Human species are curious concerning the planet we are

Human species are curious concerning the
planet we are living in. We are keen to know how other places outside our
current living circles look like, and what the culture, people, food and
animals might look like there (Goeldner,
Ritchie, & McIntosh, 2000, p. 6). With the influence
of mass media and the Internet, people have obtained a good awareness of the
world which boots the development of travelling. Various studies (Hall, 2000)
(Mason & Dawsonera, 2016) (Reid, 2003) (Inskeep,
1991)
have illustrated the socioeconomically benefit from tourism are powerful,
however we cannot forget that tourism is not with its drawbacks. For example
overdevelopment of an area might result in soil and water pollution issues over
time; having the number of visitors beyond the capacity of the destination
might results in traffic congestion, inadequate parking or hotel dwarfing which
leads to the degradation of the quality of life of local people (Goeldner, Ritchie, & McIntosh, 2000, pp.
366-367).

 

A tourism
planning is essential to maximize the benefits of tourism and prevent any
potential problems (Dredge & Jenkins, Tourism
Planning and Policy, 2007). In the increasingly
competitive tourism industry, it is the best planned tourism developments that
are likely to become the most successful tourist destination which providing
good visitor satisfaction levels and generate benefits to the local economy and
communities (Inskeep, 1991, pp. 26-27). To study tourism
and planning helps not only how we understand it but also how we analyse and
govern it (e.g. help to answer question such as how policy will be developed
for successful tourism plans?). Hall (2000) defines planning as a kind of
decision making and policy making process. Dredge
& Jenkins( 2011) explained planning is intimately rated to policy
and it goes hand in hand with the choice of research approaches and methods
used. In addition, the planner should be selective on what information to
include and not include.

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As tourism
planning process might be conducted by governments or/and by private sectors,
there will is no single theory of ‘best practice’ (Tosun & Jemkins, 1998). Contemporary
tourism planning approaches emphasis on social, environmental and community
aspects. The aim of this essay is to evaluate and investigate the importance of
tourism planning in the practical world. An existing tourism plan (Jamaica
Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development) has been selected as the case
reference in order to illustrating theories against real-life cases. I will compare
and discuss the Jamaica Plan using Inskeep’s model of tourism planning process
with the idea of how the actual planning process was conducted. Inskeep (1991)
argues the planning process can be conducted in various ways, but the
conceptual process stays the same. The tourism planning steps are shown as
below in a logical sequence. There is not possible to cover all topics and
considerations discussed in the whole Jamaica’s tourism plan in this essay, so
only the typical cases were selected to compare the theories. The list of
content of the Jamaica’s Master Plan is attached on appendix, the website link
to the full report can be found on the reference lists (Commonwealth
Secretariat, 2002).

Study Preparation

The
starting stage of tourism planning is to make decision to proceed with the
study. A brainstorm on what are the scale, market, and purpose of the study.
Also, planner set the terms of reference, time scale and deciding on the agency
taking the lead (Inskeep, 1991, p. 28). Chapter 1 of the
Jamaica Plan follows the study preparation step in order to have a clear
picture on the expected results and outputs.

 

Section 1.1
Purpose of the Master Plan listed the
3 main aims of the plan – 1) to provide a comprehensive planning framework for
the development of tourism industry, 2) to elaborate a vision of the future
direction, 3) requirements to bring the vision to fruition. It also explained
the responsible parties for designing the process – the Ministry of Tourism and
Sports (MOTS) who performed a preliminary study of the Jamaica Tourism Industry
(Diagnostic & Strategy process). Section 1.2 Role of the Plan sets the time frame of the tourism plan to be a
10-year plan to cover the period 2000-2010. This is essential as a clear
understanding of the time frame must be obtained before any realistic goals and
targets can be designed.

 

Determination of Objectives

The second
step is to determine objectives in its preliminary forms subject to changes in
the later stage (Hall, 2000). Since objectives
are basic determinants of the tourism policy and plan, the objectives must be comprehensive
and precise; it has to be actively modified based on feedback and information
collected later. Careful consideration is required in deciding objectives as
this is a usually a political issue often involving selecting between competing
priories e.g. economic growth vs protecting the environment (Evans,
Campbell, & Stonehouse, 2003).

