The purpose and objective of this research essay is to assess the theory and practice of strategic planning for tourism with a particular focus on New Zealand. New Zealand is a small country that has a human population of four million inhabitants. Tourism has become an important income and export earner for the economic growth of the country. It currently contributes $18.6 billion dollars to the economy which is 9 percent of New Zealand’s gross domestic product.
The country receives 2.4 million visitors in one year from different parts of the world. The highest numbers are from the United Kingdom which accounts for 12 percent of tourist visitors followed by the United States which accounts for 9 percent of tourist visitors and China which accounts for 5 percent of tourist visitors from the Asian continent. When these tourist markets are combined they represent 69 percent of the international visitors who go to New Zealand for their holidays (Statistics New Zealand 2010).
The most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand include Rotorua, Queenstown, Kaikoura, Waitomo Caves and Milford Sound. The country has also been identified as a clean and green escapade playground with archetypal vacation destinations including the Abel Tasman National Park, Milford Sound and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The most common holiday activities that are common in New Zealand include bungee jumping, whale watching, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, adventure tourism, camping and nature trail walks.
The country also offers adventure tourism and active travel in its various destinations. Adventure tourism includes hiking and walking activities which can be done in the Milford Sound track or the Te Araroa Trail while visitors view the various types of nature (Middleton et al 2009).
The country has been voted as a top holiday destination as evidenced by the many awards it has received such as the most favourite destination in 2008 by readers of the Conde Nast Traveler magazine. It was also named the best overseas holiday destination by The Daily Telegraph in 2007.
Tourism activities have increased in the country as a result of the extensive marketing campaigns the country has conducted so as to increase the number of visitors to the country. These advertising campaigns that were initiated by the Tourism Board of New Zealand saw the number of international visitors to New Zealand increase by 61 percent (Middleton et al 2009).
Literature Review on Strategic Tourism Planning
Tourism is said to be the largest economic industry for most countries around the world. As the global economy continues to grow, more and more people are able to afford international travel and holidays to foreign countries around the world. According to the World Trade Organization (2005), more than 760 million international tourist arrivals were recorded in 2004.
The same year saw tourism revenue reaching a high of $622 billion with 52 percent of this amount being generated by the European tourist market, 21 percent being generated by the United States while 20 percent was generated by the Asian, African and Middle East market (Burkardt 2005).
The tourism and travel industry supports over 200 million jobs worldwide. This figure is expected to grow to 260 million jobs in 2011 given the growing globalization being experienced around the world. Such figures demonstrate the importance of tourism and the tourism industry around the world.
However, this industry is highly volatile and is easily affected by changes that take place in the economic, political, and technological environments. The climatic changes being experienced around the world have also affected the tourism industry as more tourists today prefer to travel to environmentally safe destinations such as New Zealand. Such environmental influences demonstrate the importance of practising effective and sustainable tourism planning that is strategic in nature (Gunn and Var 2002).
To better understand strategic planning in tourism, a definition of the term is necessary. Hall (2000) defines strategic planning as the direction that companies take to achieve their vision, goal, objectives and strategies. Strategic planning involves developing a set of strategies that will be used by managers or companies to achieve the set out goals and objectives.
Strategic planning also involves designing strategic plans that will be used to respond to the changing environmental situations such as technological innovations, political changes and economic fluctuations in the financial market (Burkardt 2005). Hall and page (2006) define strategic planning as the process that involves integrating management and planning activities in a concurrent manner. This means that the proactive approaches used in strategic planning should be incorporated into those used in management techniques.
The general foundation of tourism has been viewed to be very dynamic and unpredictable based on the changing environmental, economic and social factors. This dynamic nature makes it difficult to plan for tourism which mostly relies on creativity by the various stakeholders in the industry.
