Destination Marketing: Challenges and Ethical Limits in Tourism

Introduction

Beeton (2005) defines destination marketing as that market that promotes tourist destinations. It aims at marketing tourist destinations in different parts of the world with the objective of encouraging more tourists to have an interest and visit the particular area. Different countries have established organizations to help promote the tourism sector of these countries. A destination marketing organization is a company or organization that carries out destination marketing and competes with other organizations in other countries in order to gain as a large tourism market as possible.

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According to Buhalis (2006), destination marketing organizations in various countries must ensure that they promote their countries by creating good markets for tourist destinations. The organizations should work hand in hand with the tourist businesses like hotels, resorts, and other national tourist attraction agencies. This will help improve the efficiency of the destination markets, therefore, promoting the countries’ services.

How does destination marketing operate?

The main purpose of the destination markets is to promote the tourism sector in any country. Different countries have their own destination marketing strategies and all these operate on the SWOT analysis basis. This means that for a destination market to achieve its desired objectives, the marketing organization must be able to establish the country’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats which are distinct between countries. These are some of the factors that promote the markets and ensure a sufficient tourism sector (Gartrell 1994).

Murphy (2004) argues that having enough information on these factors creates competitive markets and helps countries have a strong marketing base. Some of a country’s strengths include beautiful landscapes, good cultural activities, affordable prices for tourists, and other external and internal physical features of a country. The weaknesses may be poor environmental factors due to negligence, political instability, poor infrastructure, and unfriendly cultures and practices. Opportunities are those factors that make a country capable of bringing tourists. They include the availability of proper technology or sufficient and experienced staff. Threats on the other hand include improper planning for the future tourism sector, continued environmental pollution, and lack of proper support from the government. When the SWOT analysis is carried out, it becomes possible to properly support the tourism sector through destination marketing.

Challenges facing destination markets

It is important that destination marketing organizations work towards achieving their desired goals and objectives. Various issues come up which tend to affect the performance of the destinations markets and it is important that the organizations identify the challenges that may be arising and hence be able to derive solutions for these problems. Some of the major issues arising in most countries’ destination markets are (Fyall 2005):

  1. Knowing and understanding the needs of tourists. Every now and then countries get new tourists and it is important that marketing organizations get to clearly know the needs and expectations of the different people.
  2. Data analysis is also a critical aspect to look into while carrying out destination marketing. This is in terms of the number of destinations in relation to the number of tourists that are interested in visiting the country. The destination marketing organizations are faced with the challenge of trying to balance the data to ensure that both the country and the tourists benefit from the visits.
  3. There are various countries that have different destinations for tourists and each country must aim at promoting its markets in order to attract many tourists. Destination marketing organizations must therefore come up with proper strategies for attracting customers and therefore overcome the high competition. When an organization is not able to effectively pre-determine the competition created by other organizations in other countries, then it is likely to lose its clients to the other countries.
  4. Just like in other economic sectors, the tourism sector is as well affected by changes in technology. Destination marketing organizations and other tourism bodies are constantly faced with the challenge of managing the changes in technologies. Expertise is required in the management of the sector and there is a need to ensure that the tourists are provided with the best. This means that the sector must keep its activities up-to-date with the current advancement in technology. This includes providing innovative products and all this requires great skills and understanding of the sector.
  5. Another major challenge comes in while trying to enhance co-operation between the different tourism organizations. It is clear that the destination marketing organization plays an important role in creating sufficient markets for countries. Other tourism bodies must respect the role of the organizations and in this aspect, there is a need to enhance the good relations and co-operation between the bodies. Therefore, both the marketing organizations and other public and private tourism bodies must work together to enhance the destination markets. Challenges sometimes arise as the different bodies pass their responsibilities onto the destination marketing organizations and the organizations find it difficult to handle the markets on their own.

These challenges have become a barrier towards an effective destination marketing process and it is necessary that proper measures are taken to ensure an effective market and in turn promote tourism.

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Enhancing an effective destination

According to Gartrell (1994), one factor that enables an effective destination for tourists is the local people of that particular country. It is important that the local people are hospitable so that when the tourists are interacting with them they are able to feel appreciated. The local people determine the kind of environment that the tourists are likely to find and the government should therefore educate its local people on the proper way to interact with the tourists so as to promote the country’s destination markets. It is important that the local people know the proper way to approach the tourists and the selected guides must be qualified to handle tourists and they must be ready to give their assistance most efficiently.

The destination marketing organizations should ensure that it gives truthful information of all that is required by the tourists while marketing the various destinations. Marketing in most cases involves that exaggeration is used in order to promote more sales. However, while carrying out destination marketing, the information given by the destination marketing organizations must be correct and must be directed towards creating interest in the tourists. The tourists should not be directed by false information because once they find out the actual facts they lose trust with the country and the country may end up losing the markets (Fyall 2005).

Page (2006) argues that both the government and the private sectors must work together to promote the destination markets of a country. In several cases, there arise conflicts between the government and other non-governmental tourism bodies regarding the body that will be responsible for financing and sustaining the destination marketing organizations and this may cause an ineffective and weak body that may fail to give the desired results. Therefore, the government must ensure it gives financial support to the other tourist bodies and these bodies must also ensure that they co-operate with the government to promote the country and attract more tourists. This way, the destination markets will be improved and the country will gain more from the tourist visits.

