CHAPTER 2 TOURISM SYSTEM

4. Tourist Perception

2.5 THE SUPPLY SIDE - TOURISM PRODUCT

2.5.3 The Components of Tourist Destination

There are two main features through which a tourist destination contributes to its attractiveness for tourists. They are the primary and secondary resources. Primary resources include the attributes of climate, ecology, cultural traditions, traditional architecture and landscapes. Secondary resources comprise the service-oriented aspects that facilitate and make the holiday trip and tourists pleasure possible. These are infrastructure including accommodation and transport, catering, easy access, reception and services, activities and amusements and other facilities. The primary features of the destination are the most important elements which tourists enjoy, but the secondary features are still required as the industry (Gunn, 1994; Inskeep, 1991;

Laws, 1995; Middleton, 2001; Ritchie, Crouch & Hudson).

Gearing et al. ( 197 4) in their establishing determinants for measures of destination attractiveness have classified tourism products at the destination into five main components. They include natural factors, social factors, historical factors, recreation and shopping facilities, and infrastructure and food and shelter. Ritchie

modifications to meet with their study of the attractiveness of destination. They include five main factors or attributes, that is, natural beauty and climate, cultural and social characteristics, sports, recreation and educational facilities, shopping and commercial facilities, infrastructure of the region, price level, attitudes towards tourists, and accessibility of the region.

From the light of the above discussion, the overall tourism products may be categorised into five main components. They are (1) attractions, (2) facilities, reception and services, (3) accessibility, (4) destination image and attitudes of tourists, and ( 5) cost/price to the customers.

2.5.3.1 Attractions

The attractions of tourist destinations are principal components which have the greatest impact and largely determine tourists' choice and influence their buying motivations. They include natural resources, human-made attractions, and hospitality (Gartner, 1996; Gunn, 1994; Inskeep, 1991 ; Middleton, 2001; Ritchie et al. 2001).

The elements of natural resources incorporate land, landscape, flora and fauna, climate, water, and other geographical features of the destination and its natural resources. For many locations, land and landscape such as mountains, ski hills, wildlife species and water features (lakes or waterfalls) are the most important destination attributes. They are extremely valuable tourism assets since they are central to a destination's appeal and they are the foundation from which other resources are created and developed (Godfrey & Clarke, 2000; Gunn, 1994;

Inskeep, 1991; Middleton, 2001; Ritchie et al. 2001).

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Human-made attractions also occur at the tourist destinations. They embrace 'both past and present lifestyles, attitudes, and social settings' (Godfrey & Clarke, 2000, p.

67). These are not only elements reflecting historical features, such as old and ancient buildings and ruins, architectural and artistic buildings and monuments, historical and heritage sites, but also the current culture reflecting how people from that area and ethnic origin live, work and play (Godfrey & Clarke, 2000). Parks and gardens, convention centres, marinas, industrial archaeology, golf courses, specialty shops, theme parks, theme retail areas, and special hallmark events are also human­

made assets (Middleton, 2001 ). Indeed, both natural and human-made resources function as 'the true travel product' and 'the reward from travel' which provide tourists with satisfaction (Gunn, 1994, p. 58).

Another resource that plays an important part is the human factor. People and aspects of their ways of life and customs, languages, and activities provide opportunities for social encounters such as festive and religious events, dances, music, food, and other entertainment. They have also become a powerful 'pull' factor to motivate tourists' choice (Middleton, 2001). However, although a destination can attribute with the finest attractions which might be available to tourists, the place can detract from its overall appeal if tourists are made to feel unwelcome by the host population (French et al. 1995).

2.5.3.2 Facilities, Reception and Services

Although tourist destination facilities, reception and services are considered to be secondary or supporting products and not, in themselves, tourist attractions, they are

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crucial because 'they .make it possible for tourists to stay, enjoy, and participate in the tourist attractions per se,' (Middleton, 2001, p. 3). The lack of goods and services might result in tourists avoiding a certain destination (French et al. 1995).

Facilities and services at the tourist destinations include both infrastructural and superstructural elements. Infrastructure is also included in this category. It ranges from access to the destination such as waterways, harbours, roads, railroads, car parks, and airports, to the fundamental supporting systems such as electricity and water supplies, sewerage and waste disposal, and communication facilities. They all make tourism possible (Middleton, 2001). The lack of infrastructure and technology in a destination are also visible features of developed and under-developed tourism products that can factor into the tourists' vacation experience (Choy, 1992; Johnson

& Edwards, 1994).

