Tourism in 21st Century

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Tourism in the face of 21st century’s challenges.

1. Introduction

It is difficult to pin-point in a short publication all the problems which will determine the direction of tourism’s development in the twenty-first century. This difficulty results from dynamic transformations which are in our modern civilisation. Twenty years ago in his book entitled „The Third Wave”, A. Toffler wrote that humanity will stand in the face of new challenges, and it appears that these processes are in the future. According to the author the title „The Third Wave”, like the previous two indicate, „…will squeeze out previous cultures and civilisations bringing it’s morals into effect, which was inconceivable for people who had been born earlier”1. The speed of our everyday life was considerably slower, as the first wave, the agricultural revolution, needed one thousand years to run its course. The Industrial revolution, or the second wave, needed only three hundred years from the beginning to the end. However, these prior transformations are incomparable to the speed and progress of our modern civilisation. This third wave has been dubbed the technological revolution and is now in process. Some of the more visible processes in our modern life include; the quick development of the technology, the revolution in genetics, the conquest of outerspace, the rapid development of cities, and the changes in our jobs and lifestyles. With this information we can state that A. Toffler was correct in saying „The third wave will burst into history within a few decades time. Thus we will feel the effects of the third wave in our lifetime”2. Toffler’s vision of radical changes in economics accompanied by worldviews of new “liberal opportunities” will create the disintegration of the industrial society. Traditional industries will be replaced with new industries based on modern technology, causing transformation between the relationships of our home and work place, working time and free time, and prosperity versus poverty. The meaning of the natural environment will become more important as the world will be seeking new values resulting in changes of cultures and ideologies. Lifestyles and family functions will change, taking on new meaning with concepts such as science, careers, and unemployment. However, the question remains, what impact will these new changes have on tourism? Will tourism use these opportunities, or will it be an enclave in which we can rest from civilisation?

Tourism is a dynamic discipline and is affected by these processes previously discussed. The analysis of trends in the modern tourist market show there are many changes suggesting that tourism in the future will differ from present day affairs. The complexity of tourism will bring about many difficulties throughout its development. J. Krippendorf stated, „ it is possible that tourism, an antidote for the industrial world, has become an industry and predacious devourer of the environment”3. The more difficult challenge of the twenty-first century will be the protection of the environment. Fortunately the tourism industry has begun using modern technology in the fields of computer science, communications, and the building of transportation to preserve the environment. The development of tourism is also known to be an asset to social economics, however, there tends to be strong speculations to the overall benefits in this aspect.

  • Toffler A., The Third Wave, Bantam , New York 1981. Toffler A., Trzecia fala [Tlumaczenie E. Woydyllo], Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1997, p. 44.
  • Ibidem.

2. The Conditions and Prognosis in the Development of Tourism at the Beginning of the 21st Century.

Consider the further of tourism and the challenges it will face at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The prognosis is very optimistic as suggested in publicised rapport4. The rapport talks about quick development and states that during the next twenty years tourism will be one of the fasts growing departments in the world’s economy. However, tourism is far from the end of its development, as for now it consists of a small percentage of the world’s citizens. The main hazards in development are problems with the political situation in the world, especially conflicts within the Balkans, the instability of the Arab world, and the disorganisation between authorities and conflict in the former territory of the Soviet Empire. Slightly less hazardous factors deal with economics such as recession and the increase of gas prices. Nevertheless the outlook on tourist development remains optimistic5. The quantitative development of tourism is accompanied by multi-aspects including qualitative and structural transformations. The recent geopolitical changes made in different regions of the world has had a great influence on the scale and structure of tourism. The downfall of communism and democratisation of societies in former socialist countries are events which have an impact on modern tourism, and other parts of the world have witnessed similar processes within their societies. The development of international tourism will take on new dynamic and important changes in spatial structures. Generally speaking an increase in share of the tourist structure shows no connection with an increase in share of the profit structure. There is no guarantee of an even distribution in the benefits of tourism. A good example is Africa, which last years shares in total scale of tourist arrivals increased while the total scale of shares in receipts from tourism rapidly decreased.

The forecasts about the tourism development are made by using econometric models. So, very important to remember is that a basic variable is time. Therefore, forecasting quick develop of tourism, on a base of fast develop of countries like in nineties is risky. A lot of these countries achieved so-called market maturity. The best opportunities for development of tourism are in areas (e.g. China) where it’s develop is depended on stabilised political situation, what is very far in the future. We cannot forget about that organisations (e.g.WTO) which make forecasts are not impartial. They have got a good interest in forecasting of increasing tendencies.