The ingenuity of creative people mostly results in dramatic changes in the sector that make it difficult to predict and plan for the future. New scientific and technological innovations have been viewed to upset the necessary formulas that are needed for tourism planning. Modern technology such as the Internet has also complicated the tourism planning process as it has made it difficult to visualize the future of tourism around the world.
The increase of ecotourism has also made it difficult to plan for tourism due to its worldwide proliferation and the dramatic evolutionary changes that have affected many aboriginal societies (Gunn and Var 2002). Strategic tourism planning is therefore viewed to provide the appropriate strategic techniques that will be used to deal with the emerging trends and changes in the economic, political, social and cultural environment (Edgell et al 2008).
Strategic planning is important in tourism planning as it ensures appropriate decisions and strategies have been developed to deal with the dynamic and uncertain nature of tourism. Poor tourism planning in the past has led to negative images of various tourist destinations around the world which has led to revenue and profit losses. Failure to plan has also led to the degradation of natural tourist destinations that have been affected by climatic changes and continued pollution of the environment by green house gas emissions. The purpose of strategic tourism planning will therefore be to reduce the negative impacts that are caused by tourism and tourism related activities. Strategic planning will therefore involve identifying the positive and negative effects on tourism (Hall and Page 2006).
Ruhanen (2010) notes that preparation for tourism is critical in offsetting some of the off-putting impacts that are caused by tourists and tourism activities. The sustainability approach to tourism planning has been identified as an important technique in planning for tourism activities as it incorporates stakeholder participation and strategic orientation in the tourism planning process.
Burkardt (2005) notes that there is no particular strategic model that can be used in tourism planning as the different sectors that manage the tourism sector have different management structures. The tourism sector in most countries is usually managed by either the governmental or non governmental organizations as well as the private and corporate enterprises.
Each of these sectors has their own organizational structures which therefore makes it difficult to formulate one single tourism strategic plan. However all these sectors have to follow the five approaches that are used in tourism planning when they develop their strategic plans.
These five approaches include the economic planning approach, the physical/spatial approach, the community orientated approach, and boosterism and sustainable tourism .These five approaches have been viewed to be important when it comes to investigating the different ways that strategic tourism can be planned (Burkardt 2005).
Boosterism is not considered to be planning method since it has an underlying assumption that states when tourism is good, the affected industries such as the hotels and travel companies will automatically benefit from the high tourism rates. The main strategy that underlies boosterism is to develop tourism as long as the necessary resources needed for tourism are properly exploited.
Such resources include labour, natural resources such as land, coastal areas, and the natural environment. The sectors that are mostly involved in boosterism include local, regional and international governments as well as corporations that gain financially from an increase in tourism activities.
The economic planning approach to tourism is mostly focused on boosting the economy of the area that practices tourism without utilising the area’s resources. The primary goal of economic planning is to create employment for people as well as earn foreign income from international visitors.
The approach also encourages regional development and also balances the regional economic inequalities that might exist in that area. The main assumption that underlies the economic planning approach is that tourism is equal in all sectors (Burkardt 2005).
The physical or spatial approach views tourism as a resource user and earner. The aim of this tourism planning approach is to improve the development of tourism activities that fall in the natural category under an ecological basis thereby reducing the negative impacts of environmental degradation.
Some of the approaches that have been used in spatial planning include managing tourist flows, managing environmental flows and also managing the carrying capacity of each visitor to a particular tourism destination (Burkardt 2005). The community approach of tourism planning involves considering the local control of tourism and development activities in a particular region.
This form of planning is a type of bottom up plan since the inhabitants of the tourism area are the focus of the planning process instead of the tourists. The sustainable tourism planning approach involves integrating the economic, environmental and socio-cultural values of a particular place such as New Zealand into the tourism planning process with the main goal of meeting the local population’s needs (Burkardt 2005).
