Chapter 14. Back to the Big Picture: Globalization and Trends
Tourism in BC is already being impacted by globalization. The doors of the province have opened to travellers around the world, but especially from emerging markets such as China. Shifting products and services to meet the needs and desires of these new visitors will require flexibility and creativity for BC’s tourism industry in the future.
BC has also been impacted by the increase in new destinations, fighting for share of the growing tourism economy. Social media and other recent innovations in communication will continue to grow in importance for BC to generate awareness of its many tourism products and services. BC’s many unique cultures and experiences will help keep the province competitive as long as the industry also recognizes the potential negative impacts that tourism can have.
Recognition of tourism’s importance in BC’s economy, along with supportive legislation and funding, is key to the long-term survival of the industry. At the same time, steps must be taken to prepare for the effects of climate change, with potentially shorter winters and reductions in precipitation. BC’s tourism industry is already feeling the effects of collaborative consumption as services such as Airbnb grow in popularity in the province. The spread of technological advances and improved wireless access will help the industry satisfy this aspect of the market, while also increasing the means to raise awareness with more potential visitors.
To take advantage of these global opportunities, British Columbia’s tourism industry will have to react quickly to existing and emerging trends. In the meantime, we hope this textbook will serve as foundation for emerging tourism and hospitality professionals as they continue to learn about the industry.
What are some of the possible benefits and drawbacks of globalization on tourism?
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): a forum that brings together countries from the Asia Pacific region (including Canada), and which has a Tourism Working Group that looks at policy development in a tourism context
- Authenticity of experience: a hot topic in tourism that started with MacCannell in 1976 and continues to today; discussion of the extent to which experiences are staged for visitors
- BRIC: an acronym for the growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China
- BRICS: the acronym for the BRIC countries with the addition of South Africa or South Korea
- Collaborative consumption: also known as the sharing economy, a blend of economy, technology, and social movement where access to goods and skills is more important than ownership (e.g., Airbnb)
- Conscious consumerism: refers to consumers using their purchasing power to shape the world according to their values and beliefs
- Cultural commodification: the drive toward putting a monetary value on aspects of a culture
- Fad: something taken up in a finite, short amount of time — can represent a valuable business opportunity, but investment can be risky
- Globalization: the movement of goods, ideas, values, and people around the world
- Homogenizing: making the same, as in the effect of tourism helping to spread Western values, rendering one culture indistinguishable from the next
- In country: a term to describe using a local-ownership approach in order for the wealth generated from tourism to stay in a destination
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): a specialized agency of the United Nations that creates global air policy and helps to develop industry capacity and safety
- MINT: an acronym for the countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): an organization 31 member countries who gather to discuss a range of policy issues, with a special committee dedicated to tourism
- PESTLE: an acronym for political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental forces
- Tourism world-making: the way in which a place or culture is marketed and/or presented to tourists
- Trend: a phenomenon that influences things for a long period of time, potentially shifting the focus or direction of industry and society in a completely different direction
- VFR: an acronym for visiting friends and relatives; a tourism consumer market
How well do you know your key terms?
- What are three benefits of globalization in terms of tourism? What are three negative impacts due to global tourism?
- Why is it important for a local tour operator, general manager, or tourism business owner to think about globalization? Where should we be looking to understand globalization and future trends? Name three sources.
- How can you tell the difference between a fad and a trend?
- Identify two current political trends by reading this week’s headlines or scanning a social media news feed. What impacts do you see those trends having on tourism and hospitality?
- The claim of an authentic experience is a common promise for tourism marketers. Thinking back to previous chapters (e.g., Chapter 3 on accommodation, Chapter 6 on entertainment, Chapter 12 on Indigenous tourism), name two ways visitors can determine whether an experience is authentic. In your own words, what is the value of authenticity, if any, in a globalized world?
- The industry has lobbied the Canadian government for policy changes that could help our country become a more competitive destination. Name two areas where these changes could be made.
