Principles of integrated tourism planning (Part Two)

The set of principles presented here are to be considered bearing in mind that the integration of planning at all levels and across all levels is essential. Such a principle needs constant repetition and should be incorporated into all negotiations on tourism planning and development.

The principles considered are not of equal weight and significance. However, they represent the types of principles appropriate to a master plan which is both comprehensive and integrated. In particular, the pursuit of integration will ensure the desired outcome of all of its forms – economic, environmental, spatial, management, social, cultural, technological and political – are explicitly incorporated into a decision-making framework and open to participation by stakeholders appropriate to each decision.

Basic Principles

A number of universal principles can be identified. These principles are as follows:

  • A tourism master plan should be prepared to provide direction, provide a framework for development and operation, achieve integration of the various complementary factors involved in tourism development, and set targets for achievement.
  • Tourism should be sustainable
  • Long range planning and ‘public interest’ planning should be paramount
  • Tourism should reflect and enhance the special qualities and characteristics of the communities and the destination, the special nature of attractive places should be maintained, and planning and design should reflect the special characteristic of the places.
  • Tourism planning should respond appropriately either to the mass tourism market or to the particular requirements of the special interest market.
  • Tourism development should be pursued to contribute positively to the general economic, environmental, social and cultural improvement of the nation as a whole, of particular destinations, or at particular sites
  • Tourism development should accommodate the principles of land stewardship maintained by traditional land owners.
  • The master plan should respond to the need to be competitive in the region and to accommodate competition between destinations within the nation (alternatively, in the case of the commitment to tourism development within the confines of the nation’s boundaries, the plan should seek complementarity between destinations within the nation).
  • Tourism development at all levels (national, regional, destination, development corridor, site) should be integrated and coordinated spatially, temporally, economically.
  • Tourism development and activity should be symbiotic with the natural environment, communities and indigenous culture.

Principles of Emphasis and Focus

In addition to the basic principles of good practice listed previously, master plans (in order to achieve a special identity and competitive advantage) should incorporate the following principles:

  • Tourism achieves its level of highest efficiency if all the components of supply are brought within the scope of the tourism plan.
  • The tourism plan should reflect diversity of tourism experience opportunities by incorporating urban tourism attractions, facilities, services, and amenities
    • similar features for non-urban areas
    • integrated resort developments
    • isolated attractions
    • natural and cultural environment features.
  • The approach to the development of the basic vision for tourism development should be responsive to changes in market demand by adopting a flexible conceptual paradigm and organisational framework.
  • The design criteria used, especially at the scales of the destination and of site development, must be responsive to
    • authenticity
    • site and location appropriateness
    • requirements of land-use association and compatibility
    • needs of users
    • creativity
    • market demands
  • An attempt should be made to maintain low levels of impact, especially in respect of
    • access to natural, cultural and heritage attractions
    • interaction of visitors with traditional settlements and sites
    • the adoption of low-impact technology
  • The adoption of the principle of low-impact need not mean low economic benefit
  • Where special features or attractions exist they should become the foundation for niche market tourism as ‘unique selling points’.

Principles of Implementation

In order for development to take place, the principles of intent and vision and focus, need to be supported by principles of implementation. If this set of principles is neglected:

  • development may not take place
  • integration, of any kind, may not be achieved
  • uncontrolled tourism activity may cause degradation of the resources which originally attracted tourism
  • performance (in terms of economic benefit) may become sub-optimal
  • competitive advantage may be lost
  • community involvement may be by-passed.

The basic principles of implementation are as follows:

  • The tourism product available is dependent upon foresight, guidance and organisation of leadership at each level of decision-making.
  • The formulation of the tourism master plan is the outcome of an appropriate planning process.
  • The proposals for tourism development and activity are constituent elements of the national/ regional/local strategy to achieve improved levels of welfare and resource use.
  • The tourism strategy is responsive to entrepreneurial initiative and partnerships involving private enterprise – corporate or individual, traditional communities, and the government.
  • The various sectors of decision-making (corporate, individual, traditional, and governmental) operate in a negotiated framework.
  • Tourism development takes place within a basic framework of appropriate form and structure, infrastructure, and complementarity.

In order for tourism activities to take place at all, and certainly to be sustained, important principles of implementation include the following:

  • The government should introduce appropriate mechanisms, including legislation, regulation, facilitation, incentive and promotion.
  • The government and private enterprise should ensure that suitable opportunities for education and training accompany any growth of tourism activity.

Concluding Comments

The important characteristics of integrated tourism planning should include:

  • a decision-making structure designed to link tourism with other sectors of economic and infrastructure development
  • an approach which is strategic and goal-oriented rather than being re-active and preventative
  • a structure which can accommodate inputs and influences from the tourism industry, other sectors of government, and the affected community
  • a process which is purposive and deliberate, but which is also flexible to adjust to changing circumstances
  • a process which is guided by principles of good management.

Lorton Consulting has extensive experience in Tourism Planning. Contact us to find out how we can assist with your tourism planning needs.


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