 

Chapter 2 Strategic Vision pointed out the main target of the Master Plan is
to place the Jamaican tourism industry on a path of sustainable development. The
decision of going for sustainable development was made after the
Diagnostic& Strategic Options Report which argues that the current Jamaica tourist
industry is unstainable based on 5 key findings a) a decreasing rate of growth,
b) the competitive advantage of the industry is eroded, c) the visitor
experience outside hotel is poor, d) environment degradation, and e) Jamaican
people do not feel the tourist industry will benefit them. The planners looked
inside the existing tourism industry and compared it with contemporary
definition of sustainable tourism in order to identify the problems and figure
out the type of tourism that suits Jamaica better. Graci & Dodds (2010) and Mowforth & Munt (2008) conclued that the
key for sustainable tourism in island destinations is to explore how tourism
invenstiments and environemments and living qualities can ensure a profitable
tourism in the long term.

 

After these key issues were
identified, the plan introduced 3 preliminary objectives: accelerating growth,
enhancing visitor experience and achieving suitability. The planners then
discuss these wider topics with all stakeholders (representatives of communities,
national policy makers, the industry and the tourism agencies). The objectives
were finalized into 5 areas: Growth based on a sustainable market position,
enhancing the visitor experience, Community based development, an inclusive
industry and Environmental sustainability. Section 2.4 sets the growth rate
target for 2010 that is to achieve annual growth of visitor arrivals rate of
5.5%. The feasibility of the growth targets were discussed subsequently, the
planners justify these targets are realistic yet challenging by referencing
figures from other tourist destinations. Section 2.5 then introduced the
attitude required towards tourism industry from the perspectives of both
Jamaican people and policy makers.

 

Survey of All Elements

This step
of tourism planning can be considered as a research phase which involves fact
finding and data collecting that are essential to develop the plan. To be more
specific, planner conducts surveys into the current and future situations and
characteristics of the targeted tourism destination (Dredge &
Jenkins, Tourism Planning and Policy, 2007).

 

Having the
objectives of the Master Plan identified, Chapter 3 Marketing Strategy investigate into the marketing strategy/targets
required to help accelerate the tourism growth rate in Jamaica as a leading
Caribbean destination. It starts with a research of Jamaica’s rank as a major
tourism destination in the Caribbean (figure 1); the report suggests Jamaica is
underperforming the Caribbean over the period of 1990-1998 as the result of not
being able to benefit from the dramatic increase in visitors from Europe. Such
a result was from a combination of lack of tourist resources (e.g. lack of
hotels and no direct flight from big European counties like France) and neglect
on the product orientation of Jamaica in the industry.

 

In
addition, section 3.3 Priority Markets
provides a statistic research in the number of visitors from different
counties. It suggests Untied States is the principal market for Jamaica tourism
as the advantage of Jamaica’s ability to cater for the short, all-inclusive
holidays for winter sunshine that U.S visitors are dreaming about. However,
over-depending on the US market could result in Jamaica’s periodic downturns in
the tourism market. So combining the two key findings above, the planners come
to a target based on practical experience that is to maintain the increasing market
share in the U.S market whilst increase the number of European visitors from
the current 16% to 20%.

 

Analysis and Synthesis

Just like
doing any other research, researchers have to interpret the collected survey
information so that the facts will have meaning. Considerations are given to
relations between elements and to the views of different stakeholders which
will be the basis for the plan formation and recommendations. For instance, to
project transportation & other infrastructure needs, an integrated analysis
of physical/social factors of tourism attractions/carry capacity analysis (Dredge & Jenkins, Tourism Planning and Policy,
2007).
So, it is the critical thinking process that requires careful considerations to
reach a shared view on a preferred future from all stakeholders. This step also
provides a series of conclusions and recommendations that contribute to
conceptualize a preliminary plan (Goeldner, Ritchie, &
McIntosh, 2000).

 

Chapter 4
of Jamaica Master Plan points out the theories required to develop a
competitive tourism industry based on the findings from last step.  The research suggested that the accommodation
sector dominates Jamaica’s tourism industry that it accounts for 60.2% of the
yearly turnover and provided 47.4% of jobs in the industry. Section 4.2 pointed
out that despite having the third large stock of rooms in the Caribbean, room
stock in Jamaica is not increasing at a satisfactory rate. Also, accommodation
is concentrated on the north and north-west coast. What more, the main
structural weakness of Jamaica’s accommodation tourism industry is the lack of
large European Plan (EP) hotels. This is the key issue as it stops Jamaica from
doing business with the large tour operators that dominating the European
markets. Having the key findings clear in mind, the planners start to discuss
and plan targets for the industry and the activities required to achieve them. So
a possible solution is to attract investment in large EP or mixed hotels that
could help Jamaica take initiatives in large tour groups, meetings and
conventions. Such an analysis is crucial not only for guiding determine the
appropriate types and locations for tourism development but its land usage so
that tourism does not causing ecological problems (Bramwell
& Lane, 2000).

