Stakeholders in tourism development
This article aims to identify the key stakeholders in tourism development. Stakeholders are very important for any organisation/industry, and without their support, and commitment, success can be a far-fetched idea.
Definition of stakeholder
A stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that can affect or be affected an organisation. According to Johnson, Scholes & Whittington (2006) stakeholders refer to individuals or groups who depend on the organisation to fulfil their own goals and on whom, in turn, the organisation depends.
Stakeholders in tourism development
Participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process is very important for sustainable tourism development. According to UNWTO (2005) there are several stakeholders who may impact directly or indirectly on tourism planning and development. They play a wide variety of roles and may sometimes have competing aims and objectives.
The roles of stakeholders in tourism development
In order to understand the roles of stakeholders in tourism development, it is important to identify who the key stakeholders are. That discussion that follows addresses this issue.
National governments play an important role in tourism development. They plan tourism activities at national levels. Planning at national levels require appropriate policies being designed and implemented.
National governments’ roles include but not limited to developing and maintaining infrastructures such as roads, railways, and ports; promoting destinations to local and international tourists; and ensuring safety and security of tourists.
The U.S. government’s 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy aims to position the country a premier destination and to promote a travel and tourism sector that drives economic growth, creates good jobs, and strengthens conservation and sustainability (ITA, 2023).
The UK government has recently invested very well to deliver new tourism outside London and ease travel around Britain, which is aimed at helping local and international visitors to explore the wealth of tourism opportunities across the country.
The local governments with specific competence in tourism matters also play an important role in tourism development. They promote local tourist attractions, provide infrastructure and services to support tourism and manage the impacts of tourism.
For example, the Mayor of London redoubled his commitment in 2022 to boost tourism in the capital. Tourism is indeed a vital part in the capital’s social and economic life (GLA, 2023).
The local governments are also in a better position to understand unique characteristics of a destination and can create an authentic experience for the people who want to visit it.
Tourism establishments and enterprises
Tourism establishments and enterprises play a variety of roles in tourism development. For example, airlines, trains, and buses transport tourists from one place to another, restaurants provide them with food and drinks, and hotels provide accommodation.
Tour operators, travel agencies, and tourist information centres also fall into this category. In fact, travelling abroad is almost impossible without tourism organisations.
Travellers, including business travellers, and visitors to tourism destinations, sites and attractions are perhaps the most important stakeholders. Tourists visit attractions; spend money; and may promote the attractions through word of mouth and social media if their experience is positive.
If the experience is not positive, tourists may not return to the attractions again, and may even spread negative word of mouth. This could be very fatal for any destination.
Tourism employees, professionals and consultants also play a very important role in tourism development. According to Visit Britain (2023) tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms for a long time. It is expected to support almost 3.8 million jobs, which is around 11% of the total UK number by 2025.
These figures demonstrate how important tourism employees and professionals are. Restaurants, hotels, airlines, buses, trains, and others will certainly struggle should they employ an inadequate number of employees, or there are shortages of skilled people in the market.
Local people are also very important in tourism development. They may have legitimate concerns and may resist any tourism development. Therefore, they need to be involved in the decision-making process where appropriate.
Local communities can provide valuable insights into the needs and concerns of the local population, as well as valuable feedback on proposed tourism development projects.
Local people with their distinct values and cultures can add value to any tourist destinations. Tourists may also benefit from local people in many ways.
Non-government organizations are also important stakeholders in tourism development. They often focus on social and environmental issues and can provide valuable insights into potential impacts of tourism development projects.
There are some other stakeholders that tourism planners should consider. For example, institutions engaged in financing tourism projects, trade unions of employees, and professionals working in tourism, tourism educational centres, and other tourism specialist organisations play a variety of roles in tourism development.
Importance of stakeholders in tourism development
Having discussed the roles of stakeholders in tourism development, this article now focuses on their importance. As identified above, there are a number of stakeholders in tourism development who tourism planners must consider.
Modern tourism world is a complex web of interconnected stakeholders. Therefore, understanding their needs and desires is important to get the best results in planning and developing tourism projects.
Stakeholders can provide valuable feedback on proposed projects, which can help identify potential problems before they become actual problems. This can lead to cost savings and more efficient management of projects.
Engaging stakeholders in tourism development
Engaging stakeholders in tourism development is a complex process. It is therefore important to understand their interests to ensure that their voices are heard. It is also important to ensure that they feel that their input is valued and appreciated.
There are several strategies and methods that can be used to engage stakeholders in tourism development. These include direct communication, public meetings, focus groups, and surveys. It is important to select the right strategy and method for each stakeholder group, as different stakeholders may respond differently to different methods of engagement.
Direct communication can be used to engage stakeholders on an individual or small group basis. This can be done in person, or through telephone or email.
Public meetings can be used to engage large groups of stakeholders. This can be a good way to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns. It is important to ensure that the meeting is well organized and that all stakeholders are able to participate.
Surveys can also be used to engage stakeholders on a larger scale. They can provide valuable insights into the interests and concerns of stakeholders. However, they usually provide quantitative data only.
Challenges of involving stakeholders in tourism development
One of the biggest challenges of involving stakeholders in tourism development is lack of trust between stakeholders. This can lead to conflicts between them, which can make it difficult to engage them in the tourism development process.
Another challenge is the lack of resources. It can be difficult to engage stakeholders if there are not enough resources to support the engagement process. This can include lack of time, money, and personnel. Therefore, it is important to ensure that there are adequate resources available to successfully engage stakeholders.
Strategies for overcoming challenges of involving stakeholders in tourism development
There are several strategies that can be used to overcome the challenges of engaging stakeholders in tourism development. One strategy is to ensure that all stakeholders have access to relevant information, and they feel that their input is valued and appreciated.
Another strategy is to ensure that the engagement process is transparent and inclusive. This can help to build trust between stakeholders and can help ensure that they are engaged in the process very well.
Summary of stakeholders in tourism development
Engaging stakeholders in tourism development can have several benefits. Understanding their interests and engaging them in the process can help to ensure that projects are well designed, well-funded, and well managed.
However, it is worth mentioning that all the stakeholders may not have equal power and interest in a particular tourism project. It is therefore important for planners to identify who the most important stakeholders in tourism development are so that they can devise an appropriate communication strategy. The article on Stakeholder mapping- stakeholder analysis provides more information on how to identify the most important stakeholders.
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Last update: 22 January 2023
GLA (2023) Mayor reaffirms commitment to boosting tourism, available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-reaffirms-commitment-to-boosting-tourism (accessed 22 January 2023)
Johnson, G, Scholes, k, & Whittington, R. (2006) Exploring Corporate Strategy, 7th edition, Prentice Hall
ITA (2023) 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy, available at: https://www.trade.gov/national-travel-and-tourism-strategy (accessed 22 January 2023)
Pearson Education Limited (2011) Travel and Tourism Management: Study Guide, Essex: Pearson Education Limited
Visit Britain (2023) Britain’s visitor economy facts, available at: https://www.visitbritain.org/visitor-economy-facts (accessed 22 January 2023)
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Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.