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travel Tourism and more

October 2016 – Travel is no doubt a wonderful experience.  It broadens our horizons, permits us to understand new societies, allows us to see things about which we have only dreamt, and gives us the opportunity to see ourselves in entirely new ways and often as others see us.

Unfortunately, when some people travel they may also do things that are both foolish and harmful.  This month’s Tourism Tidbits addresses some of the things that when traveling we want to avoid.  For those in the travel industry, it is essential to understand these sociological phenomena so that they can be taken into account and planned for.  These principles are important because these same sociological phenomena often occur to both business and leisure travelers, to men and to women, to the teenager and to the senior citizen.  When these problems occur, tourists and visitors rarely blame themselves, but rather tend to blame the locale resulting in negative word-of-mouth advertising.

A key point for all tourism professionals is the realization that travelers have choices.  In the case of the leisure market this assumption almost always holds true. In the business word, business travelers are , finding ways to replace some business meetings by other forms of virtual communications.

Tourism industries that believe that they are essential can easily suffer calamities if they are not careful with their customer service and their creation of safe and secure locations.  In the case of leisure travelers, often these travelers assume that the place to which they are traveling is safe and as such often lower their level of caution.

The following principles often reflect some of the common mistakes that we make when it comes to travel and to those who are our customers. Tourism Tidbits offers for your consideration an outline of some of the common mistakes that we all make whenever we travel and phenomena about which we want to be mindful. Part of the challenge of being a tourism professional is advising visitors about security and safety while at the same time not scaring them.  This balanced approach is one of the reasons that tourism (TOPPs) units are so essential. These travel security professionals, be they public or private security officers, are an essential part of tourism’s front line.

– Travel is stressful. No matter what we in the tourism industry want to believe, travel is stressful and stress places us in danger.  Prepare your guests for the stress of travel by having reminding them to have alternative plans, to take needed telephone numbers, and making sure that they carry food and water in case of delays.  Criminals know that when we are under stress we tend not to think, leave things (such a wallets and passports) exposed and tend to speak louder.   Remember when the traveler is under stress; the criminal is not. That means, take the time to remind customers to put their wallets away, not to expose credit cards, and when using public phones or ATM machines to block the access so that someone cannot photograph the person’s code.

– When we travel we often seem to leave our common sense behind.  Part of the reason for this phenomenon may be that we assume that where we are going is safe, or that nothing will happen to us when we are traveling.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Crime exists everywhere and police departments around the world are understaffed and over-stretched. To add to this, recent historical trends have shown that terrorism is a growing problem. For example, the British Journal, The Economist stated that: “And terrorism is spreading. 67 countries saw at least one death last year (2014) compared with 59 the year before. The number of plots by jihadist groups against Western countries has leaped, in particular since September 2014 when an IS spokesman called for its followers to attack those Western countries involved in military efforts in Syria and Iraq. Most plots have failed, though a growing number have been successful. But the terrorists only need to carry out one big plot to succeed.” One new source reported that in 2001 there were some one thousand terrorism attacks around the world. By the year 2015 that number had climbed to 30,000.  It is important to realize that some sources count failed attacks as attacks, and there is no one accepted definition of what is or is not a terrorism attack. Good common sense dictates that it is important to take a two-tier attitude regarding visitors and staff.  Remind them to relax and smile but at the same time be aware and vigilant.

– It is a mistake to assume that people in other places are all good.  It is far better to assume that crime occurs in all parts of the world and take the same precautions that you would take at home.  In the world of travel, there are not only the generalized crimes that can occur anywhere, but also specific crimes that are especially prevalent in travel and tourism.  As such, be careful of such crimes as conmen and crimes of distraction artists (i.e., pickpockets, bag snatchers, credit card thefts). Remember that not everyone who works in the tourism industry is honest, and that violent crime can happen to anyone.

-Remember that when you are in a different place, you are in a different place!  That means that travelers can often be taken by surprise.  Advise travelers that they do not want to take a cab that has not been approved by the authorities, how much of a tip to leave at a restaurant, or even how to determine the value of foreign monies.  In a like manner, remind visitors not to walk down a dark street alone, take enough money with them that in case of a robbery the thieves will not become so angry that they do harm.  The bottom line is always remembered that even the strongest man can be taken down, especially if he is taken by surprise.

