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Cape Breton Highland National Park’s SWOT Analysis Case Study

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020

Executive Summary

Cape Breton Highlands National Park has been identified as one of the most scenic attraction sites with steep cliffs, waterfalls, and diversified wildlife, among other things. This implies that the park forms a preferable option for foreign and local tourists in Canada.

However, it has been established that the park is challenged by issues of insecurity due to attacks by coyotes. In addition, there are few fueling points within the park, and the motor vehicles might become stuck during the tour. Whereas these afflictions prevail, the park has an opportunity to expand its accessibility on the Eastern side to increase its customers and also introduce ecological tourism.

When focusing on the marketing plan and its implementation, it is evident that the management should focus on new categories of customers, including the students and group tourists. In addition, they should improve their support services, such as fueling services and security against coyotes.

This will ensure that the competitors do not take these afflictions to acquire a competitive edge on their side. Although these changes will be made, the management must go a step further to publicize them through advertisement. Besides, they should ensure that the prices are partitioned to accommodate different customers and loyalty program set for membership.

Introduction

Investments need detailed situational, and financial analyses are very crucial in order to make the decision as to whether it is solvent or not. In relation to this task, it is evident that the park requires making various changes that can help to increase the number of customers visiting the premises. As a result, the discussion focused on the SWOT analysis and then came up with distinct ways of rectifying the weaknesses that might exist.

In a nutshell, it was discovered that the park should add security agencies, include a travel program, and set up an ecological training center for the sake of students. These undertakings were considered as the most pertinent solutions. Besides, it was recommended that the park should open up the eastern side for the sake of increasing the market share.

Situational Analysis: Based on SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Rich Natural Attractions

Cape Breton Highlands National Park (CBHNP) has rich wildlife and attractive feature that ensure a continuous flow of tourists (Barrett, 2002). First, it is evident that the park has steep cliffs and deep rivers that form a favorite tourist attraction. In addition, the park is located near a forested plateau where animals find a favorable environment. Besides the forested nature, the park is along the Atlantic Ocean, which provides profound advantages (Fischer & Hudson, 2010).

First, the steep hills allow the formation of valleys that lead to the existence of waterfalls. Indeed, these waterfalls become a critical center of interest for the tourists. Foreigners and local people enjoy being at the waterfalls along the rivers and taking photos for remembrance. As a result, they become important attraction features that act as assets for the park’s financial gain. In addition, the strategic location beside the Atlantic Ocean has facilitated the existence of a sandy beach that enables the tourist to bask in the sun. Indeed, sunbathing is one of the most preferred activities in Europe owing to the short period of the summer season (Gibson & Heal, 2013).

In essence, the summer lasts for a very limited time such that sunbathing becomes fun and a rare undertaking. Consequently, any tourist attraction site that has a favorable beach is a good option for tourists. Moreover, it was stated that the park is engulfed within a forested plateau. In the common creation of nature, forests provide a suitable environment for wild animals and plants.

In fact, it has been established that the park has a rich diversity of wildlife, which develops interest among the tourists in the local and foreign localities (Kobayashi, Cameron & Baldwin, 2011). The deciduous trees are also attractive and provide habitat for the existing birds. As a result, it is a park whose natural components provide a competitive edge for the realization of profits and income.

Use of Skyline Trail

This is a hiking trail that loops for seven kilometers around the park to ease the accessibility of the park and cliffs. It has been positioned near the French Mountain on the west of Cabot rail. It has been known for the scenic views that are beyond reproach and its capability to facilitate a satisfactory tour around the park. The trail has strong capabilities to assist in effective movement around the park. It has a loop that leads to a boardwalk in a middle way. The second half consists of a trail that is used for easy hiking towards the upper sides of the cliffs. It helps to have an expansive view of the Cabot trail and the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, the facilitation of the Atlantic view is critical to the tourists’ satisfaction.