Methodology for Strategic Tourism Planning
The objective of this essay is to assess the relevant theory and practices of strategic planning when developing a tourism report. The goals of any strategic tourism planning activity are usually to meet the needs of tourists, promote tourism in the local country while protecting the natural resources, consolidating tourism growth in certain locations, promoting convenient links in accommodation and transportation, minimising the potential impacts to the local population that might be caused by tourism activities, and ensuring that the resources and tourist locations are utilised for their intended purpose.
These goals are broad and can be applied to various government and non government agencies that are concerned with tourism (Murphy and Murphy 2004).
The methodology that will be used in this essay is secondary data which will involve analysing various academic sources such as journals, books, articles and websites that contain information on the topic under study. Secondary data is useful as it saves time and money that would have been spent conducting primary research. Secondary data is usually conducted by carrying out qualitative and quantitative research depending on the type of data to be collected.
Secondary data will be collected with regards to the research topic which in this case is to assess the theory and practice of strategic planning for tourism report in New Zealand. Data collection will involve looking for information that is related to tourism planning in New Zealand by looking at how the topic has been addressed in the relevant literature.
Secondary data related to tourism in New Zealand will also be collected and analyzed with particular focus on the country’s economy, the tourism expenditure and the tourist flows of the country.
The method that is chosen by the researcher should depend on the type of data that has been collected. Since the data collected in this essay is qualitative in nature, the methods of data analysis that will be used involve conducting a content analysis and constant comparison of the secondary data that has been collected.
The constant comparison technique which is also know as the grounded theory analysis involves comparing the information collected from the various sources of information to highlight any consistencies that exist in the research topic.
This method of data analysis involves comparing what different authors have noted about strategic planning for tourism in New Zealand. The content method of data analysis will involve looking at information contained in the secondary sources with relation to the meaning and definition of strategic planning in tourism for New Zealand (Ratcliff 2010).
Data Analysis and Findings for Strategic Tourism Planning in New Zealand
A constant comparison analysis was conducted on the work of Gunn and Var (2002) and Mason (2004) who highlighted that strategic planning for tourism was not as obvious or necessary as other developmental concerns. Mason (2004) who dealt with tourism planning in New Zealand highlighted that strategic planning activities for leisure activities in the country were mostly associated with the provision of sport and recreational facilities such as pools, stadiums and playing fields.
While the local New Zealand government allocated a lot of money to manage these recreational facilities, a small amount has been invested in strategic tourism planning. This resulted in the adhoc planning for tourism activities in the country. Strategic tourism planning in New Zealand is therefore an activity that is conducted retrospectively rather than proactively. Tourism in the country is identified as an activity that requires promotion or advertising campaigns instead of strategic planning (Mason 2004).
The key piece of legislation that is used in tourism planning in New Zealand is referred to as the Resource Management Act which provides a legislative framework that is used in planning for land, water, pollution and air resources in New Zealand.
The point of the law known as the Resource Act is to advance sustainable organization within the country while at the same time promoting and protecting the social, economic and political well being of New Zealand inhabitants.
The Resource Management Board works in conjunction with the New Zealand Tourism Board to promote tourism activities within the country and the international market. The Resource Management Act encourages focusing on individual project impacts which has lead to tourism planning taking place on a required basis (Connell et al 2009).
A content analysis of Hall (2008) showed that many investors and governmental agencies around the world were focused on developing new tourism areas without necessarily conducting strategic planning activities.
A content analysis of Veal (2002) revealed that strategic planning in tourism was meant to achieve the goals and objectives that had been set out to manage tourism in a particular area. Veal described strategic planning as the initial process of preparing a program/plan that has a direction. The analysis showed that strategic planning was an unavoidable activity in managing public leisure and tourism.
A constant comparison data analysis on the work of Edgell et al (2008) and Goeldner and Ritchie (2006) showed that tourism planning was meant to integrate the economic, political, cultural, ecological and social changes that took place in the environment with the lifestyles of individual people, tourism destinations and countries that have tourism activities.
