Is an event an attraction? Is something like the Edinburgh Military Tattoo an attraction? Are the Olympics? The varying scopes of attractions.
Attractions can be the prime motivation for travel to a destination. They can be a secondary reason for travel or as a stopover. How many have navigated Route 66 in the US, only to stop over and visit some of the many curiosities along the way.
Time is relative. It can span a good amount or very little. The reasons for any visitation depends on the individual or market segment.
Who owns the attraction? Who is the governing body that manages the attraction? This may dictate prices or fees for entry. What is on offer or not? Will it be profitable or non-profit.
Attractions can be classified as having various degrees of permanency. Are they a permanent fixture in the landscape? Or is it just a building, that the exhibits are the attraction and can be moved from one place to another.
The Olympics and the Military Tattoo have a short duration, and can be moved from one place to another. They are events. Though there is some permanency by fixing it within Edinburgh. The concept of Military Tattoo can exist in other cities, but there is only one Edinburgh (Scotland) Military Tattoo.
But an attraction such as the National Football Hall of Fame has both fixed and movable permanency. The exhibits are the attraction and can be moved if they outgrow their current housing. The building, though a wonderful piece of architecture, is permanent, but can be repurposed if necessary.
So, attractions can be classified by the various degrees or scopes. I have just touched on a few here, and yes, they can be a matrix of complexity.
Complexity in that they can have scopes of permanency, cultural, and type of facilities. That leads into the discussion of how do we measure success. A question for another day.
Tourism and the act of travel has a way of transforming your life. From the moment you are born, your life revolves around change, exposure to new and exciting objects, experiences, and points of reality. Curiosity governs the exploration of babies, toddlers, and young children. As we mature, we develop a more sophisticated decision-making process. This progression through life, this life-span has different stages, and we can inter-relate this progression of aging with the tourism life cycle. Figure 1 represents Plog’s mode of traveler type and destination life cycle.
Basically, as we age, we develop different mentalities that govern our travel choices and behavior. What type of trip we take, when we take it, how take it, where we decide to go, depends on where we are in our lifespan. If you are young, you may or may not have the money to travel to far off places or stay closer to home. You may or may not have the capabilities, the skills, the physical strength to accomplish the activities you decide to undertake. You may or may not have the tools you need to commit to a particular activity or trip. But everything is bright and shiny. The world is your oyster, and the want to consume it, may or may not be significant.
Yet, as we grow older, our desires for the bright and shiny may diminish due to the aging of our physical bodies. Or the needs of our family. Or the requirements of our job. We are governed by a host of external forces that help us define our choices. We may or may not need more services from the tourism system. The umbrella of products that make up a destination tourism product line. Maybe safety and security are an issue, and we want to travel with groups of people that have the same hobbies and interests. We all have different wants and needs, and this will govern choice. Those needs and wants change over the course of our lifetimes.
From infancy to the first maturity point, where we come of age and make our own initial decisions, we are governed by the choices made by our parents. Usually, those choices are contingent upon the wants of children or what the parents may find interesting for the children. Every generation is different.
On vacation with cousin
(2018) On the train to St. Andrews
The three siblings in Chicago
Second trip to Scotland
Mom and Dad just after marriage
Time with Mom at Williamsburg
As teenagers, visiting Walt Disney World while visiting Florida so brother can look at Universities
Fast forward another visit to Chicago with Aunt
From my own experience as a child, our travel behavior depended upon the time my parents could take off from teaching responsibilities as well as disposable income. It wasn’t much. Usually, it involved one big trip every few years. Most of the vacations centered around visiting family or friends, and then side trips to local attractions. So, choices depend on what you need, what you want, what you have, and what you don’t have. And are still shaped by internal and external forces.
These choices change over the course of your lifetime. Options you can and cannot control. At that first maturity point, as a tourist, everything is new. You may want the unexplored, the far distant places, but you are still governed by internal and external forces. Your parents, the state of world affairs, economic vitality–resources that you have and don’t have.
Travel during your life will open many doors not only to the world around you but within yourself. You change with each passage out into a new and exciting place. You shift from a limited awareness to greater awareness with each interaction. You progress to different maturity points and understanding of who you are as a person as well as the world in which we live. You gain resources (information, economic freedom, and promises from the tourism business environment) that can alter your travel your choices. Travel changes you both internally and externally. Embrace that change.
Know your limits, listen to your inner voice and what is going on around you. Strengthen your intuition and be open to learning.
Next week I start my first module here in Scotland, Principles of Tourism. It is an introductory course about the industry. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the scope and breadth of tourism, what it means to be a tourist, to travel, to be an active participant in the process, and the impact it has on so many lives.