Weaknesses

Insecurity

The park has been affected negatively by the cases of insecurity, especially when using the trail. In several incidences, tourists have been attacked by wild animals and killed due to a lack of sufficient security. In 2003, a folk singer from Canada was attacked by two coyotes and injured severely. The tourist was hiking the trail alone at around 3 o’clock in the evening (Santella, 2010).

After the attack, she was flown to a health center, but she died on the next day since the injuries were fatal. This attack happened after another one that took place in 2003 in a similar situation. A teenage girl was attacked by coyotes where her arm was bitten. This shows that even if the management had experienced an attack in 2003, they did not take sufficient measure to curb the situation. This shows that the management has neglect security, or they have been unable to provide it satisfactorily.

Imbalanced Visitation

It is noted that the western part of the park receives more visitors than the western part (Weaver & Lawton, 2010). Evidently, this is an imbalance showing that the park has not been exploited maximally. This implies that the park management has wasted critical resources since the Eastern holds attraction sites that can provide the needed scenes. When analyzing the reasons as to why the part receives few visitors, it was found that the section is not as accessible as the western side. As a result, it can be concluded that the poor visitation is caused by the reluctance of the management to open up the Eastern part. From a different perspective, however, the weakness presents an opportunity that will be discussed in the next paragraph.

Opportunities

Huge Area of Focus for Tourists

The park is enclosed by two coastal parts, including both the Canadian and English sides. The Canadian side comprises of Acadian culture while the English coast is defined by the Western people. In fact, it appears that the area is a combination of two parks. The two coasts present an opportunity to the management since they increase the potential customers.

However, it was stated previously that the western side is frequently visited as compared to the Eastern side. This implies that the personnel in charge of marketing have an opportunity for expansion. The opportunity is based on the fact that they can identify some new tourist attractions on the eastern side and market them to open it up. Importantly, they should come up with strategies to open up this part considering that inaccessibility is the main problem. As a result, the management can increase the number of tourist in the subsequent years.

Offering Transport

Due to the large area covered by the park, the tourists use motor vehicles to drive around the sites. However, there are many potential tourists who do not own personal vehicles for the purpose of the tour. Although this deficiency of the personal motor vehicles is existent, there are very few options of using public transport. This implies that the park can consider solving this problem and earn the opportunity of increasing its customers. In this regard, the management can consider investing in park buses and vans.

These vessels will be used to transport the visitors around the park at an additional fee. Considering the incumbent issues of insecurity raised by the coyotes, the buses can solve this issue since the tour guides will give the needed precautions during the tour. In the perspective of profitability, it cannot be disputed that the buses will act as a fixed investment with little maintenance cost.

On the other hand, there can be substantial increment in the number of visitors who would bring more income as compared to the cost incurred. In addition, the buses can be used to make seasonal trips for some predictable groups such as college students. In essence, it is evident college student do not have personal vehicles to use for their tour, and they obviously need to explore the park. This can be facilitated by the park’s buses since the management will be capable of making an arrangement with the concerned groups. This strategy will be crucial to ensure that the park benefits from most of the tourists’ expenditures as far as the tour is concerned.

Ecological Studies

In Biology, Ecology is one of the most crucial topics that are taught to the students in an attempt to produce professionals who can take care of the environment (Maher, 2010). In the process of their academic courses, these students need to do experiments to conceptualize the theoretical knowledge they acquire in class. The park is a perfect preservation ground for ecological components of nature including the marine and terrestrial organisms. This condition implies that the park can be used as a site for academic tourism where students apply their conceptual knowledge through observation. Additionally, the students can conduct experiments under the directions of their tutors in order to get practical experience about nature. It can be concluded that students present a critical opportunity to the park in regard to increasing income and making more profit.

Threats

Having discussed the weaknesses of the park, it is evident that the future of the park is confronted by various important threats if the afflictions are not solved. First, it is clear that the coyotes attack tourist successfully to the extent of killing some of them.

