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The complexity of tourism – and what to do about it

Tourism is actually not defined as an industry, but an activity. This activity may best be conceived of as an interrelated system, understood as an assemblage of combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary role.
If you want to know more about this complexity read the article ‘Tourism: An Overview of the Tourism System’ (1994) Holloway, C.

Although tourism is not an industry, tourism does incorporate a variety of different types of tourism businesses and other organizations. According to the above mentioned article these players can be divided into sectors and include:

• Accommodations, food service, and retailing sector: Restaurants and food services of various types, hotels, resorts, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, farmhouses, apartments, villas, flats, condominiums and timesharing, vacation villages, conference center resorts, marinas, ecolodges and other specialist accommodations, shops of various types including duty free.
• Association sector: International, regional, national, and state trade and travel associations.
• Attractions and events sector: Theme parks, museums, national parks, wildlife parks, gardens, heritage sites, festivals and events.
• Convention and exhibition sector: Convention and exhibition centers, congress centers, auditoriums.
• Destination marketing sector: National tourist offices, state, provincial and territorial tourist offices, regional travel or tourism organizations, convention and visitors bureaus, local tourist authorities, tourism associations.
• Miscellaneous sector: Recreational facility operators, providers of travelers checks and insurance, tourism educators, travel writers, publishers of travel guides and books, and other businesses that serve travelers’ needs.
• Regulatory and coordinating sector: Government agencies and non-governmental organizations that regulate and coordinate different aspects of tourism, e.g., World Tourism Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization.
• Transportation carrier sector: Airlines, shipping lines, ferry services, railways, bus and motor coach operators, car rental operators.
• Travel trade intermediary sector: Tour operators and wholesalers, retail travel agents, convention/ meeting planners, corporate travel departments, incentive travel planners, and consolidators.

As a direct consequence of the complex nature of tourism there are so many issues that single tourism players cannot overcome themselves. In my report Introduction to the tourism industry in Bangladesh (2008) The Royal Danish Embassy I expressed my concern on the lack of organized destination development in the Bangladeshi tourism sector:

The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has been left to the local market forces.
The Bangladeshi government and private tourist sector are represented by organizations, nevertheless co-operation, strategies and policies aiming at developing a prosperous and sustainable tourist industry are rear – and not always implemented if they exist.

In my point of view a crucial action to any player in the tourism sector is networking in order to get individual success and to obtain economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainable destination development.

Networking is not about making a ‘quick sale’ but about helping others who, in turn, will help you. In other words networking is about sharing information, making recommendations and building trust.
If you are interested in improving your networking skills follow the links of the following articles:
How to network effectively
Catch More Clients Using Strategic Networking
Business Networking for Entrepreneurs
How to Network As a Business Owner

Casual networking in the tourism industry might have the objective to share business, contacts, views, news and knowledge. A more organized or structured network can focus on complex challenges like gathering marketing knowledge, developing new products, influence national policy or coordinate destination development. The structured tourism networks often connect a specific business line (e.g. tour operators or hotels), a geographic area (e.g. South Asia, Bangladesh or Teknaf) or a complex common goal (e.g. sustainable development or destination marketing).

I can highly recommend to use LinkedIn, an online interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.
LinkedIn now have over 39 million members, each with their personal informative profile. At the moment, May 2009, over 86.000 LinkedIn members are related to the tourism sector and more than 10.000 members are in one way or the other linked to Bangladesh.
It is also important to mention that LinkedIn members can join a number of professional groups, at the moment there are 495 international tourism groups and 116 Bangladeshi groups.

The LinkedIn group ‘Views On Tourism – Bangladeshi network and discussion’ was launched summer 2009 as a national and international network and discussion forum for the Bangladeshi tourism sector and people interested in this topic.
Read more about the Views On Tourism network group in this introduction article or become a group member here.

This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Bangladesh, Cooperation and network, IT, Sustainability.


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