be achieved. Foreign investment is usually welcomed by many developing countries, largely because of their own acute shortage of capital resources.

6. Human Resource Planning:

Efficient and professional management is an obvious prerequisite of successful tourism development. Of equal importance, however, is the quality of staff training, which is often relatively neglected during the early stages of tourism sector development.

Tourism basically being a service business, a developing destination must take the necessary steps to build a pool of efficiently trained manpower to fill various jobs which will be created subsequently.

A variety of jobs will have to be created to look after and manage various tourist services. Special attention, therefore, will have to be given to needs in manpower and personnel to be trained and rendered qualified for the various tourism professions.

Special care has to be taken to ensure that there will be no shortage of trained manpower in case there is expansion of facilities and services. In the case of a developing country, it will also be appropriate to study at this stage the volume of manpower required for activities complementary accommodation industry, in particular in the commercial sector.

In planning for human resources development, programmes should be established to screen and train prospective employees so that they could acquire both attitudinal as well as technical skills, characteristics contribute to an employee’s success in tourism position and include pride, flexibility, adaptability and judgement.

Technical skills required include facility and equipment operation and maintenance, financial management, food and beverage production and service, personnel management and administration and system analysis and design. In order to determine the need for various personnel required, a staff planning exercise may be done.

This involves a series of steps which include job analysis, preparing job descriptions, job specification and preparing staff forecast. This sequence of activities leads to a detailed of exactly what types of persons, with which specific qualifications and skills will be required at all major facilities within the tourist destination.

All this helps in determining the development of requisite education and training programmes within the country for local residents. This will also help in determining whether there is a need for trained personnel from other countries and also whether local people are to be sent for training elsewhere.

7. Administrative Structure:

Next comes the necessity of setting up an adequate administrative organisation to look after various aspects. If a tourism programme is to succeed, the responsibility of success must be assumed by some entity in the form of an organisation. This organisation should have a charter and resources appropriate to carry out various functions.

Many countries have established special department or agencies to manage and coordinate tourism programmes.

Depending upon the economic, social and political structure in the country, the tourism organisation may be a governmental department, a semi-government agency in the form of corporation supported by government but operating outside its organisational structure.

It may also be a private sector organisation with government support and recognition. Whatever form the tourism organisation takes, it needs to exercise its authority and responsibility in the sphere of tourism development.

The administrative organisation looks after both the legal aspects, i.e., the preparation of the legislation required for the installation of the various tourism services, dealing with such matters as the classification of hotels or the control of travel agencies, etc. It has various departments for planning, marketing, research, training, legal and administrative service.

8. Marketing and Promotion:

The final stage of the plan is concerned with the preparation of promotional activities aimed at launching the new tourist industry both within and outside the country.

The main concern of tourists is having an enjoyable and pleasant experience rather than details associated with planning their journeys. Most of the tourists leave these details to travel professionals and intermediaries who look after all the details to travel plans.

Contacts with and support of travel professionals and intermediaries are among the most important factors for successful marketing and promotion of tourist destination.

Facilities and specialities of travel professionals include national tourist offices, regional travel promotion organisation, and airlines including other carriers, tour wholesalers, tour operators, travel agents, travel clubs and convention and conference organisers.

The various channels of communication used to inform and stimulate include tourist literature in the form of catalogues, brochures and folders, direct mail, advertising, public relations and publicity.

All these media are selected and organised into promotional campaigns aimed at selling to consumers and travel professionals and intermediaries.

The media campaigns are timed in such a way that these correspond with the selling efforts supporting a destination. It is very important to ensure that these activities match the level of tourist development to be achieved.

9. Monitoring Progress:

Monitoring the progress periodically is very crucial to get the best results. Preparation of a plan document is not an end in itself. The task of the planner does not end when a plan for three years, five years of seven years has been prepared. A system of constant revision and monitoring of the plan progress should be a part of the exercise of the planning.

Targets must be revised continually in the light of changing resources and other circumstances. To use a more elegant vocabulary, a plan is static and planning must be dynamic. Plans are interesting mathematical or literary or technical exercises that can be formulated with a great variety of methods and degrees of perfection.

Planning on the other hand is a diffuse but coherent process of making and revising decisions that must be closely attuned to the implementation of planned action. What is needed is a system of monitoring progress and mechanisms for constantly and rapidly adjusting to the changing conditions and circumstances.

10. The Time Factor:

Time factor is a very important element. The main purpose of developmental planning is to move towards self-sustaining growth; that is, to create a cadre of trained manpower, to increase knowledge of natural resources and their effective utilisation and to create institutions for enterprising investment.

All this takes time. The plan could be for 25 years, 10 years, 7 years or 5 years duration. Many planners are of the view that the first development plan should be a 10-year plan, as it requires an assessment of long term perspective.

Time is a fundamental factor in the preparation of the plan and in the identification of the objectives to be attained upon its termination. The medium-term plan ranges between three and seven years with five years as the most popular choice. The long term ranges upwards from 10 years to 25 years.

The short-term plan on the other hand is an annual plan which is the controlling plan, as it is the authorised document to check its possible achievements being matched by available resources year by year.

It is governed by the medium-or-long-term plan, which sets its direction. The annual plan is the operative document, while long-term or medium-term plans are merely a set of intentions. Thus the need for orienting the short-term plan budgets with the long-term or medium-term plan budgets is the core of planning process.

Time factor is the main element in the planning including planning tourism in any nation. It is vital to the prospect of achieving the economic and social expansion which is linked with tourism.

Tourism is receiving ever-increasing attention from national governments and from international developmental agencies. It can generate the much needed foreign exchange for financing other sectors of the economy of a developing country and also for bridging the trade gap.

In its broadest sense, tourism can do more to develop understanding among people, generate employment and raise the living standards than any other economic force known.

There is unlimited potential for tourism development. If properly conceived and executed such development will prove not only to be financially viable but will also prove to be of immense benefit to a country. Inadequate planning and development on the other hand, can increase probabilities of failure resulting in great loss.

It is perhaps much easier to have planned development in countries where there is potential which is only just beginning to be realised. However even in these countries with a long established and a highly developed tourist industry, some measure of planning is essential. Planning is essential for three main reasons:

1. Most countries, to a lesser or greater degree have planned economies and if tourism development is to be part and parcel of national economic development, then this sector of economy also should be subjected to planning.

2. The success of tourism development depends very largely upon appropriate facilities being available in the right place and at the right time and these can only be provided by adequate research into national tourist assets and markets. Research has a very important part to play in the future planning of tourism development.

3. Planning is required to ensure that the natural and man-made assets are conserved and protected to maintain tourist appeal, for lack of care and coordinated development may impair and even ruin those assets upon which the tourist industry in founded.

Submitted by : Professor Lajja, Category : Knowledge, Tag : Essay on Tourism