Example Tourism Essay
Outline the key requirements for good research and identify how research might support policy-making.
Research,defined as a broad range of processes designed to provide policy makers andmanagers with information that is objective, reliable and as reproducible aspossible (Bull, 1999) is a vital business tool used to support policy makers inmaking decisions. Page (2003) also suggests that tourism policy-making isinherently a political activity, affected by the formal structure ofgovernment. A wide range of forces affects policy making, and policy does notexist in a vacuum, because various agencies exist to implement it. Drew (1980)suggests that research is conducted to solve problems and to expand knowledge,and stresses that research is a systematic way of asking questions, asystematic method of enquiry (taken from Bell, 1999).
As previouslymentioned, policy making is a fundamental business tool, however it must benoted that undertaking research is also a very expensive, time consuming andcomplex task and researchers must be able to select the right information toavoid further implications. Research activity supports policy-making in anumber of ways. First of all if a company is deciding to open a new site in adifferent country for example, they will need to know who their competitorsare, how accessible is the place, where will the labour come from, what impactwill this have on the locals? How safe is the area? How will the marketing andadvertising be conducted to ensure its success? It is clear from this simpleexample how complicated and time consuming information gathering can be.Primary data, secondary data, or both may be used in a research investigation.Primary data is original data gathered for a specific purpose as for exampleinterviewing the local community, while secondary data is data that has alreadybeen collated for similar purposes, i.e. crime statistics. Data here, could becollected either through quantitative, therefore utilising a positivistapproach, or qualitative methods therefore adopting a phenomenologicalapproach. Policy makers will need to know whether that policy is going to besuccessful, politically/legally/ethnically acceptable, the costs involved, thenumber of staff needed to implement that policy and whether it fits with thewants, needs and aspirations of the people directed at (Ritchie and Goeldner,1994).
Taking intoconsideration the fact that research can be an expensive and time consumingtask and that this may make or break policy decisions, some key requirementsfor good research have been identified. Bell (1999) suggests that the followingare to be considered as key requirements for good research to be conducted: theutility of data, therefore the data that can be used, the cost-effectivenesswhereby benefits must be greater than costs; timeliness therefore datathat will be there when needed; accuracy, data will need to be accurate;and finally whatever procedure for collecting data is selected, it shouldalways be examined critically to assess to what extent it is likely to bereliable. Reliability is the extent to which a procedure providessimilar results under constant conditions on all occasion, however due to thenature of tourism this is not always the case.
Three policies examples will now be provided to show howresearch generated the information that was needed to make those policydecisions. The first policy considered is that of Stonehenge. As suggested byChris Blandford Associates (2000) this World Heritage Site survived forthousands of years and not so long ago two roads were introduced into thelandscape, bringing with them ever increasing traffic and serious environmentalproblems. Government's proposal to close the A344 and to place the A303 in a 2Kilometre tunnel where it passes the stone has raised many arguments. Thepolicy for Stonehenge all started with the vision to save this site fromenvironmental degradation and placing it back in its original and uniquesettings, by eliminating the impact on the environment made by the noise andsight of traffic. The way in which this could be achieved was by closing oneroad, the A344, and introducing a two kilometre tunnel. It is important tostress that the decision of policy makers to close the road and introduce thetunnel to solve the problem, has not been decided overnight, but has been theresult of extensive study and consultation since 1991, and alternative wayshave been considered prior to the decision.
Between 1991 and 1993 other 50 possible routes wereconsidered. At this stage researchers decided to gather primary data, by meansof a panel, from local bodies and organisations in order to have their views onthe matter. Each representative gave their own view, and during the process allthe possible alternatives were considered and discussed. A Public Consultationwas held in April 1993, whereby four routes were put forward as a possiblesolution to the problem. In 1994 two national bodies organised a one-dayinternational to debate solutions for both a road improvement and a new visitorcentre for Stonehenge (Chris Blandford Associates, 2000). A Public Exhibitionwas held in September 1995 and a Planning Conference followed in November 1995to understand publics and other interested organisation's perceptions and ideasof the proposal. A further public consultation washeld in 1999, and once again households in the vicinity were consulted (ChrisBlandford Associates, 2000). In November 2000, theHighway Agency conducted primary research to gather qualitative andquantitative data by means of desk study and field surveys. Surveys were alsoused to gather the information needed. Furthermore environmental studies werealso undertaken (Highway Agency, 2000). The policy making process is notcomplete after a policy is implemented, the evaluation and monitoring of theoutcomes against expectations or intended outcomes is a vital activity, and assuggested by Hogwood and Gunn (1984:221) monitoring requires decisions aboutwhat actions will be taken if performance deviated from what desired, it isvery much about control and power. The Stonehenge project is due to becompleted by 2008.