 

Policy and Plan Formulation

The plan
formulation is defined as the formation of the policy and physical plan based
on the selected policy direction. A good plan should base on preparations and
evaluations of the alternative policies and plans. Special considerations have
to give to the views of different stakeholders, the proposed objectives should
link to specific and realistic actions and reasonable monitoring methods should
be implemented (Inskeep, 1991, p. 28).

 

Chapter 6
introduced the physical planning step of Jamaica’s sustainable development
plan. The tourism industry’s geographical location places a crucial role as it
has a dramatic influence on the local needs for infrastructure, social services
and transportation. Section 6.2 explained tourism accommodation is currently
concentrated around the 3 main resorts of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios.
Hence the development of new accommodation should be in and around the 3 major
resort centres as the lack of infrastructure such as sewage treatment system at
environmental sensitive areas will destroy the environment and creating social
problems. Considering the size of country and limited remaining natural
reservations, environmental concern is particularly urgent (Agarwal &
Shaw, 2007).
Hence, the development plans were set out to be 1) concentrate new rooms in the
3 main resort centres mentioned above to its maximum level of carrying
capacity, 2) develop the 6 more resorts (Runway bay, Oracabessa, Flamouth,
Kingston, South coast and Portland and St Thomas) that it can provide necessary
commercial, social and physical infrastructure for the need of local residents
and visitors, 3) the main tourism areas will remaining on the country’s north
and north-west coasts, but will open up some attractions in the south coast and
encourage visitors to stay in small hotels and guest houses. By executing the
plan, the total numbers of hotel room in the ten-year period is expected to be
increase by 11360. Moreover, the physical planning process must include the
political issues. In this case, the plan has pointed out the need for consulting
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all major developments in Jamaica.

Figure
2 The Resort Areas of Jamaica (Commonwealth
Secretariat, 2002, p. 131)

 

Implementation and Monitoring

A plan will
stay on the paper if it cannot be implemented; hence the final step of the
tourism planning is to apply the recommendations, techniques that have been
identified in the plan. Unlike the Inskeep’s planning sequence, the cost of
planning and timeline of the plan were not included in chapter 6 of Jamaica’s
Master Plan but in the Action Plan section (Chapter 8). The benefit of that is
the action plan can be presented in a more comprehensive way. A summarised
actions and initiates were provided which not only listing the sequence of
activities but the responsible parties for each activity and its costs (figure
3 & 4).  

 

 

Section 8.2
discussed the starting point of plan implementation is to present and discuss
the plan with the stakeholders. It then explains the agencies involved in the
industry, provides an insight into the sources of public funds and costs and
profit of the total investment. In addition, it examines the plan’s effect on
GDP, foreign exchange and local employment.

 

It is
important to be able to continuous monitoring and feedback on the plan’s
strategies and implementation with all the necessary modifications (Inskeep,
1991, pp. 54-55).
Monitoring of an implemented plan involves undertaking regular measurements of
one or more observations in order to track their change over time. Such a
monitoring process requires some specific indicators which need to be simple to
measure. For sustainable tourism, the indications are required to measure
complex economic, environmental and social impacts (Miller &
Twitning-Ward, 2005). In section 8.2.2 of Jamaica’s Master
Plan, a number of milestones in the time sequence were provided to be the
indicator of the monitoring process. However, this is insufficient as the
milestones can only provide information on when the recommendations were implemented;
it does not measure and evaluate the level of consumer satisfaction achieved.

 

Conclusion

In this
essay, the Jamaica’s Master Plan were evaluated and compared against Inskeep’s
model of tourism planning process. Generally speaking, the Jamaica plan follows
the conceptual process of tourism planning process; particularly the survey,
analysis and plan formulation steps. The fundamental objective of boosting the
development of tourism industry was put forward, and then the planner
researched into the existing markets and invested the main reasons why the industry
is underperforming – the lack of resources and infrastructure to attract
European visitors. As Agarwal and Shaw (2007) pointed out in their study that
it is usually helpful to consider growth management of coastal resorts in their
reginal context due to the spatial spread of resort impacts. The following
analysis and plan formulation were carried specifically to solve these
identified problems and maintain a sustainable development concurrently i.e. the
implementation of resort resources. However, good planning provides approaches that
enable periodic review-feedback -adjustment cycles which was not fully considered
in Jamaica’s plan.

 

Jamaica’s
master plan is successful in terms of having able to indicate the economic,
socio-cultural and environmental impacts in its single and combined forms. Comprehensive
considerations have been given to shape a healthy growing tourist business and
protect and enhances the environment and local communities. Yet, a plan that
cannot be monitored and improved overtime cannot be considered as a good plan.
Hence specific indicators are required to monitoring, learning and fine-tuning
the process over time.