– Remember that in most cases, most perpetrators of tourism crime are not caught. That means that prevention is the best protection. Remind visitors to try whenever possible to blend into the local environment. Dress as others dress in that local, do not carry maps and cameras in such a manner as to make you noticeable, and have a sense of where you are going and how much it should cost to get there.

-Try to be respectful of nature.  All too many visitors believe that they are on a movie set rather than in the wild.  Blizzards, wild animals, hurricanes, and tornadoes all kill.  A perfect example of this principle of lack of respect for nature coupled with a lack of common sense is the number of drowning off of Hawaii’s (Ohau) north coast.  Despite the lifeguards and warning signs, there are all too many visitors to Hawaii who are convinced that the Pacific Ocean is a giant swimming pool.

Click here to find other Tourism Tidbits by Dr. Peter Tarlow.

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Tourism, Transportation And Security Part 2

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Tourism, Transportation And Security: Tourism and more

July 2016 – As noted in the June edition of Tourism Tidbits, there is a symbiotic relationship between tourism and transportation. Tourism, as we know it, cannot survive without a good and safe transportation system. Although the inverse is not absolutely true, much of the transportation industry depends on tourism.

Although, some forms of transportation would appear to be independent of tourism, for example the trucking industry, tourism is such a major economic factor that without it even the trucking industry would have less goods to deliver and thus suffer. Thus, although there is not a perfect symbiotic relationship between the two, tourism and transportation industries are closely connected and to a great extent mutually dependent.

Because most of tourism is based on non-essential spending (business travel has been the one major exception to this rule and with the continual development of the internet and simultaneous “tele-castings”, this too may change), tourism is highly dependent on safe and secure, efficient and affordable transportation. In this moth’s edition and the second part of this series, Tourism Tidbits explores some of the challenges facing these combined industries and also turns to some of the transportation methods not mentioned in Part I (see last month’s Tourism Tidbits) of this two part series. Once again, the material found below is meant only to create dialogue and should not be considered in any way a formal recommendation.

Tourism transportation centers and methods need a great deal of upgrading in many parts of the world

Too many sea and airport terminals are outmoded. Bus and rail terminals are known in many places around the world as, at best, dirty and expensive and often are seen as dangerous or as unintended homeless shelters. Rest rooms tend to be dirty, and food services when available overcharge and under-deliver. Rarely do terminals reflect the culture of the locale, although some airports, such as the airports in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada provide some local flavor upon deplaning. For the most part, transportation terminals are boring, are inefficient in handling passengers, dirty and not pleasant.

Signage and roadways need major over-halls

Some areas of the world have done an excellent job in upgrading highways and services provided along these highways. Other parts of the world, make land travel a dangerous and unpleasant adventure. Too great a distance often separates traveler services from each other, signage is often either non-existent or poor, and for those who do not speak the local language, an exercise in stress management. Furthermore in too many locations highway landscaping seems to be of a cookie cutter variety, that is one road looks like another.

Visas and visa wavers

Perhaps no topic is more highly contested than the use of visas. Visas exist for three reasons, (a) as a tax on visitors entering a specific nation, (2) to protect the nation from unwanted visitors, and (3) to make a political statement. Prior to the growth of international terrorism the use of visas was on the wane with nation after nation adopting visa waver programs. That trend has now been reversed and this means that travelers going from one nation to another may need to jump through additional hoops before they can set foot on an airplane or ship.

Issue concerning land transportation

There are three major forms of land transportation that most tourists/visitors use. These are car, motor coach (bus) and train transportation. Each has it own issues and challenges.

Cars and rental cars

Cars (privately owned or rented) tend to be used by people who are independent travelers. Their great advantages are flexibility and changeability. It may be for this reason that car travel is tourism’s number one mode of transportation with estimates as high as 77% of the travel market. Currently gas prices are low and these low prices means that travelers have the cost factor as an advantage, Rental cars also benefit from low gas prices, but many rental car locations are located in airports that add numerous additional fees. These add-on fees are not only infuriating to many visitors, but can drive the cost of the rental car up considerably. Another issue is that drivers must not only deal with toll roads but that many of these toll roads are not manned and the driver, being a tourist may not have the proper toll sticker. Once again, tourism suffers as the replacement of customer service with machines means that there are less people to ask and the experience is much more homogenized. It should be noted that the independent car traveler pays the same gas taxes and tolls as does the local driver.