According to Murphy (2004), a country needs also to ensure that it clearly identifies those factors that attract tourists or are likely to attract them to their country. In this regard, it needs to work towards enhancing an effective market by promoting the important factors that will attract tourists. Marketing should also emphasize these factors so that a country can bring out its strong areas. For example, a country that has attractive natural environments like oceans and national parks should ensure that it uses these as a mode of marketing the destinations. Tourists will therefore desire to visit the country because of the sites and not for the weak sides of the country. Hence, emphasizing the key factors will attract more tourists and at the same time will save on the destination marketing expenses.

It is also important that a country works towards improving the quality of its destinations. Taking care of the environment, for instance, will ensure that tourist attraction is a long-term goal for a country. The quality of services in the tourism industry tends to diminish with time, just like any other kind of service and a country should therefore ensure that it maintains and continuously makes better the services in the tourism sector. This may be made by creating awareness to the local people of the importance of enhancing and sustaining the environment, culture, the country’s integrity, and other related factors. The government and other tourist bodies should also work towards improving the quality of services that they offer to the tourists. Quality services should be a long term goal and the aspects used must be constantly looked into to ensure that they are the best at all the time (Gartrell 1994).

Creating Ethical Limits for Destination Markets

Gartrell (1994) argues that destination markets play an important role in promoting the tourism sector of a country. It determines the extent to which tourists visit a country and their contribution to both the economical and social aspects of the country. There must however be a wise decision made by the tourist bodies towards the limit that must be put in force by the destination markets organizations. It is important that when a country is inviting tourists, it must also consider the implications that will come with it. The tourist bodies need to ensure that the extent to which tourists are coming into the country does not negatively affect the local society or the economic and environmental aspects of the country and it is therefore important that limits be established to create a balance between the benefits and the limitations of creating destination markets.

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While promoting tourism, the interests of the local community should be prioritized. This means that tourism should not have a negative effect on the local people’s way of living. Creating a good relationship between the local community and the tourists is important while promoting destination markets and tourist destinations should be enhanced in order to promote the tourism sector and in turn earn the country revenue. However, the tourist bodies must ensure that they do not affect the happiness or peaceful coexistence of the local people at the expense of promoting tourism. Tourists should benefit the country but should not be a basis of conflict with the local inhabitants and therefore, the interests of the destination markets must co-relate with the interests of the local people in order to ensure sustainability in tourism (Lew 2004).

According to Fyall (2005), while enhancing destination markets, it is also important that the responsibilities of the tourists are clearly identified. Tourist destination organizations ought to respect the tourists but the tourists too should respect the country’s norms. In this respect, the tourism bodies should clearly define the required responsibilities expected of the tourists while in the country. The destination markets should not be a basis for the tourists not to make proper use of the country’s ethics and standards. It should instead be a way of enhancing ethical standards in the tourism sector and respect by the tourists must be emphasized while promoting the destinations.

The destination marketing organizations should also ensure that they create favorable terms for both the tourists and the country. For instance, the prices set for the services must not be too low that the country hardly benefits from tourism, and neither must they be too high that they discourage the tourists from visiting the country. The markets need to take into consideration the prevailing conditions that are in existence before inviting tourists into the country. Where a country is, for example experiencing political instabilities, the markets need to limit their activities in order to enhance the sovereignty of the country and enhance the good relations with its clients in other countries (Gartrell 1994).

Summary

It is clear that tourism has become a significant aspect of the development of a country and it is, therefore, necessary that destination marketing be implemented to promote the industry. It is also important that while competition for these markets is being created, the organizations should look at the prevailing conditions in the country so that they may be able to offer their best.

The study has shown that a good relationship between the local community and the tourists is very important because it strengthens the relations and creates a long-term investment portfolio in the tourism sector (Page 2006). The community must be well educated on the benefits of tourism in the country so that the objective of the destination markets is enhanced.

In conclusion, therefore, destination marketing should be enhanced in the different countries for there to be an effective tourism strategy. The markets should focus on the strengths of the country and should try to give the tourists the best so that their services may benefit the country at large.

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Bibliography

Beeton, S, 2005. Film-induced Tourism: Channel View Publications.

Buhalis, D and Costa, C. 2006. Tourism Management Dynamics: Trends, Management and Tools: Butterworth-Heinemann; Australia.

Buhalis, D and Costa, C, 2006. Tourism Business Frontiers: Consumers, Products and Industry: Butterworth-Heinemann; Australia.

Fyall, A and Garrod, B, 2005. Tourism Marketing: A Collaborative Approach: Channel View Publications.

Gartrell, R, 1994. Destination Marketing for Convention and Visitor Bureaus: Kendall/Hunt Publication Co.

King, M, 1997. Creating Island Resorts: Routledge, Australia.

Knapp, D, 2008. The Brand Promise: How Costco, Ketel One, Make-a-wish, Tourism Vancouver, and Other Leading Brands Make and Keep the Promise that Guarantees Success: McGraw-Hill Professional.

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Murphy, E, 2004. Strategic Management for Tourism Communities: Bridging the Gaps: Channel View Publications, Vancouver.

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Page, S and Joanne, C, 2006. Tourism: A Modern Synthesis: Cengage Learning EMEA; Scotland.

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Selby, M, 2004. Understanding Urban Tourism: Image, Culture and Experience: I.B.Tauris.

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