Reviewing the Role of Tourism Marketing and Sustainable Tourist Destination

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Tourism marketing and Sustainable tourist destination

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Tourism is a significant component of the growing footprint (Truong & Hall, 2016:10), while tourism marketing is the application of marketing concept in travel and tourism industry (Ketter & McMillan, 2016:177) as it uses the four Ps, product, price, place and promotion in advertising tourist destination to consumers. However, tourism marketing to date, is perceived as the enemy of sustainability as it traditionally concentrates on increasing tourist numbers and treating tourism like a commodity (Pomering, Noble & Johnson, 2012:956). Tourism marketing is a cooperate activity as consumers rarely use just “one brand in consuming the overall

tourism experiences” (Liu & Chou, 2016:303).

The literature shows that it is a very important functional area in a tourism business organisation and always uses a wide variety of communications strategies and techniques to promote areas and destinations (Avraham & McMillan, 2016:178). The purpose for tourism marketing is thus to sell the site to a potential customer base (Donohoe, 2012:130), and Tourism marketers themselves ensure that they satisfy the two criteria that customer needs are met and organisational goals are attained. The literature also argues that there is little academic research focusing on the tourism marketing role in facilitating the sustainability of the destination in general (Higham & Moyle, 2016:170). Tourist destination quality is the key to success in tourism development and the role of tourism marketing and management in improving the quality of tourist destination is important to be identified by academic researchers (Lei, Kostopoulou & Huibin, 2014:17).

Tourist destination is regarded as a well-defined “geographical entity under a brand name, mixing of all tourism products, services and environments as an integrated experience which can be understood and identified by consumers” (Hartwel et al., 2016:57). Nevertheless, not

much academic research has been conducted yet in finding out the role of tourism marketing in contributing towards successful and sustainable tourist destinations (Eagle, Hamann & Low, 2016:325-327). Following are some the results of the review.

Starting with Sharpley & Pearce, (2014:567-569), it is argued that there is no specific tourism marketing role specifically for sustainable tourism in English National park destination but sustainable tourism is rather promoted by other organisations. Marketing for them, is only socio-economic although it increases tourism to a destination. Similarly, Mossaz and Coghlam, (2016:8-9) in the role of travel agents in the marketing and sale of sustainable tourism, found that most tourism agents market or sell sustainable tourism in the destination as an effort to get customers and they do not really have any influence in conserving the environment of the

destination. This suggests that tourism marketers do not real engage in the sustainability of the destination for future use.

A sustainable tourism destination is used as competitive tourism marketing strategy, as (Esparon et al., 2015:714-719) show. Sustainable tourism in some areas acts as a destination competitiveness tool in tourism marketing processes and not in a meaningful way in contributing to a successful tourist destination. Also, the relationship between destination marketing and sustainable destination management has been researched by academics. Lei, Kostopoulon and Huibin (2014:16), pointed out that there is a big relationship between these aspects, and that marketing has a subsequently direct effect and impact on a tourist destination.

Jamal and Camargo (2014:24-26) showed that there is a problem in sustainable tourism justice at the destination as the wellbeing of disadvantaged population is not considered and the cultural commodification and inequalities among disadvantaged groups, prove that there is gap on the role of tourism marketing in efforts at successful destination sustainability. The literature argues that It is important for tourism marketers to consider the justice of the destination itself.

On the other hand, the literature shows that there is a critical question here namely, destination tourism marketers promote places and planners plan their local spaces but how often do the two meet to ensure sustainable destination development is achieved? (McCamley & Gilmore, 2016:14-15).

The literature also points out that most academic research talks about sustainable marketing and not sustainable tourist destinations, thus, Donohoe (2012:130-132), found sustainable marketing emphasises the importance of preservation and conservation for marketing planning and strategies but does not show the role of tourism marketing itself in successful sustainability of heritage destinations.

With this in mind, it was interesting to review how tourism marketing explains the sustainability of a destination in their marketing strategies. It is widely accepted that destination policy settings remain focused on quantitative growth in tourist numbers rather than qualitative sustainable tourist destination (Hall, 2016:365-368; Brennan, & Binney, 2013:269). As a result, this positivity or negativity affects a tourism marketer’s perceptions of destination sustainability in their daily promotion of a destination.

The role of tourism marketing in carrying capacity and mass tourism for sustainable tourist destinations

Carrying capacity and sustainable tourist destinations

To encourage more sustainable consumer and business behaviours with respect to the environments, tourism marketing is expected to have a system wide effect (Truong & Hall, 2016:4-8), therefore the literature argues that it is important for tourism marketers not only to promote larger number of tourist’s arrivals but also the quality of tourist experience, including social and environment carrying capacity for sustainable development of a destination (Tse & Qiu, 2016:15-17; Simon et al., 2014). Given the fact that carrying capacity is significant in marketing any tourist destination for its sustainability the three types of carrying capacity dimensions have a unique importance in tourism marketing and promotion. Subsequently, the three carrying capacity dimensions have been reviewed in relation to the role of tourism marketing in successful tourist destinations.

To start with physical carrying capacity, here the destinations ability to handle tourists crossing border control points and provide accommodation, attractions and transportation is appreciated (Hartwell et al., 2016:57), and is considered as an essential element for successful sustainable tourism destinations as found by Hartwell et al., (2016). They also found that physical carrying capacity must be undertaken as the best way for tourism marketers to consider sustainability. Then, social carrying capacity is important. Jurudo et al., (2012:1338) showed that tourism marketers should consider the crowdedness felt by tourists in interacting with the local communities, however, Jurudo, Damian and Morales, (2013:15-16) identified the significance of this in supporting sustainable tourist destinations.