Bus and Coaches

Although most motor coaches are technically “buses” there is a great difference between them. Buses tend to be either used in local destinations or between destinations. In some parts of the world, buses come well equipped with wifi, toilets and often serve refreshments. In other parts of the world they are a traveler’s challenge. Buses, as opposed to motor coaches, tend to provide basic transportation. Motor coaches may have an affinity group, tend to be part of a specific tour and develop their routs to meet the needs of their clients. Buses are dependent on terminals. Motor coaches usually pick visitors up at a pre-set location, such as a hotel and take them to pre-set destinations. Both industries are benefiting currently from low gas prices but are heavily taxed. A major issue revolving around motor coaches is their arrival brings some 3-40 passengers to a location for specific times and these vehicles need convenient places to park especially as often older travelers have a tendency to gravitate to this form of transportation.

Rail transportation

Railroads in many countries are primarily freight movers, but in other lands such as Japan and Europe rail traffic is a popular form of tourist travel. Trains have several advantages over airplanes. Among these advantages are: they provide more space for luggage, they usually go to the center of a city and until recently they have been perceived to be safer than planes. European nations especially have invested great sums of money in high-speed rail lines. Travel by rail is often faster than by plane when one considers the total trip, home portal to final destination and allow for passengers to see the scenery. In other parts of the world, train stations are often substandard and customer service is an almost unknown concept.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Tourism, Transportation and Security Part 1

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Tourism, Transportation and Security: Tourism and more June 2016 – The connection between tourism and transportation is so close that often people use “travel” as a synonym for tourism. In fact, in many languages, tourism is another way to express travel. Even in English it is hard to miss the connection between the words “tour” and “tourism”. Transportation methods allow us to travel. Unfortunately, in an age in which elegance has given way to a form of pedestrian practicality, and terrorism is psychologically connected to transportation systems, the tourism industry cannot avoid transportation issues. With the exception of hiking, transportation companies are linked to tourism in four major areas. These are aviation security, maritime security including cruise security, railroad security, and road-/highway security including buses, private cars and vans. Furthermore, there are those in the green movement who seek to limit travel due to climate change. No one know the full impact of limiting travel, especially air travel, on tourism, but we may guess that both long-haul destinations and international travel will be impacted if there are less travel opportunities. Below Tourism Tidbits presents and overview of these four areas and how they impact tourism along with suggestions for improvements.

Aviation

Flying has gone from an integral and pleasurable part of the tourism experience to something that must be suffered through. In today’s world flying has not only lost its elegance. Although in relation to cost of living and current wages, flying is not expensive, it is perceived to be expensive. All too often smiles have been replaced with frowns, and airplane seats have become exercises in endurance. We cannot blame all of aviation’s problems on the airlines. They too are captives to government regulations, and often must implement policies, which they would prefer not to enforce. Despite this fact, the public has a tendency, as is true in all forms of tourism, to bundle its frustrations and find the airline industry guilty. This frustration is especially high due to the à la carte manner in which airlines now charge and to the low cost of fuel. The result has been a difference between a perceived price and a true price. To add to the frustration airline passengers must undergo a number of other difficulties. Among these are:

  • Poorly designed terminals that result in long lines
  • Great distances between gates or difficulties from transiting from one terminal to another
  • High costs of basic services at terminals coupled with poor quality
  • The high cost of parking
  • Slow baggage delivery and/or lost baggage
  • A great deal of interconnected bureaucratic layers that tend to undercut each other rather than aid each other.

On the other side of the ledger there have been several improvements. Among these are:

  • Many terminals now offer free internet service
  • Children’s play areas
  • Higher quality shops and restaurants
  • A greater number of executive clubs or work areas

In the background is the continual trauma of terrorist attacks against the airline industry. Although air travel is the safest form of transportation, the media’s emphasis on the air travel industry coupled with the some people’s fear of flying produces higher levels of anxiety than it does in other forms of transportation. It cannot be stated too strongly that should the tourism industry not deal with air travel’s real and perceived problems, it puts itself a great risk.

Air transportation security has so far been reactive rather than proactive

Until recently most security measures have been adapted to stop a repeat of an attack. Thus, one person had a shoe bomb, and millions had to remove their shoes. On the other hand all too little has been done to check those who are checking passengers and luggage nor is it clear how those who are working on the airplane prior to departure or upon landing are investigated and cleared.

The airline industry also must now have to deal with the issue of “climate change”

Pro-ecology tourism groups are asking people to fly less. Such a policy would not only destroy numerous travel destinations, for example, the Caribbean and Hawaii are to a great extent air travel dependent, but also make business travel either a great deal more expensive or almost impossible.