One of our first activities and assignments will be to develop a definition of tourism. After completing the mechanics of the course, I will have the students sit and ponder their lives, who they are, what they like, dislike, what they want–basically, develop a short bio. Then we will progress into what it meant to travel with their families or friends, or by themselves. Again, asking a host of questions to get to the heart of how they envision travel, view the world, and tourism.
They will develop their own definition and then we will compare them in class with others, to tease out a formal definition. Then the fun begins. Well, I think it is fun. We will acquire the official definition and do some more analyzing to see how close they came or if they can argue for a better definition. Considering the official definition was designed a few decades ago, are there any generational differences or does the official definition stand up to scrutiny?
The inevitable question that is posed to me, and has been in the past, is what I think since I’m the professor. This is good. This is a start to asking for other viewpoints, opening your mind up to different perspectives. This opens a door. And I tell them, look, I’m just another viewpoint, consider all and then find more. Don’t just end the investigation with me. I may be one authority, but I’m certainly not the only person. Go further, and farther in that research. So back to my point. We are on the path to reflective practice. Something very valuable for my students.
At the end of the first day, we should have several concepts hashed out. Then I want them to get out there and observe, go see the concepts in actions. I want them to be creative, use the tools at their disposable to record and gain understanding. Can they see the elements of the definition in action, and how they change our actions? How our decisions are affected and effected by our choices? Can they make the connections between the definition and everyday decision-making? So many questions to ask and answered, which then leads to even more questions.
Criteria are developed from their ten identifiers:
The 10 As of Successful Tourism Destinations (Morrison, 2013)
o Awareness: Related to tourists’ level of knowledge about the destination and is influenced by the amount and nature of the information they receive.
o Attractiveness: Number and geographic scope of appeal of the destination’s attractions comprise this attribute.
o Availability: Determined by the ease with which bookings and reservations can be made for the destination, and the number of booking and reservation channels available.
o Access: Convenience of getting to and from the destination, as well as moving around within the destination.
o Appearance: Measures the impressions that the destination makes on tourists, both when they first arrive and then throughout their stays in the destination.
o Activities: Extent of the array of activities available to tourists within the destination.
o Assurance: The safety and security of the destination for tourists.
o Appreciation: The feeling of the levels of welcome and hospitality.
o Action: The availability of a long-term tourism plan and a marketing plan for tourism are some of the required actions.
o Accountability: The evaluation of performance by the destination management organization (DMO).
They need to identify their criteria, state the definition by Morrison, and then interpret what that means. Then derive variables, statements or questions from their research information about that criteria. For instance, Attractiveness stipulates an appeal. Appeal means you like something. You found something agreeable. We settled on a definition and interpretation. And so I posed several questions. Why do tourist like a destination or attraction? We worked through this criteria in class as an example and utilized Disney. Since most had visited Disney World in Florida, I asked them, as tourist, what did you like about Disney? We gained a lot of different answers–location, climate, nice employees, variety of attractions, etc. I asked what didn’t you like about Disney? A few more questions were asked, and we teased out a host of verbs and adjectives.
Those verbs and adjectives become the variables that describe the criteria. One student came after class to discuss it further and I rather liked how she constructed statements and questions surrounding those variables. One that stood out was: “Does this attraction leave a lasting impression?” As part of the project they need to articulate these variables, and what they mean from their point of view. I don’t have insight into their thoughts without it. My crystal ball is broken and I can’t read their minds. I asked her what do you mean by impression. Fifteen minutes later she had a good handle on what she meant. And we were able to find more information for her to digest, namely visitor surveys and other statistical information already published about the attraction.
Within tourism, people travel to destinations because there is something to see or do. Therefore, success hinges on the developing worthwhile attractions. Something that will attract tourist time and time again. Hence, why Disney is so successful. They are constantly changing, updating to trends and taste, to their movies and interests.
So the first week of the Spring semester has come and gone. We have skimmed the upper ice berg of the definition of tourism, and now diving below the waterline to see all the complexity associated with that definition. Today, my 8am class (I know, ugh 8am), was awake and raring to go. I had taken the time to map out some of the concepts we had been talking about, and diagram out the pieces we needed to start to examine before they arrived.
I posted the tourism umbrella, leading to the three environments in which resources, tangible, intangible are drawn from. From those three environments we also derive our stakeholders, guests, host community, employees, governments, investors, and other. These stakeholders have a vested interest in our industry, even if they are arm-chair travelers. In today’s globalized knowledge economy, our industry has three drivers, information, money, and promises.