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- 16 Nov 2011
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If Small is Beautiful.....Exclusive beats it

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Popular tourist spot Majorca, a prime example of a destination able to cater to both mass-tourism sites and highly exclusive secluded locations


Alvaro Hidalgo, managing partner at First Logic, discusses the evolution of luxury tourism and explains why the most exclusive destinations are the most sustainable.

If the origin of mass international tourism can be placed in the 60s, one can situate the explosion of new destinations in the 80s, a moment in which major changes in the airline industry enabled access to new international and transcontinental locations at reasonable prices. New destinations subsequently mushroomed, and the main focus of Destination Manager Organisations (DMO) was to increase the number of visitors as a measure of success.

As a tool to analyze this growth, the well known Tourist Area Life Cycle (TALC) concept was developed by Butler in 1980. Since then it has survived three decades of constant scrutiny and verification studies and it is considered now as a cornerstone in the analysis of tourism destination development and a milestone in Tourism academic literature. Having entered into the second decade of the XXI century, the reactions to the model nowadays are mostly in the line of ok, fine, but what’s news.

Nevertheless, TALC’s graph retains its validity by carrying a good reminder of the existence of – using an aerodynamic term- a “point of separation” beyond which specific measures should be taken to avoid the flow of tourists to become turbulent, resulting in the destination entering in a stall and declining.

Closely linked to the above, the “Carrying Capacity of a Tourist Area" concept started to be shaped. Carrying Capacity is defined by the WTO as “the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors’ satisfaction”.


 Carrying Capacity must not be considered as a number resulting from a formula, but as a constantly ongoing process which overviews the destination 


Maximum carrying capacity overflow

The Carrying Capacity must not be considered as a number resulting from a formula, but as a constantly ongoing process which overviews the destination to ensure that its quality and its capacity to attract tourists is maintained. Indeed, if the first consequence of success is that it makes obsolete the tools and processes followed to attain it, we then need to constantly re-assess –with a fresh view- the new reality that resulted from the previous plans & actions, and make further plans for this new environment.

The concept evolved into the much broader “Sustainable Tourism” term which is now centering efforts of the industry and governments. Resulting from this, DMOs are shifting their emphasis from Destination Marketing -focused just in bringing in more tourism, to a Destination Management perspective centered in enhancing and maintaining the characteristics and attractions that made the destination what it is.


 Majorca and Costa del Sol are good examples of zones hosting both cheap mass-tourism sites and highly exclusive secluded locations 


Some destinations are born to be directed to the mass tourism only, but in many others the geography and/or configuration enables that several poles of attraction with very different characteristics cohabit in a broad Tourist Area. Majorca and Costa del Sol are good examples of zones hosting both cheap mass-tourism sites and highly exclusive secluded locations.

The dilemma that any destination faces in the “point of separation” is therefore the dreaded question….what do we do now? And being clear nowadays that sustainability must rule and lead, then the farsighted Schumacher’s statement “Small is Beautiful” is the automatic answer.


…But as the title of this entry states, “..Exclusivity beats it”.

Indeed, exclusive destinations are sustainable by their own nature and origin, and cannot overgrow beyond a certain point. Apart from some exceptions –there are always exceptions-, most of the exclusive tourism destinations remain as such after 50 or even 100 years of operation.

The price entry barrier not only keeps out most of the problems brought by excessive growth, but it also generates the revenue that will attract the levels of investment needed (i) to keep facilities, attractions and environment in good shape and (ii) to be updated recurrently. If the destination characteristics, configuration and/or name enable it, a destination facing the point of separation should always consider the “road to exclusivity” as the first alternative to be analyzed.

Luxury Brands are not only natural a path to exclusivity, but most importantly, they will shorten the transition time to attain the objective. Indeed, Luxury Brands bring (i) the desired level of exclusivity and therefore sustainability (ii) a major worldwide marketing impact and (iii) a defined solution and a defined project.


 Exclusive destinations are sustainable by their own nature and origin, and cannot overgrow beyond a certain point 


The importance of point (iii) is generally overlooked. Indeed, when a new branded luxury project is announced for a Destination, its effects are apparent immediately. It creates a focal point that will drive its future development changing the investment and economic landscape of the overall destination on the spot.

By concentrating the efforts and resources into one clearly defined direction with an established timeline, the branded development begins to shape the destination and its perception from the day of the signature. And thanks to their versatility, branded projects provide its benefits to most types of destinations, whether it be a new tropical beach & golf resort, a new Marina or an old ski resort seeking rejuvenation.

Luxury Brands are the most direct vehicle to attain exclusivity and as a result, they assure sustainability. But if it is true that the incorporation of any established luxury brand may result in the above benefits, only one can bring Power, Beauty and Soul…. the three qualities that most destinations seek to offer their visitors.


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First Logic was established in 2010 in response to an increased demand for detailed project strategy, design and planning due to greater challenges in the property market.

www.first-logic.com