Issues Of Maritime Security

Maritime tourism or aquatic tourism covers a broad range of topics. The term includes everything from cruises to boating, from beach vacations to white water rafting. Each of these aspects has its own challenges and issues. In reality we can separate maritime travel and tourism from aquatic tourism. Aquatic tourism is anything that deals with travel or recreation and water. Maritime tourism is a subset and deals with travel versus pure recreation and by means of a commercial carrier, be that a ferry or a cruise ship.

Maritime tourism, especially in the cruise industry, has had a number of challenges

These include, shipboard fires, issues of piracy, issues of terrorism, issues of assault of all kinds from robbery to sexual assault, people falling or being pushed overboard and health issues such as the Nordau virus. To add to this extensive list, cruise companies must often deal with off-ship problems, such as crimes against their passengers while on shore, boarding issues and issues of passport control.

Aquatic tourism involves a number of other safety and security issues

These include issues of boat safety, water purity, swimming pool usage and vigilance, safety of equipment. When dealing with the ocean there are numerous problems of visitors not understanding that the ocean is both a place of enjoyment and a place to be respected and of caution. An example of how dangerous the oceans can be was the terrible tsunami that occurred in the Indian Ocean basis in 2004. In reality no one knows for sure how many people were swept out to sea and drowned but estimates are that well over 100,000 died that day in just a few minutes.

Both aquatic and maritime safety need to take into account that many people do not understand the ocean nor do they fully appreciate its force and might

What is true of the ocean is also true of rivers, lakes and even beaches. Tourism centers that use water transportation must make sure that signage is clear, that rules are not only understood but enforced, and that employees are well trained and highly professional.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Tourism and Immigration: Tourism and more

May 2016 – Around the world, immigration and refugees are a hot topic. Europe is locked in a debate as to how to handle the millions of people who seek to migrate there. The US also has a similar debate running through its Presidential election process.  This article does not address the issue of immigration and refugees but it does look at how the movements of people impact the tourism industry.

Tourism is much more than merely about the movement of people from one place to another.  It is also the exchange of cultures and the appreciation of the “other”.  Tourism movements are not only about people from one place visiting another place, but often the tourist industry “imports” guest workers.  These “people from other lands” provide needed services and often also give a sense of the exotic or internationalization to their host centers of employment.  For example, the cruise industry has long sought multi-national and multi-lingual staffs.  These international employees benefit from a chance to travel the world and provide a special flare and “joie de vivre” to the cruise experience.  In other cases, people from one land have provided needed services in another nation and at the same time benefited from wages that may be higher than in their own countries plus the experience of having lived in a foreign land.

Unfortunately, due to issues of international crime and terrorism, our ability to travel freely or experience foreign employment opportunities is now being reviewed and in some places is being curtailed.  Tourism Tidbits offers ideas on how we can maintain and open and hospitable industry while at the same time maintaining safety and security standards.  Please note that every location has specific needs. The information given below is meant only for the purpose of creative dialogue and does not give place specific recommendations. Please consult with local authorities before taking any specific action.

  • Develop a knowledgeable tourism police. The key word here is knowledgeable.  Too few tourism locations have a special tourism police and many of those who do, do not have police who are trained as specialists in both the tourism side and the security side of the equation.  Tourism police need to know more than merely how to stop pick-pocketing or deal with crimes of distraction. They need to be experts in everything from cyber security to hotel security, from issues of immigration to issues of legal and illegal employment.  Tourism police must also know how to work with other forms of security professionals, especially those who work in private security. These security specialists also need to know marketing.  A decision may make security sense but if that decision destroys businesses, then in the end it will prove to be counter productive.  For example, it is essential to know when police should be undercover and when they should be in standard or special uniforms.   Tourists tend to spend more money where there is a visible police presence, thus too few police in uniform can be a costly mistake.
  • Develop a tourism immigration committee. This committee should be composed of specialists from law enforcement, from immigration and customs authorities, from the hotel industry and tourism industry, and from the local legislature or government. Make sure that laws match both security and economic needs.
  • Learn from others. Go to tourism security conferences, write to colleagues and learn what did and did not work in the world of tourism security.  Then adapt the other locale’s policies to your local needs.  Some policies may not be geographically or culturally specific while other may address problems in one locale and not be valid for another locale.  A mistake in one location may not be a mistake in another location.
  • Make immigration procedures both through but sweet.   Emigration and customs are the first line of defense of any nation.  It is essential that those working there are carefully selected, are given the prestige that they are due, and are the right personality types.  People who tend to be introverted are less suited for this job than are extroverted people. Chatting and smiling are an essential part of security reconnaissance. Questions should be direct and to the point and accompanied by biometric and psychological profiles.  These officials need to remember that they are both the protectors and greeters of tourism. These officials should be both careful and cautious, courteous and thorough.
  • Review all entry forms. All too often entry forms either ask questions that make no sense or seem to have been placed there as a form of tourism harassment.  Too many forms are hard to see, and almost impossible fill out especially while on a plane.  The result is that people provide inaccurate information.   It is better to get less information that is accurate than a great deal of inaccurate information.  Do not duplicate questions and if the information is not necessary, then eliminate it.
  • Develop protocols for a foreign guest program.  There are two parts to foreign or guest worker programs. The first part is who should be accepted into such a program and the second part is how to we work with these foreign guests once they arrive.