The secondpolicy that will be analysed is that of plans of making Blackpool a world-classand year round resort. The policy making process started with this vision ofBlackpool in mind and was initiated by the Blackpool Borough Council. As allpolicy making processes a lot of research was undertaken and is still in theprocess of been gathered. As suggested by a report of the Blackpool Council(2003), these ambitious proposals that are outlined in a draft master plan,could take 15-20 years to be fully realised. The draft master plan for anew Blackpool also shows how the town's historic tram system could be rebuiltwith new trams and new track, new green spaces created and the town's Victorianarchitecture restored. It has taken the Council two years ofplanning and research and six months during which their vision has been turnedinto something that can form the basis for consultation and debate. The draftmaster plan has been made available to various bodies and quantitative as wellas qualitative data gathered from the local community and variousorganisations. A world-class team of experts has been working with thecouncil's own team of professionals, from its Planning and Transportation andEconomic Development departments, to realise the vision.
The importanceof doing research is not only to understand people's perceptions and fears, butalso to help people understand that the council's aim is that of regeneration.
As alsosuggested by the Chief Executive of Blackpool Borough Council, Steve Weaver,this is an enormous and complex task, with many facets to be pieced togetherand it is important not to underestimate the size of the challenge (BlackpoolCouncil, 2003). Primary data has been collated by using a feedback scheme and aseries of briefings for local businesses and organisations held. The draftmaster plan has also been on show at a series of public exhibitions throughoutthe town. It will be vital to have a good monitoring and evaluationprogramme following the policy's implementation.
The final policy that will be analysed is that of Heathrow Terminal 5.
Terminal 5 (T5) is the biggest planning project ever undertaken byBAA Plc, both in terms of physical size and financial investment. The overallsite is equivalent to 22 football pitches and the development budget is nearing3 billion. The new terminal will provide a new facility to serve 30 milliondomestic and international passengers per year. After at least 13 years ofplanning and the UK's longest public inquiry, of almost four years,construction is now underway (Harun, 2002).
Having been the longest public enquiry, it is inevitableto suggest that the research process undertaken before hand has been a verydemanding one. As suggested by the Department for Transport (2005) various areaswere considered prior to making the final decision. The main areas whereDepartment for Transport officials gave evidence werethe need for T5, Surface Access, Noise, Air Quality, Public Safety, AssociatedApplications and Construction. Primarydata, and more specifically qualitative data, was gathered at a very earlystage through a pre-inquiry meeting. All parties were involvedin this process and all the issues around this policy were discussed. Secondarydata, such as demand forecasts was also used for this enquiry.
Evidence wasgathered from 734 witnesses in total representing over 50 major parties andreceived more than 600 proofs of evidence and over 22,500 writtenrepresentations, most expressing opposition to the proposals. Under the inquiryrules all had a statutory right to be heard and to challenge the views ofothers and time had to be set aside to let them have their say (Department forTransport, 2005).
Although over 70groups and individuals had registered as major parties only about half playedan active role in the inquiry. Among the principal parties were BAA plc,British Airways, the Highways Agency and the Environment Agency. Around 20smaller third parties and individuals played a regular part in the proceedingsincluding local environmental and aircraft noise action groups and residentsassociations. The smaller groups represented themselves. Thefirst phase of the terminal is set to be operational in 2008.
As with all policy making decisions, especially in the scales of this project, it will beextremely important, that a good evaluation and monitoring programme is inplace.