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Tourism marketing – definition and importance

Tourism marketing – definition and importance

This article ‘Tourism marketing – definition and importance’ aims to explore the definitions and concepts of tourism marketing. It also aims to explore the importance and characteristics of tourism marketing. There is no doubt that many organisations and individuals around the world promote destinations and attractions through advertising and/or other forms of marketing. Their primary objective is to stand out from their competitors to secure their positions in the market.

Definitions of tourism marketing

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (2003), a leading authority of marketing in the UK, marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. This is a definition of marketing in general which makes customers the focal point for organisations’ activities.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO (n.d.) tourism marketing is a management philosophy which, in the light of tourist demand, makes it possible through research, forecasting and selection of tourism products/services from suppliers, on the line with organization’s purpose and tourist satisfaction.

Concepts of tourism marketing

Tourism marketing takes a look at how individuals and organisations make use of marketing strategies and techniques to promote their services to tourists. Marketing as a process has four main stages, namely organisational audit, marketing strategy, marketing mix decisions, and implementation. This article looks into tourism marketing in line with that process.

Tourism organisational audit

An organisational audit looks into the strengths and the weaknesses of an organisation. It also looks into opportunities and threats facing the organisation. A number of tools can be used for this e.g. SWOT, and PESTEL. Surely, like organisations in all other industries, tourism organisations also have some sorts of strengths and weaknesses.

As an example, let us consider some strengths and weaknesses of British Airways (BA). BA is one of the world’s leading premium airlines. It has 90+ years of industry experience and has a strong brand image. However, over reliance on the UK market is one of its weaknesses.

Tourism marketing strategy

Marketing strategy is about dealing with three very important issues i.e. segmentation, targeting and positioning. Segmentation is the process of defining and subdividing a large market into identifiable segments. There are different variables for market segmentation e.g. demographic, geographic, and psychographic.

British Airways often uses demographic variables for the purpose of market segmentation. It targets different types of customer segments for its four levels of services: economy, premium economy, executive and first class. It positions itself as a full-service global airline, offering year-round low fares (British Airways, 2021).

Tourism marketing mix decisions

There are 7Ps that constitute the marketing mix i.e. product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence. Tourism organisations must have right services available at right places to be sold at a right price. British Airways sell flight tickets at a reasonable price. Customers can book tickets through call centres, online websites and travel agents. BA has used both electronic and print media for promotional purposes. For example, TV channels, the Internet, magazines, and billboards have been used for appealing advertisements over the years.

Implementation of a tourism marketing plan

Once a marketing plan is developed, the next stage is implementation and control. Organisations need to ensure that they have made the right decisions concerning marketing strategies and marketing mix techniques. They also need to ensure that appropriate resources e.g. time, people, and money are available to implement the marketing plan.

Importance of tourism marketing

Tourism marketing may sometimes be challenging and expensive particularly when attracting both national and international tourists. Therefore, marketers need to fully understand their customers’ needs and desires so that they can devise an appropriate marketing plan.

Tourism contributes a lot to a country’s GDP. For instance, the United States’ travel and tourism industry contributed $1,667 billion dollars to the GDP in 2019. China’s tourism industry’s contribution to the GDP in the same year was $1,581 billion dollars (Statista, 2021). Consequently, countries around the world invest in tourism development and promote attractions to tourists. Appropriate tourism marketing strategies and techniques help countries and organisations achieve their business objectives.

Tourism industry is highly competitive. There are so many airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tour operators out there for tourists to choose from. This intense competition makes it mandatory for tourism organisations to stand out from their rivals. This can be achieved with a comprehensive tourism marketing communications system in place.

Characteristics of tourism marketing

Tourism marketing is slightly different from other types of marketing. Tourists go on holidays and visit attractions temporarily and for a very brief period. Therefore, appealing to their emotions becomes important for tourism marketing planners.

As tourists cannot touch and feel the services provided by tourism organisations before the actual consumption, they often require reassurance that service claims match the services actually provided. Therefore, it is important for tourism organisations that there are no discrepancies between what they claim and what they offer.

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Last update: 24 March 2021

Further Reading/References

British Airways (2021) about British Airways, available at (Accessed 23 March 2021)

Lancaster, G. & Reynolds, P. (2004) Marketing, 1st Edition, Palgrave Macmillan

Statista (2021) Total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in selected countries worldwide in 2019, available at: (accessed 23 March 2021)

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.