Step one:

  • Do not depend on your government to identify problem people. This means that it is the tourism industry’s responsibility to check everything from social media to reputation. A major task of human resources now needs to be finding the right people who are willing to uphold the guest nation’s values and also tourism values.
  • Ask potential employees direct rather than hypothetical questions. The more direct the question the better the chance to judge the person not only by his/her answers but also by the employee’s body language.
  • Do not prejudge people.  There are good and bad people in every nation, group, religion and gender. A woman is as capable as a man in being violent.  Judge each person on his or her own merits.
  • Watch for problems once the person is hired.  If something does not feel right examine and question. Use the same criteria that you would in evaluating any other form of work place violence and do not allow politically correct speech or actions color the way that you confront a potential threat.

Step Two:

  • Make sure that the person is well integrated into the host society and help him fight off loneliness.   It is not easy to be a stranger in a strange land.  Giving a paycheck is not enough. Make sure that the person has the opportunities to make friends and to experience the joys of his/her culture.
  • Create a mentor or buddy program. These programs not only add value to the guest workers experience but stop issues of alienation that may result in tragedies.  The better the person is integrated into a host society the lesser the chance that the guest will consider harming his/her host culture.
  • Understand cultures. Often what may seem to be violent in one culture may not be in another culture. Although the foreign guest is obliged to live in accordance with the host society’s rules, cultural norms and law, a good understanding of our guest’s culture may avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Some of the Principal Issues Facing the Travel Industry – Part 2

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Principal Issues Facing: Tourism and more

March 2016 – Last month we examined some of the challenges facing the tourism industry in 2016.  This month we examine some of the other challenges with which tourism leaders may have to contend in 2016.  It should be noted that although the material in both the February and March editions is treated as separate challenges, there is often an interaction between them and these challenges are not stand alones but rather part of a total whole.