Moreover, environmental carrying capacity, brings us to the destination`s ability to protect the natural environment given the potential pollution created by tourists, hence Hartwell et., 2016:57; Higham & Moyle., 2016:63, and Jamal & Camargo, 2014:27, have all argued that the importance of environmental carrying capacity for tourism marketers when advertising the destination, leads to tourist satisfaction, harmony in the community and sustainability of the environment.

Moving on, Tse and Qui., (2016:13) found that the high market of tourists in mainland China created problems at the destination including social problems. Thus, there is a need for marketers to limit the number of visitors without exception. Tourism impacts at the destination can be a key factor in measures of carrying capacity by tourism marketers, however, Hartwell et al., (2016:35) identified that the social factors such as overcrowding and unsociable behaviours by tourists creates problems at the destination; since tourism marketing does not take into account as Gössling et al., (2016:528) state that “destination attractiveness affect tourists timing of visitation levels of demand, willingness to pay and desired of stay” are important aspects. Likewise, Polo-Pena, Jamilena and Molina (2012:517-520) noted that sustainability of the destination attracts politicians and the business community and it is also then used as marketing device for marketing the destination.

Whereas Sanchez and Fernandez (2016:11-13) argue that in the improvement of the sustainability of the destination, tourists must be given relevant information to inform their decision-making by all tourism marketers for any specific destination.

Mass tourism and sustainable tourist destinations

Building on Jurrado et al., (2012:1342-1344) and Jared Bowers (2016:761-762), it is noted that tourism marketing development is a driving force that is radically transforming society, the economy and the environment, since these forces provide pressure that affects the tourist destinations sustainability. That is why Lai and Hitchlock, (2016:13-14) and also Silva and Correia, (2016:12) argue that mass tourism affects the resident’s attitudes towards supporting destination sustainability. It is then very important to know how tourism marketers consider massive tourist arrivals when marketing a tourist destination, and if they have carefully considered their promotion.

However, Sanchez and Fernandez (2016:9-10) found that when the number of tourists increase, this puts pressure on the local facilities and it can generate annoyance and antipathy among local residents towards tourists. The discourse of sustainability is in several ways structured around perceptions of wellbeing, concerning both the environment and the people,

as Haltman and Säwe, (2016:327-328) argue that the sustainability in tourist destination works as the selling point to most tourism marketers although they don’t talk about mass tourism when they are marketing the destination. Conversely, marketization of sustainable tourism on the destination market is a business as usual issue without consideration of the greater number of tourists and their effects on the environment or the destination in general (Polo-Pena, Jamilena & Molina, 2012:504).

The role of tourism marketing in Last Chance destinations and Tourism Marketing Organisation in successful sustainable tourist destinations

Last chance tourism and sustainable tourist destinations

Tourism marketing for conservation and sustainable tourist destination is perceived as pandering to a neo-liberal agenda that marketing managers utilize to achieve their goals (Albrecht, 2016:19), but the question of the role of tourism marketing in Last Chance tourism is questionable. Mckeller & McNamara, (2016:17-18) show that Last Chance tourist destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, are places that tourism marketers use as an opportunity for tourist to travel to experience before it is gone, and tourists are then motivated by tourist destination which are ‘fast-disappearing’. Fernandez, Caldito and Rivero, (2015:49) recognized that “the concept of tourism sustainability is still not clearly understood by the international tourism marketers or it may be understood but not valued


The controversy is that sustainable tourist destinations are preferred over those which are less sustainable by tourists; but how tourism marketers use their efforts in supporting and promoting sustainable destination for the long-term survival of their business is worth noting. Eventually Kozak & Kazok, (2016:205-206) pointed out that the primary goal in tourism marketing and promoting sustainable destination would be to project an image aligned towards sustainability values to potential tourists so that the destination may become desirable for them. They also showed that Last Chance tourist destinations are different as tourism marketers use the opportunity to generate profits based on the notion that a destination is disappearing.

The literature (Mckeller & McNamara, 2016:17 and Lai & Hitchcock, 2016:13) shows that effective tourism marketing and communication programs about sustainable tourism are less in Last Chance tourism, however Last Chance tourist destinations are found to be essential for the economic success of tourism marketing agents.

Tourism Marketing Organisation and sustainable tourist destination

Sheeham et al., (2016:550-551), revealed that a Tourism Marketing Organisation is an important tool which focuses on marketing the destination but they have limited willingness to utilize the collective knowledge assets of the destination sustainability which is developed by researchers and government to ensure the sustained viability and success of the destination in the global marketplace. Subsequently, Donohoe (2012:128) showed that Tourism Marketing Organisation and management have vital roles to play with the support and involvement of stakeholders, partners and the local community on the practices of a sustainable destination tourism paradigm, although the limited attitudes among them towards sustainable practices act as a troubling obstacle.

In the same way, Brennan and Binney, (2013:276-277) noted that the use of social marketing by Tourism Marketer’s Organisation affects their role in tourism marketing for sustainability as it can lead to unconsciously pushing a community towards becoming an unsustainable future tourist destination. Again, Hall (2016) also argues that social marketing as a part of Tourism Marketing Organization aims at developing material wellbeing while the increased use of resources as a result of these changes affects the sustainability of the destination.

Furthermore, Hamann and Low (2016:328-330) and Sharpley and Pearce (2014:561) revealed that the there is a need to develop improved evaluation criteria for Tourism Marketer’s Organisations in using social marketing programs that incorporate a consideration of sustainability. In that sense, Liu and Chou (2016:307-308) claim that, the tourist destination has a positive effect on the country’s economic development hence being important for Tourism Marketer’s Organisation to know that destination image is formed from the travel environment including its natural resources and will eventually directly or indirectly affect tourist goals and destination development.

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