- Name an economic trend that is prevalent in today’s news and media (e.g., the position of Canada’s dollar versus the U.S. dollar). List the five sectors of tourism, and next to each, identify two impacts this economic trend will have on the sector. Will the effects be the same across the industry? Or different?
- Name three environmental trends (e.g., climate change). For help, you can refer back to Chapter 10 on environmental stewardship.
- Destinations are beginning to recognize a trend toward travel as a bonding experience for families and groups. What kinds of experiences can be developed to attract this market? Name three examples.
- Thinking into the future, predict one trend in each PESTLE area (political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental) that you feel will have long-lasting effects on tourism and hospitality.
- Imagine you own a small tourism or hospitality business. Using one future trend you identified in the previous question, and referring back to Chapter 11 on risk management and legal liability, identify three ways you could mitigate the negative impacts of this trend.
A 2014 article in the The Atlantic titled “The Rise of Dark Tourism” profiled the increase in travel to destinations and cities related to war, famine, disease, or other dark cultural phenomena, often in real time.
The article primarily used examples of travel to war-torn areas of the Middle East. For instance, a tour that culminates at the Quneitra Viewpoint allows visitors to watch battles of the Syrian civil war in real time. Tour leaders include a retired Israel Defense Forces colonel who shared that tourists to the area “feel that they are a part of it. They can go home and tell their friends, ‘I was on the border and I saw a battle'” (Kamin, 2014, para. 2). Other tours travel to the Israeli border town of Sderot, an area on the Gaza Strip under heavy rocket fire.
According to Philip Stone, director of the Institute for Dark Tourism Research at the U.K.’s University of Central Lancashire, while war tourism is not a new phenomenon, the increased commercialization has marked a new trend. Dark tourism now has a more sophisticated infrastructure than the days when Thomas Cook took visitors to see hangings, and the increase in technology and interpersonal communications has caused this area of tourism to grow at a faster rate (Kamin, 2014).
The article cites media phenomena such as VICE videos (online documentaries) and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown, as well as the growth of the adventure tourism industry, as contributing factors. They list hyper-extreme tour operators such as War Zone Tours and Wild Frontiers (both in operation since the 1990s) as pioneers of the sector. More recent examples include former journalist Nicholas Wood, who formed Political Tours, a company that takes around a year to plan small-group excursions to political hot spots such as Libya, to the tune of $7,000 per guest (Kamin, 2014).
In addition to group tours, FIT (fully independent travellers) are creating their own extreme experiences, such as joining protestors in Kiev’s Independence Square and visiting Tahrir Square in Egypt to witness the election of Mohammed Morsi (Kamin, 2014).
Travel to North Korea is also a growing market, doubling in size each year with between 6,000 and 7,000 people making the trip in 2013. Some travellers cite their visits to countries and areas such as these with motivating them toward becoming journalists and activists. Others state their experiences are therapeutic, helping them to understand their own difficult experiences or those of others, such as the military service of family members (Kamin, 2014). According to one of these tourists, “You go to the most extreme place in order to not be alone with your feelings. You really can’t be anywhere else but there” (Kamin, 2014, para. 25).
Refer to the Institute for Dark Tourism Research and answer the following questions:
- Would you classify this type of travel as a trend, or a fad?
- The article seems to imply that dark tourism is an extension of adventure tourism. Do you agree? Why or why not?
- How does the concept of authenticity of experience factor into dark tourism?
- Imagine you are a citizen in a part of the world that is experiencing hardship and this type of tourism is increasing in your community. How might you feel about it?
- Imagine you go to a famous battlefield where Canadians had fought and died, such as Vimy Ridge the World War I battlefield in France. What are the visitor motivations and what is the outcome of the visitor experience?
- Would you classify visits to Ground Zero in New York as dark tourism? Why or why not?
- What are the implications for tourism operators in these areas in terms of risk management and legal liability?
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