  • Be prepared for economic instability. We are now seeing the stock market on a roller coaster and coupled with low gas prices, there is a sense of ennui and foreboding.  Last year’s feel good combination has now changed to one of wait-and-see in the United States, Latin America and Europe.  Experts indicate that there are multiple clouds on the horizon.  These include an unstable European economy, recession in countries such as Brazil and low employment rates, and a slowing down of the Chinese economy.  It is essential to remember that although unemployment is low in the US, this figure does not necessarily reflect a strong economy, but rather that millions of people have ceased looking for work. In this world of false recoveries, low unemployment does not translate into the willingness on the part of the public to travel more.
  • View the world carefully. The political world will continue to be unstable and when instability hits people are less likely to spend money on luxury items such as travel.  Political instability is now a major concern in Africa and Latin America, with the Middle East, Europe, and North America open to terrorism attacks and Latin America still suffering from high levels of crime and drug trafficking.  Furthermore, no one knows how Europe’s refugee crisis will play out and what the consequences of increased crime will be on European tourism. Brazil, along with much of Latin America, is suffering from both issues of crime and issues of health and sanitation.
  • Be aware of the lack of trained personnel. Because many tourism areas have grown rapidly there are too many location where there is a dearth of skilled labor.  Tourism needs people who are both inspired and well trained.  Yet, too few people in the tourism industry speak multiple languages, are proficient in high tech computer skills or have a good knowledge of statistics and how to utilize them.  This lack of education and training creates not only numerous financial losses but also creates lost opportunities and the inability to adapt to new challenges.
  • Low Salaries, recruitment and retention. Many on line and front line workers receive low salaries, have low levels of job loyalty, and change jobs with high level of rapidity.  This high turnover level makes training difficult and often each time a person leaves, the information is lost.  T o make matters even more challenging these are often the person with whom visitors come in contact.  The formula tends to guarantee low job satisfaction and low levels of customer satisfaction. This situation has resulted in the lack of availability of skilled manpower by the travel and tourism industry, one of the largest if not the largest employment generators in the world. If tourism is to be a sustainable product then it needs to turn part-time jobs into careers without pricing itself out of the market. If the travel and tourism industry hopes to continue to grow it will need trained personnel, and a willing and enthusiastic workforce at every level from the  managerial, to  skilled workers to the semi-skilled worker.
  • Nonsensical regulations and over regulations. No one is arguing that tourism should be an unregulated industry, but often governments’ desires to regulate trumps common sense. All too often decisions are made so as to avoid a law suite or negative media coverage.  Too many regulations are reactive to problems that are minimal while refusing to be proactive regarding growing problems. Often the desire to over-regulate puts tourism businesses in jeopardy and fail to help the consumer.
  • The lack of adequate and truthful marketing. Too many locations tend to either exaggerate or simply fabricate. The lack of truth in marketing means that the public not only loses confidence in the industry but investors fear being burnt.  Marketing has to be both innovative and true.  Tourism is a highly competitive industry and requires good and innovative marketing that captures a place’s essence while making people aware of the locale’s tourism offerings.
  • The lack of amenities or the over charging for the use of amenities. In too many locations around the world there is a lack of simple amenities.  From clean and potable water at hotels to well maintained public rest rooms. In all too many locations finding simple public services is a constant challenge. Signage is often unintelligible to the foreign tourist, parking turns an outing into a nightmare, and as hard as it seems to believe there are all too many “good” quality hotels that charge for internet service.   In many locations the hotel’s in-room phone service is outrageously expensive even for local calls.  The lack of amenities or the over charging for their usage destroys the sense of hospitality and turns guests into mere customers.
  • The need to develop or update tourism infrastructure. Around the world tourism suffers from poor infrastructure. These infrastructure challenges range from substandard docks and ports of entry to modes of transport to urban infrastructure such as access roads, electricity, water supply, sewerage and telecommunication. As airplanes begin to carry more people airports will face not only the problems of handling large numbers of arriving passengers but also will need to find ways to unload luggage faster, and transit people through immigration and customs lines. The lack of infrastructure will also impact issues of security as governments attempt to ferret out potential terrorists while creating a warm and welcoming arrival experience.
  • The airline industry will continue to be the part of tourism that visitors love to hate. Air travel has gone from elegant to pedestrian. Today passengers are crowded onto planes as of they were cattle and treated as if they were criminals rather than honored guests. Airfares are so complicated that passengers need a college course to understand them and the once popular airline loyalty programs continue to degenerate. Service is often so bad that when flight attendants smile, passengers actually thank them.  Unfortunately the “getting there” has become part of the “being there”, and unless the tourism industry can work with the airline industry to change attitudes, be less mercenary and more flexible the entire industry may suffer.  When poor air service is combined with infrastructure problems the combination may in the long run be deadly and “staycations” may over take vacations.
  • Nothing works if visitors are afraid and not secure. The spread of terrorist groups throughout the world is a major threat to tourism.  Tourism must learn to create not merely security and safety but ‘surety”: the interaction between the two. That means that locations without TOPPs (tourism policing) programs will suffer and eventually decline.  Private security and public security will need to learn to interact and work well not only with each other but with the media and marketers.   The old and outdates adage that security scares visitors is more and more being replaced with the adage that the lack of security provokes fear among visitors.  Cyber crime will continue to be another major challenge the travel industry faces.  Tourism cannot merely hobble from pandemics and health crisis to the next.  Also, unless the travel and tourism industry can protect visitor privacy and lower the incidents of fraud, it will face an ever greater and daunting challenge during 2016.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Some of the Principal Issues Facing the Travel Industry – Part 1

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Principal Issues Facing: Tourism and more

February 2016 – Scholars of tourism know that the travel and tourism industry are far from static.  New challenges seem to arise as quickly as mushrooms sprout up after a warm rain.  Despite the constant changes, however, there have been a number of issues that have become constant problems for the industry and with which it has had to learn to live.  Here are some of these issues and a few suggestions on how to begin to handle them.  The recent stock market ups and downs are a real indication of the turbulence that may impact tourism in 2016 and present new challenges to tourism professionals around the world.

