It could be observed that in the contemporary world, which experiences the continuous impact of the globalization process, tourism is one of the industries that are rapidly developing. Taking into account the variety of different means to travel, people are able to take various tourist destinations considerably easy. However, it should also be noted that there are barriers to travel that can affect contemporary tourism to a vast extent.
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In his article, Edgell (2016) elaborates on various issues that are expected to challenge the industry of tourism in the near future. Among the different problems discussed in the article, several important barriers should be mentioned. They include the following factors: the problems with visas and passports, immigration-related complications, as well as the issue connected with the airline services, such as fees and delays (Edgell, 2016).
This list is considerably comprehensive as it mentions several highly important areas of concern. Nevertheless, it is argued that contemporary barriers to travel are not restricted to the mentioned factors as the overall problem is far more complicated due to the fact that it is deeply connected with the majority of spheres of modern life. This paper aims to elaborate on the variety of problems related to the industry of travel, referencing recent scholarly literature on the topic.
Borders as One of the Central Concepts in Tourism
First of all, it is decided to observe the concept of borders and cross-border tourism as it is one of the most evident barriers to travel in the contemporary world. Edgell (2016) mentions visas and passports as the most evident obstacles to traveling across the world, and this claim could hardly be denied. Despite the fact that the existence of the system of international passports and the major regulations about international travel is determined by several important factors, it is still possible to argue that overall this system represents a barrier to travel.
Therefore, it is essential to discuss the concept of borders and cross-border tourism. The article by Timothy, Saarinen, and Viken (2016) is dedicated to the exploration of the subject matter in the context of the Nordic region. The authors claim that security, political, socio-cultural, and economic mechanisms related to the concept of borders (or boundaries) have an immense impact on vastly different areas of concern, including “regional and industrial development, trade, human mobility, social networks, cultural diversity, environmental regulations and tourism” (Timothy, Saarinen & Viken 2016, p. 1).
It is worth mentioning that the authors elaborate on the topic from an interesting perspective as they acknowledge that even though the existence of borders naturally hinders the mobility of people, goods, and ideas, it also serves as the ground for connectivity (Timothy Saarinen & Viken 2016). Their paper is dedicated to the exploration of various phenomena related to the topic.
In general, it is evident that the authors’ point of view should be taken into account as it is highly valuable. Naturally, the borders are seen as barriers by people who have little to no desire to travel and to discover new opportunities. For people who are entitled to traveling abroad, crossing borders are one of the aspects of tourism, which also excites them. These claims, made by the authors, can serve as the confirmation of the fact that the importance of borders in the context of traveling is overrated.
Also, Timothy Saarinen and Viken (2016) mention such tendency as “de-bordering,” As the authors state, “recent geopolitical changes are blurring the traditional roles of borders as barriers to trade, communication, and human mobility, and lines of absolute sovereign control” (Timothy Saarinen & Viken 2016, p. 1). Accordingly, it could be projected that in near future the problem of visas and passports as barriers to travel can become irrelevant.
Technological Advancements as Enablers and Barriers to Travel
The second aspect of contemporary tourism that is of ambivalent nature is technological advancements. In general, it is apparent that in the majority of cases the overall progress of technologies facilitates the ability of people to travel to various destinations. However, it should also be observed that these advancements can act as barriers. The article by Neuhofer, Buhalis, and Ladkin (2015) dwells upon the discussion of this topic, stating that “information and communication technologies (ICTs) have had a major impact on the way people experience travel” (p. 789). Based on the assumption that technologies can significantly enhance the tourist experience, the authors aim to address various technology-related enablers and barriers to travel.
Using the qualitative approach, Neuhofer, Buhalis, and Ladkin (2015) reveal several principal findings. First of all, they found that enablers to travel in the context of technological advancements could be categorized into three groups:
- telecommunication and infrastructure, and
- usage and usability (Neuhofer, Buhalis & Ladkin 2015).
It is quite apparent that the mentioned aspects have a positive impact on the traveling process. However, as the focus of this paper is on the exploration of barriers to travel, it is of particular interest what is found by the authors in this field. Similar enough to the findings of the enablers, the authors mention that there are four main categories of barriers:
- telecommunication and infrastructure, and
- usage difficulties (Neuhofer, Buhalis & Ladkin 2015).
The hardware barriers are related to the deficiencies in the existing technologies, such as battery power-consuming travel applications on mobile phones and the availability of appropriate devices (Neuhofer, Buhalis & Ladkin 2015). Software barriers are closely related to the previous factor as they are also connected to the use of mobile devices.
Telecommunication and infrastructure barriers represent a comprehensive set of various factors. The authors observe the following examples: “the lack of Internet connection abroad (international travel), lack of network (rural contexts, camping) and limitations of infrastructure in developing countries (network coverage, Internet availability)” (Neuhofer, Buhalis & Ladkin 2015, p. 796). Thus, tourists are often restricted from accessing information in real-time and connect with other people. The fourth category that is mentioned by the authors, the usage barriers, appears to have much in common with the first two categories.
Neuhofer, Buhalis, and Ladkin (2015) discuss various instances in which the problems with software and hardware negatively impact the use of mobile applications, especially when the Internet is unavailable. In general, it could be concluded that the development of contemporary communication technologies, despite the fact that it made significant progress in recent decades, is still far from providing tourists with full comfort while traveling. Thus, one should consider this factor when discussing barriers to travel.