The integration of environmental and lifestyle issues was also meant to improve the global quality of life and maintain the natural, ecological resources around the world. Edgell et al (2008) noted that “the political facets of tourism have been interconnected with the fiscal results of tourism meaning that tourism is not only a continuation of politics but an integral component of the political wealth”.
Goeldner and Ritchie (2006) noted that the tourism industry is constantly faced with difficult challenges such as terrorism, political instabilities, economic fluctuations, financial recessions, and technological innovations that have heavily affected the tourism industry. The responsible sectors and government agencies should therefore develop the appropriate policies and plans that will be used to deal with these challenges and disruptions to the tourism industry.
Goeldner and Ritchie (2006) also noted that tourism planning is important as it ensures that tourists to the country are hosted in a way that will ensure the maximization of investor and stakeholder benefits while at the same time minimizing the negative effects of tourism. The negative effects are in the form of expenses, costs and the impacts that result from negative tourism activities.
A content analysis into the work of Jones et al (2003) who wrote on emerging tourism planning processes and practices in New Zealand showed that while there were many public and private stakeholders that have invested in tourism within the country, strategic planning and planning in general had mostly been characterised to be adhoc and reactive in nature.
Tourism plans were usually developed to react to situations that arose on a case by case basis. The authors also noted that the local government in New Zealand had failed to appropriately plan for tourism activities in the country which had led to a lot of criticism on their lack of response and proactiveness. A content analysis of Hughey and Ward (2002) highlighted the role of New Zealand’s local government in relation to the tourism industry.
The local governments in New Zealand are known as territorial local authorities (TLA) which are seen to have the most significant and important influence on tourism activities in the country. The roles that these governments play in New Zealand tourism are divided into two groups which are the enablement and management of tourism. Enablement involves tourism activities that are aimed at advancing the economic development of the area.
Such activities according to the government of New Zealand are the support of marketing campaigns to promote tourism, research and training on tourism and the organizing of events or festivals that are meant to promote tourism in New Zealand. The management activities as identified by the content analysis of Hughey and Ward (2002) involve controlling the adverse effects tourism activities have on the social, ecological and cultural environments in New Zealand.
The management activities that the local government performs to control tourism and its effects include the regulation of tourism developmental activities by establishing rules and guidelines for safety, the development of plans to be used in maintaining infrastructure within the country and the monitoring of tourism trends and changes in the global world.
A content analysis on Statistics New Zealand (2010) was meant to highlight the role tourism plays in New Zealand by presenting information on how tourist activities have contributed to New Zealand’s economy with regards to expenditure and employment. The analysis involved assessing the changing levels of tourist activity in the country regardless of whether any strategic planning has been incorporated or not.
The content analysis showed that tourism played an important role in New Zealand’s economy in relation to the production of goods and services as well as in the creation of employment. The expenditure generated from tourism activities includes all expenses incurred by international, domestic and government travellers. The table and graph below shows the tourism expenditure for the year ended March 2000 – 2010.
|Direct Tourism Value Added |
|Indirect tourism Value Added |
|Goods Bought by Tourists |
|GST Paid on Purchases |
|Total tourism Expenditure |
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2010) Tourism Satellite Account
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2010) Tourism Satellite Account
The graph below shows the tourism expenditure according to the type of tourists that were in New Zealand from the year ended March 2000 – 2010
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2010) Tourism Satellite Account
A content analysis of Hall and Page (2006) in relation to tourist flows in New Zealand showed that New Zealand citizens made 16.6 million trips in 1999 which amounted to a domestic expenditure of $ 4.1 billion New Zealand dollars.
This amount equals that of international tourists which shows that the domestic tourists provide an important base for the country’s tourism infrastructure. Hall and Page note that these figures are derived from a 1999 research that was conducted to determine the economic impact of domestic tourism in New Zealand.
SWOT Analysis of Tourism Planning in New Zealand
A SWOT analysis of tourist and tourism planning activities in New Zealand has highlighted the following strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.