The superstructure includes accommodation units such as hotels, hostels, motels, resorts, holiday villages, apartments, campsites, caravan parks, farms, and guesthouses. Restaurants, bars and cafes ranging from fast-food through luxury restaurants are also included (Middleton, 2001). Services and reception are also significant resources for tourism. Entertainment, shopping and recreation facilities, financial services, health centres, tourism police, information centres, travel agents, printing, insurance, cleaning, Internet services, wholesaling and retailing are other services functions which make travel easier, more effective, and impressive to visitors (French et al. 1995). Facilities and services, therefore, play a fundamental supporting role in the overall tourism product.

2.5.3.3 Accessibility

'Accessibility' is the term referred to the relationship between both private and public transport forms in tourism. It is an important element of the tourism product which carry travellers from the generating regions to tourist destination (Prideaux, 1999). Also, it covers the transport within and between, chosen destinations. These include air, sea, and land transport. Just as the attractions and facilities and services attract visitors; ease of access to any destination is regarded as a very crucial attribute which tourists consider before their last buying decision is made (French et al., 1995). Moreover, the geographical proximity of the chosen destination, which contributes to the time to reach the destination, the cost of travelling to there and the frequency of transport, safety concerns, and the level of comfort are also influential on the flows of tourism and on the types of product which tourists purchase (Middleton, 2001; Prideaux, 1999).

2.5.3.4 Image and Attitude of Tourists

Image is 'the sum of beliefs, ideas and impressions that a person has regarding a destination. It is a personal composite view of a destination's tourism potential, and where prices are comparable it is often the desire factor in a tourist's selection process' (Murphy, 1985, p. 11). Each tourist's motivations and perceptions construct his/her ideal tourist destination. Tourist image construction is 'of upmost importance because the appeal of tourist attractions arises largely from the image conjured up, partly from direct or related experience and partly from external resources and influences' (Hall, 1998, p. 14). An image or a 'brand name' gives the product an easily recognisable 'identity,' and it promises 'reliability' and 'consistency.' An analogy can be seen in the way that people prefer to buy from someone they know

than from a stranger and they prefer to buy branded goods rather than loose products in brown paper bags (Morgan, 1996).

The images and attitudes that customers have towards products at tourist destinations also strongly influence their buying decisions (Middleton, 2001).

Therefore, images of tourist destinations are very powerful motivators in travel and tourism markets. Goodall (1988, p. 3) notes that 'each individual, given their personal likes and dislikes, has a preferential image of their ideal holiday. This conditions their expectations, setting an aspiration level or evaluative image against which actual holiday opportunities are compared.' Therefore, destination image plays an important part in the tourism industry, as Hall (1998, p. 15) states 'tourism is an industry built on the selling of image and fantasy rather reality.' Thus, tourism research has frequently been concerned with the images held of particular places ( eg, Crompton, 1979; Echtner & Ritchie, 1993; Gartner, 1989; Gartner & Hunt, 1987;

Hunt, 1975; Mayo, 1973; Pearce, 1982) and of how these images are communicated (eg. Adams, 1984; Bhattacharyya, 1997; Britton, 1979; Cohen, 1989; Cohen &

Richardson, 1995; Mellinger, 1994; Moeran, 1983; Selwyn, 1993; Weightman, 1987).

2.5.3.5 Cost/Price to the Customer

An economic definition of holiday price is 'the level of consumer sacrifice or how much money are tourists prepared to sacrifice' in order to afford a particular vacation (Dickman, 1999, p. 233). As such, the price at which product is offered creates expectations of its quality and is related to product value.

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In terms of holiday markets, pnce 1s 'the sum of what it costs for travel, accommodation and participation in a selected range of facilities and services' (Middleton, 2001, p. 127). Pricing is an attribute of the product that can influence travellers' experiences and thoughts about a destination (Dieke, 1991; Stevens, 1992). Since the price structure of most destinations is offered in a range of levels, prices in the travel and tourism industry differ broadly. For example, tourists travelling thousands of kilometres and staying in five-star hotels pay a very different price in a destination from backpacker tourists staying in cheaper hostels. Price also differ by season, by choice of activities and internationally by exchanging rates as well as by distance travelled, transport mode and choice of facilities and services (Middleton, 2001).

In relation to the perceived value of vacation trip, which Morrison (1989) described as the mental estimate that consumers make of the travel product, where perceptions of value are drawn from a personal cost/benefit assessment. In this sense, the time or money invested in a trip is compared with the experiences gained from that visit as Stevens (1992) suggested that value perceptions arose from an assessment of the goods and services purchased at the destination.

In document A Study Of Destination Attractiveness Through Tourists\u27 Perspectives : A Focus On Chiang Mai, Thailand (Page 63-69)