This was experienced in 2003 and 2009 under similar circumstances within the park. Whereas the number of years between the two attacks is substantial, it cannot be disputed that the attacked people lost their lives in the process of having fun. This shows that the management has not been diligent enough to curb the prevalent problem. In fact, it is noted that the park management gives bare precautions, and it is within the mandate of the tourists to follow the precautions. If the tourists get an impression of negligence on the side of the management regarding this issue, there is a possible threat of fear among potential tourists and lack of confidence. This cannot be ignored since the park needs to maintain the existent customers while finding for more subscribers.

Besides the issues of insecurity, there are very few fueling points that exist within the park. This implies that the vehicle users need to carry enough fuel or estimate the usage in accordance to the brochures given by the management in order to locate the next fueling point. Essentially, people visit the park for fun and exploration among other personal reasons. When there is uncertainty in the availability of the fueling points, the customers might be discouraged by insufficiency. The threat is amplified by the possibility that competing parks can provide sufficient fueling points and get a competitive edge.

Marketing Plan

Customers and Market

The park should focus on the customers from both the Eastern and Western coasts that surround the area. This will ensure that the imbalance between the two sides is eliminated, and more customers are obtained. Additionally, it has been noted that there are very few customers who visit the park for academic purposes. This implies that the marketing plan should focus on this set of people.

Besides the two types of customers, the availability of motor vehicles presents another kind of explorers who are affected by personal resources. There are potential tourists who cannot visit the park because they cannot afford personal transport to drive or ride around the park. As a result, this becomes another segment of potential customers. In essence, the three categories are the pertinent ones when it comes to the issue of increasing the customers in the next three years.

Services and Product

The existing service offered by the park is an opportunity to enjoy the natural scenes, including the waterfalls, wildlife, and hospitality within their hotels. Whereas the major product is satisfactory, the management needs to introduce academic exploration as an important provision that could tap students. This will ensure that the park received more students in the subsequent years especially due to the rising prevalence of ecological studies. Additionally, the park needs to concentrate on the sufficiency of the support services since they help to maintain the customers.

In this regard, they should increase the fueling points to avoid a situation where they discourage the customers based on the fears of getting stuck. In addition, they should also ensure that the customers have complete confidence in relation to the attacks caused by the coyotes. Even if some of these aspects of supporting services can be termed as negligible, the competitors can use them to obtain an upper hand and beat the park. This implies that the management must pay close attention and eliminate any shortcomings that may arise.

Lastly, the park should venture to provide another classification for the rare species in their viewing list. In this case, they should identify the rare animals and put them in an orphanage where people can view them. This will provide a sense of specialty and add value to the exploration. As a result, the customers can choose to visit the park for the sake of seeing a certain rare species. This will increase the number of people seeking to visit the park for leisure, academics and exploration.

Competitors

The park experiences heating competition from many national parks in Canada. This implies that the company cannot afford to ignore some of the afflictions that are experienced within park despite its scenic feature. This is based on the premises that similar services are offered by the competing national parks, and if they afford to provide good supporting products, they can outdo the park easily.

In fact, if the fueling points and issues of coyotes’ attacks are not addressed properly, they might become a weak point for the company and eventually enable competitors to outdo the park. As a result, these issues must be considered not only because of their effects on the tourist, but also the competitive advantage that the competitors can get from them.

Implementation of the Market Plan

Price Partitioning

In order to target different categories of customers, including the students, foreigners, and the locals among others, it is important that the prices are segmented according to the customers. In this regard, there should be a special and low price for students who come for academic trip. This will work as an act of corporate social responsibility while still obtaining income.

On the other hand, foreigners should be charged higher that the local tourists in order to support internal exploration. This support is necessitated by the low levels of local tourism that have been experienced in the country. Further, the support services, such as accommodation and provision of fuel points, should be subsidized in order to create the impression of affordability. Besides the support services, the management should ensure that the group tourism is encouraged and the specific bus prices set. The bus fare will be set in accordance to the prevalent public transport to ensure that they are more preferable than the latter.