  • High Taxation on the Tourism Industry. There is a mistaken belief that visitors and tourists do not pay taxes.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead tourists are some of the highest taxed and under represented people in the world.  We only have to examine am airline ticket, rent a car, or stay at a hotel to realize how much we spend on travel.  These taxes not only add a great deal to the cost of travel, but they also have become nuisances.  For example, leaving too many places requires and exit payment and in all too many other locations visas is nothing more than an additional way to victimize tourists.  Because tourists are generally not citizens of the places that they are visiting, they have no political voice.  However, the local members of the tourism industry can act as their voice.  Tourism, just as any other product has an economic saturation limit and if taxes become overly burdensome local tourism business will see a diminution in their profits.
  • Increase of mass tourism resulting in straining the tourism infrastructure. Many places around the world have seen large numbers of tourist arrivals but are simply not prepared to handle the influx.  Tourism is much more than merely selling or marketing.  There has to be a product and the product must be composed not only of the attraction and or activity but also the personnel who deliver the product.  This means that if the number of visitors is greater than the capacity of a location to absorb these visitors, the locale will suffer numerous problems.  Often too many visitors to a place that is ill prepared for non-sustainable numbers creates a sense of tourism euphoria in the short run, but introduces long term tourism problems that may become deadly to the sustained health of a tourism industry.  An easy check on if a particular tourism product’s infrastructure is over extended is to determine the percentage of visitors wish to return.  If few visitors desire to return, then this may be an indication that the price-tourism structure continuum is reaching unsustainable limits.
  • Physical plants that are no longer adept for modern tourism. Perhaps the biggest problem exists in the realm of airports.  Many airports are simply not equipped to handle a large number of passengers arriving at the same time.  This lack of infrastructure combined with often poorly trained personnel (or personnel who simply do not care) creates long lines and unpleasant memories.  Tourism officials need to remember that first and last impressions are key components in their marketing efforts.
  • Local Infrastructure problems. Too many tourism destinations are not prepared for the visitors. They lack good sanitation facilities and water treatment plants. Likewise both roads and sidewalks are not well maintained creating hazards not only for the local population but also for the visitor population.  It is essential that local governments take into consideration that a good tourism environment also impacts the local culture and environment.  Heavy taxes with poor road and street quality are sure not only to upset citizens but are a warning sign that tourism may be headed toward future problems.
  • Customer service is the key to a healthy tourism industry. The least expensive and most important part of the tourism experience is the customer –visitor interaction.  Smiles and a friendly handshake or nod of the head cost nothing and can change a negative impression into a negative one. Unfortunately tourism personnel often forget that the visitor is their employer and that when visitations cease so do their jobs.  Too many people who work in tourism are civil servants who cannot be fired.. Job protection needs to be a reward and not a right.  When there are no consequences for bad behavior or rudeness on the part of tourism personnel not only is the product’s reputation diminished but so too the quality of the tourism offering.  Providing quality customer service is an ongoing challenge for many parts of the tourism industry.  Although it is the lease expense challenge to face, it has proven to be one of the hardest challenges to meet and overcome.

Below here are some suggestions to help face these problems:

  • Develop a tourism vision. You cannot begin to create an infrastructure if you do not know what form of tourism your locale desires. Not every form of tourism is correct for every locale, and no locale can be all things to all people.  Think through what forms of tourism best meet your community’s needs and how tourism will add to the quality of life for your community, Once you have the vision of what type of tourism you desire, you can then begin to analyze if the vision is realistic and obtainable and finally what obstacles stand in the way of creating this vision.
  • Buddle taxes. Do everything possible to ease the taxation burden and to make payments as easy as possible.  For example, include airport, bus station or seaport entrance and exit fees in the cost of a ticket.  Forcing visitors to go from one line to the next in order to depart wins the local tourism industry few friends and creates a negative final image of the locale.
  • Simplify currency exchange laws and procedures. Tourism can produce a great deal of hard currency for any particular location. However, when exchange centers such as banks and hotels overcharge for the purchase of local currency, there is a tendency to go to the black market, not to respect local laws, or put oneself in danger.  Post rates of exchange and where currency can be exchanged legally and at what times.  Post prices whenever possible in both the local currency and in an international currency such as dollars or euros, and Chinese yuan.
  • Seek out of the box solutions. The bottom line is that no matter what the problem may be do not give up. Be creative, smile and remember that tourism is all about turning challenges into new and exciting opportunities