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Tourism in the Context of Disability
Further, it is appropriate to discuss more specific barriers to travel that were not mentioned in the article by Edgell (2016). One can begin with the exploration of such topics as problems that are faced by people with disabilities while traveling. As it is mentioned in the doctoral dissertation by Fraser (2017), there has been insufficient research in the field of disabled people’s participation in tourism. Nevertheless, this topic is of high significance due to the fact that various information, economic, social, and physical factors influence the emergence of barriers and risks to travel for people with disabilities.
Fraser (2017) conducted qualitative research that employed the sample of 149 disabled people, who participated in research either in the form of online surveys or by completing paper questionnaires in face-to-face interviews. The most important finding that was retrieved by Fraser (2017) is that the estimated gap between the disabled and the general population in the context of participation in tourism has increased in the recent 8 years. Moreover, it is also found that such factors as low level of income, increased price differentials, and negative attitudes to disability in some cultures also have an adverse impact on participation in tourism (Fraser 2017). Therefore, it could be stated with certainty that physical and mental disabilities represent a highly important barrier to travel.
Climate Change as the Important Factor Affecting Tourist Industry
Another factor, which is of immense significance in general but not given enough attention when discussing tourism-related issues, is climate change. The article by Dillimono and Dickinson (2015) dwells upon the discussion of this topic, with a particular focus on developing countries such as Nigeria. The reason for such a focus is explained by the authors in the following way: the relationships between climate change and tourism are largely studied in the context of developed countries, but in the case of countries that are currently experiencing economic growth, the effects of climate change will be a highly important factor (Dillimono and Dickinson 2015)
The qualitative study conducted by the authors is based on a sample of 20 Nigerian active tourists, which might appear as a small sample; however, given the specificity of the topic and the qualitative nature of the research, this sample could be considered as sufficient for drawing the conclusions. In general, the findings of the research by Dillimono and Dickinson (2015) are not promising as the authors state that the understanding of climate change and tourism patterns is considerably low among the sample. The participants were unwilling to contribute to the combat with climate change by altering their tourist behavior. Therefore, it is stated that the knowledge about climate change and its relation to various tourist patterns should be promoted among the population of developing countries.
Barriers to Travel: Example of Iran
Among other mentioned factors, it is of particular interest to observe the example of Iran. As Iran also represents a rapidly developing country, the questions related to the tourist industry are highly relatable in this case. In the article by Arabzadeh et al. (2015), the authors investigate various barriers to the development of the tourism industry in Iran. Evidently enough, the majority of the problems that are mentioned by Arabzadeh et al. (2015) were already discussed in this paper at least to some extent.
Particularly, the authors mention such factors as the weakness of marketing efforts, the absence of advertising, infrastructure barriers, the lack of cultural acceptance for tourism, and the overall underdevelopment of the tourist industry in Iran (Arabzadeh et al., 2015). Therefore, it is apparent that Iran experiences somewhat typical problems for a developing country in terms of the advancement of the country as a tourist destination.
Medical Tourism as the Industry with Specific Barriers
Lastly, it is possible to mention medical tourism as the rapidly developing branch of the tourist industry with its specific problems and barriers to travel. According to the article by Rokni, Turgay, and Park (2017), in which the authors focus on the case of South Korea, medical tourism is an emerging movement, which incorporates tourism and medicine industries. The tendency of people traveling abroad in order to access various healthcare services is largely growing across the world and on the example of South Korea, the authors observe the primary kinds of barriers that can prevent the industry from successful development (Rokni, Turgay & Park 2017). The following five factors represent the constituents of the model developed by the authors:
- policy-making and government regulations,
- communication skills,
- expertise, and
- promotion (Rokni, Turgay & Park 2017).
Accordingly, this example could be used as a framework for the development of medical tourism in other countries.
In conclusion, it is essential to state that the topic of barriers to travel in the contemporary world is a highly complicated subject matter that requires a thorough investigation. Based on the assumptions provided in the article by Edgell (2016), this paper attempted to discuss several aspects of the mentioned concern. As it is apparent from the discussion, the barriers to travel are not limited to what is mentioned in the study by Edgell (2016) since barriers to travel are far more diversified. Accordingly, this paper provides a brief overview of the state of international tourism in the modern globalized world. However, it could be stated that this paper can serve as the foundation for the development of further research.
Arabzadeh, E, Arabzadeh, S, Bavarsad, R & Arabzadeh, T 2015, ‘Assessing barriers factors in development of tourism in Iran’, International Journal of Management Research and Business Strategy, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 257-263.
Dillimono, HD & Dickinson, JE 2015, ‘Travel, tourism, climate change, and behavioral change: travelers’ perspectives from a developing country, Nigeria’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 437-454.
Edgell Sr, DL 2016, Future world issues that will impact on managing sustainable tourism. In Managing Sustainable Tourism (pp. 227-245). Routledge.
Fraser, D 2017, Perceptions of risks and barriers to participation in tourism for the disabled (Doctoral dissertation, University of Plymouth).
Neuhofer, B, Buhalis, D & Ladkin, A 2015, Technology as a catalyst of change: enablers and barriers of the tourist experience and their consequences. In Information and communication technologies in tourism 2015 (pp. 789-802). Springer, Cham.
Rokni, L, Turgay, AVCI & Park, SH 2017, ‘Barriers of developing medical tourism in a destination: a case of South Korea’, Iranian Journal of Public Health, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 930-937.
Timothy, DJ, Saarinen, J & Viken, A 2016, ‘Tourism issues and international borders in the Nordic Region’, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1-13.