Promotion

There are several things that should be done in order to promote the above services and products in the park. First, the marketing department should conduct a thorough advertisement of the new services and their pricing. The importance of this advertisement is to make the potential customers aware of the new pricing systems and changes that have been made in the park.

It is common knowledge that most customers do not hesitate from using services because they do not need them. Instead, most of them have no information about the services offered and the changes that may take place. As a result, making brochures and distributing them to universities, meetings, and hotels can work effectively. However, this is just an example of how it can be done.

The second strategy that can be used to promote the product is conceiving the loyalty program. In this case, the management should develop a membership card so that the visitor gets points for every visit. After accumulation, these points can be redeemed and used for certain benefits such as fishing in accordance with the regulations of the park. Lastly, the park’s management should be providing subsidies during holidays to woo more customers. This reduction should be done during the winter seasons when people do not prefer going for out for fun. In this case, the management will encourage the academicians and explorers to use this time to accomplish their work.

Partnerships

The company should initiate the creation partnerships with other competing companies based on some common interest in order to reduce the rivalry. This will ensure that the two companies share the leadership and hence enjoy better enjoyment as well as shared resources. As a result, the park will be able to evade possible pressure from their able competitors and give it time to transform the existing afflictions. The partnership can also enable the two companies to share cost for common services and products used as capital.

Summary

It is evident that this Cape Breton Highlands National Park has some of the most attractive scenes in the world with waterfalls and diverse wildlife.

As a result, most of the tourists consider it as a good option for exploration and fun. However, the park is being confronted by challenges such as insecurity and lack of enough fueling points. These aspects must be addressed in order to ensure that the other parks do not use the weaknesses to get competitive edge. In addition, the park has an amazing capability of expansion whereby they can open up the Eastern wing to allow for more people to visit the park and explore the natural scenes. In addition, it can indulge in ecological tourism where students visit the premises for academic purposes

When focusing on the marketing plan and its implementation, it is evident that the management should focus on new categories of customers, including the students and group tourist. In addition, they should improve their support services such as the fueling services and security against coyotes. This will ensure that the competitors do not take these afflictions to acquire a competitive edge on their side.

Appendix: Financial Analysis

In essence, it was discovered that the park needs to make various changes in the operations in order to increase the number of customers and help to maintain the current ones. In this regard, the research discovered that there was the need to setup a travelling program for the tourist, especially students who cannot afford personal transport. Additionally, the park ought to add more petrol stations, tighten up security, and construct an ecological center for students studying biology. This is the cost breakdown for the new investments.

Item Cost
Acquisition of two travel buses $ 658, 000
Addition of three petrol station around the park $400, 000
Setting up an ecological center for learning $ 100000
Additional Security $50000

References

Barrett, C. (2002). Cape Breton Highlands National Park: a park lover’s companion. Wreck Cove, N.S.: Breton Books. Web.

Fischer, G., & Hudson, N. (2010). Unforgettable Canada: 100 destinations (2nd ed.). Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press;. Web.

Gibson, M. D., & Heal, M. R. (2013). The spatial and seasonal variation of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Canada, and the association with lichen abundance. Atmospheric Environment, 64, 303-311. Web.

Kobayashi, A., Cameron, L., & Baldwin, A. (2011). Rethinking the Great White North: race, nature, and the historical geographies of whiteness in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press. Web.

Maher, P. (2010). Polar tourism: human, environmental, and governanace dimensions. Putnam Valley, NY: Cognizant Communication Corporation. Web.

Santella, C. (2010). Fifty places to hike before you die: outdoor experts share the world’s greatest destinations. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Web.

Weaver, D., & Lawton, L. (2010). Tourism management (4th ed.). Milton, Qld.: John Wiley & Sons Australia. Web.

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