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Tourism Marketing Agent: Tourism and more

April 2016 – There can be little doubt that food is a major part of the tourism experience.  If tourism is about seeing new sights and having new and unique experiences then the culinary world is a major part of the tourism experience.  Because eating is an essential part of living, food or culinary tourism has a broad base of appeal.  In fact, often when visitors return home, one of the first questions that people ask is ‘how is the food?”  The interaction between tourism and food is often called culinary tourism.  In reality this is a broad term that often means different things to different people.  Often scholars define culinary tourism along the lines of: visitors having the opportunity of partaking in unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.  Culinary tourism tries to provide authentic local cuisines that represent both the tastes and smells of a nation as a part of that locale’s cultural offerings and heritage.  This definition, however, may speak more to a locale’s “haute cuisine” than to the eating experience of the average local resident.

The World Food Tourism Association supports this assertion noting that “only 8.1% of all foodies self-identify with the “gourmet” label.” Thus the association argues that most people enjoy good food and drink but there is no necessary relationship between the enjoyment of a culinary experiences and the cost of that experience.

Often the most interesting culinary experiences come from a variety of social and economic classes. Furthermore, every community has a culinary food potential, although often visitors or tourists do not get to experience it and at times the local population under appreciates it. To help you create a local culinary tourism experience that will add pride to your own community and at the same time, provide unique travel experiences, Tourism Tidbits offers the following ideas, cautions, and experiences.

  • Culinary tourism tends to work best when it is combined with other aspects of tourism.  Although we all love to eat, when visiting a location we usually want to do more than eat. Pair your tourism culinary offering with other compatible and complementary offerings. A good example of food and tourism activities is the ski business.  That business does a good job of encouraging people to ski during the day, use up calories and then not feel guilty about their caloric consumption during the après-ski period.
  • Know your own food traditions.  All too often locals either do not realize that a particular food expresses the unique flavor of a locale and all too often are ignorant of the food’s history. Combine the eating experience with the cultural or historical experience.  Create food centers that allow people to experience not only the local tastes but also the local atmosphere.  Create ways that people cannot only sample the local cuisine but either take samples home or purchase the receipts.
  • Make sure that people know what they are getting.  Although food consumption is big business we live in a world of multiple eating restrictions, be these restrictions due to religious, ethnic, medical, or health reasons.  A location can lose all the good will obtained through culinary tourism simply through misinformation or through a poorly trained staff.  Food is both an issue of pleasure and comfort, but also highly emotionally charged. Poor food training or lack of sensitivity toward food avoidance needs can result not only in an unhappy customer, but in worse case scenario, a law suite.
  • There are multiple subsets to culinary tourism. Culinary tourism has multiple sub-categories.  For example there are places that emphasize their beer tourism such as Germany, wine tourism such as California, France, Italy or Portugal, chocolate tourism such as Switzerland.  Each of these culinary tourisms is subset of the larger world of culinary tourism. All of these locations have a number of things in common. These include: (1) they base their tourism on numerous locations where visitors can both sample and compare. Thus, for wine tourism to work, there must be a cluster of vineyards in close proximity ton each other, (2) there is coordination with other components of the tourism industry, from tour companies to international guides, (3) the beer halls, vineyards, chocolate stores must collaborate with each other.
  • Assure that local foods are fresh and wholesome.  There is nothing that can destroy culinary tourism faster than a reputation for lack of hygiene or for being a place in which people get sick.  Make sure that the water supply is adequate and potable.  Emphasize foods that are fresh, local, organic, and sustainable.  Using seasonal foods means that your culinary tourism product changes with the seasons and that you can encourage repeat visitation.  Remember to keep things as uncomplicated as possible. When it comes to culinary tourism remember the simpler and easier to understand the better.
  • All forms of culinary tourism are especially appealing to rural areas.  These are areas that often lack indoor attractions, are close to food sources, and often have preserved local traditions. Rural food tourism locations that are most successful have found ways to protect their food ecology and offer interesting and hardy meals at reasonable prices.  The keys are (1) excellent and friendly customer service (2) unique or wholesome foods, reasonable prices, and local marketing so that the outsider knows not only where to go but also hours of service.  Rural culinary tourism can easily be linked to heritage and historical tourism.  These locations may not require a great deal of paid labor and often provide unique experiences.  For example, church suppers create a tourism experience, a social experience and a way for the local church to gain additional revenue.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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