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An overview of tourism planning

What is tourism planning?

Planning is an important part of management process. It is a process of selection from among alternative courses of action. It plays a very vital role in tourism development. According to Hall (2008) tourism planning can be described as a process of orderly thought which, by anticipating change, enables the future development of tourism to progress in a systematic way so that the benefits of tourism outweigh the costs by an acceptable margin.

Why tourism planning?

While tourism can benefit a country, it can damage it too. Many may argue that there is enough evidence that some tourism destinations have developed without conscious planning; however, it is also true that many of them have experienced unexpected consequences resulting in their deterioration. That’s why tourism planning is extremely important.

Planning is necessary in order to make tourism a successful long-term sustainable activity. Many tourist destinations around the world have lost their momentum due to a lack of thoughtful and long-term tourism planning.

Tourism has both negative and positive impacts on hosts and guests alike. One of the main purposes of planning will be to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive impacts. If tourism is not planned well, it may create a number of problems e.g. overcrowding in destinations, wear and tear, environmental degradation etc.

Tourism planning is also important for stakeholder engagement. It helps planners ensure that all stakeholders work together to increase tourist satisfaction. Likewise, as different stakeholders have different expectations; planners can address those expectations with appropriate planning.

Like other products and services, tourism destinations go through a life-cycle too. Planning can be extremely useful to extend the life-cycle of a destination by considering the issues of demand and supply, seasonality, and exploring new opportunities.

Levels of tourism planning

Tourism planning can take place at different levels e.g. international level, national level, regional level etc. Planning at different levels is concerned with different objectives. For example, planning at international level is mostly concerned with international transportation services, while at national level it is concerned with tourism policy and legislation. Similarly, regional level planning is concerned with regional policy, tourist accommodation and other tourist facilities.


As discussed above, there are a number of reasons why tourism needs thoughtful planning. Tourism is a dynamic industry which faces a number of challenges on a daily basis. In order to respond to these challenges positively and efficiently, tourism organisations need appropriate planning.

The article publication date: 12 April 2017

Further reading/references

Hall, C. M. (2008) Tourism Planning, Harlow: Pearson

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Author: Joe David

Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.

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