Strengths: The country experiences good weather as it lies 47 degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. The moderate maritime climatic conditions allow for tourism activities such as bungee jumping, deep sea fishing and sky diving throughout the year (New Zealand tourism guide 2010).
Tourism planning in the country has contributed to the management of tourism activities in New Zealand. The country also has a resourceful and entrepreneurial population who have initiated various tourist activities and destinations to increase tourism within the country such as the introduction of ecotourism and the construction of a bicycle track that is meant to increase tourism in the region (OECD 2007). The terrain in New Zealand is also suitable for adventure activities such as nature walking and hiking.
Weaknesses: The weakness of tourism and tourism planning in the country is that planning activities are only conducted when a need for strategic planning in tourism arises. The growing number of tourist visitors in the country has led to overcrowding of popular tourist destinations, centres and towns which has in turn led to the degradation of the ecological systems that exist in these areas.
There is also a lack of adequate infrastructural support to be used in managing resources such as water, land and waste disposal. The large numbers of visitors have also put a strain on the allowed carrying capacity of tourist destinations in New Zealand. The country’s economy is also small when compared to the economies of other countries around the world. There are also barriers to the growth of small firms that deal with tourism and tourism related activities.
Opportunities: The tourism opportunities that are available in New Zealand include the growing interest in the country as a popular tourist destination by various countries around the world such as Europe, the Middle East, Australia, South and Northern America, and Asia. The highest number of tourist arrivals into the country was recorded from United Kingdom, Japan, China and the United States. Ecotourism in the country is gaining popularity with both the domestic and international tourists.
Threats: The threats that are faced by the tourism industry in New Zealand include the growing tourism market in the nearby continents which are Asia and Australia, the marginalisation of New Zealand from the rest of the world, the relatively weak productivity performance of the country that has made it difficult to improve tourism standards in the country and the accelerated outflow of highly qualified professionals to other countries that offer better compensation and benefits (OECD 2007).
New Zealand stakeholders who have an interest in the tourism industry need to realise the importance of strategic planning for tourism activities in the country. As the international visitor numbers continue to grow, government and non governmental agencies managing tourism in New Zealand need to incorporate strategic planning in the coordination of tourism activities.
The local governments in New Zealand need to develop strategic plans that will be used to manage the carrying capacity per host area to ensure there is no devastation of the natural resources.
They should also develop strategic plans that will be used in the maintenance and development of basic infrastructural facilities in the country such as roads, water energy and waste disposal. The New Zealand government should also provide avenues for business opportunities that are related to tourism in New Zealand. Tourist destinations to unexplored areas within New Zealand should also be created to meet the growing demand of international and domestic visitors.
Ecotourism activities in New Zealand need to be developed and promoted to both local and international tourists while at the same time promoting conservation of the environment. The local government could also provide insurance to international tourists especially those that are interested in adventure tourism such as mountain climbing and hiking.
The purpose of the study was to assess the theory and practice of strategic planning in tourism with a particular focus on New Zealand as a tourist destination. The study has shown that strategic planning in tourism is important as it helps the responsible stakeholders to manage tourism resources adequately. The study has also shown that strategic planning is important in dealing with the changing trends in the general economic, technological, political and ecological environment.
The use of strategic plans has been viewed to be important as it ensures that tourism is able to adapt to these changes and challenges. The literature review has identified five approaches that can be used in strategic planning which include the economic planning approach, the physical/spatial approach, the community orientated approach, boosterism and sustainable tourism.
The literature review has highlighted that these five approaches are important when it comes to investigating the different ways that tourism can be planned strategically. The results of the study have shown that strategic planning in New Zealand is a concept that has is not regularly practiced.
The research findings have shown that tourism planning in New Zealand is of an ad hoc and reactive nature. The local governments in New Zealand only develop strategic plans on a need basis. The findings of the research have also identified the role of local governments in tourism activities which have been identified as enablement and management activities.
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