Some interesting changes in the quality of the tourist market are connected with the supply and demand. These aspects of needs, motivations, and demands lead to new directions in tourist firms. A quick tempo of bringing modern technologies into tourism may herald a real revolution in the organisation of the tourist system. These examples show that tourism, like all repeats of civilisation, odder-go changes and the question remains; what tasks will tourism face in the beginning of the new century? There are many factors which will shape the future of the tourist market and it should be noted that some are out of the control of the market. In an attempt to answer some of these questions there must be an analysis of the trends involved with tourism. Some of the more important conditions in the development of the tourist system with the influence of some components are presented in the figure 1.

Figure 1. Forces of change in the tourist system.

Source: Cooper Ch., Fletscher J., Gilbert D., Wanhill., Tourism – Principles &

Practice, Pitman Piblishing, Surrey 1993, p. 266.

The diagram presents two basic groups of factors which will decide about tourism in the twenty-first century. The first group are exterior factors called “megatrends”. The second group are interior factors connected with the tourist market. Because of the limited frames in this publication the developing megatrends are on table one, while the factors from the second group are in the complex tables. For more convenient analysis they are split into two groups, one concerned with the demand and one the supply. Tables two and three respectively.

  • Krippendorf J., Nieskazona przyroda jako podstawa istnienia turystyki, in: Problemy Turystyki Nr 2/4, Instytut Turystyki, Warszawa 1986, p. 89 and Krippendorf J., The Holiday Makers – Understending the Impact of Leisure and Travel, Heinemann Publishing Ltd, Oxford 1987.
  • For example: Travel and Tourism’s Economic Perspective – A Special Report from The World Travel & Tourism Council, WT&TC 1995;Tourism – 2020 Vision. A New Forecast from the World Tourism Organization. Execxutive Summary, WTO, Madrid 1998;Future Trends in Tourism – Executive Summary. Presentation Handout by Karl Obermair, AIT, Stockholm, June 1998.

3. Megatrend Influences on the Tourist Market.

The end of the twentieth century was a time of great transformation in all fields of life. There were many fast paced changes throughout social conditions, the economy, and technology, which brought about many transitions within tourism. The constant tendencies to observe and gain knowledge about the markets basic condition are needed to succeed with each activity and the trends within tourism can change quickly. The ability to forecast and stimulate these developmental processes is the key to making the correct decisions for the future. The fluxuation and competition within the tourist market not only requires constant observation and the ability to anticipate change, but also being able to react to the new trend before it becomes the norm. This shows the importance of knowledge in the action of these megatrends, which can be classified into six basic groups; demographics, politics, social and cultural, economics, technology, and ecology.

In each of these groups there are positive factors, which will either stimulate or deter the development of tourism, each with variability in strength and effect. These constituents will decide about the dynamics and expansion of tourism with the difficulty being verification. These megatrends, especially demographics, social, cultural, ecology, and technology hold such a strong influence on the maturation of tourism that such events as a political crisis or economic recession (in some regions) would be unable to hinder such progress.

Demographic factors, especially:

  • age of societies;
  • tendencies to set up home late;
  • a smaller number of households;
  • a dominant model of family 2+1;
  • increasing number of lonely people;
  • increasing number of childless couples;
  • increasing number of working women.

Political factors, especially:

  • changes in Central-West Europe;
  • integration of the European Union;
  • liberalisation of international migrations;
  • convenience passports, foreign currency;
  • unstable political situation in many regions of the world;
  • international terrorism;
  • increased importance of safe travel

Social & cultural factors, especially:

  • shortened time of working, more free time and longer vacations;
  • increase of time for additional work;
  • earlier retirements;
  • increasing number of “two-income” households; which were thought of as a healthy life;
  • a family crisis;
  • conflicts between identity and modernisation, especially in developing countries
  • a radical demands and increases of importance of ethnic movement etc.

Economical factors, especially:

  • continuation of moderate economical increase in the world scale;
  • a bigger disproportion between rich and poor countries;
  • a bigger financial crisis in a number of countries (especially, among “economical tigers” in South Asia and Pacific);
  • a stable price of petroleum;
  • liberalisation and development of an international trade;
  • capital concentration in world’s economy;
  • globalisation of economical activity;

Technological factors, especially:

  • automation and computerisation;
  • developing of telecommunication
  • developing of computing systems;
  • developing of transport and infrastructure (airports, motorways);

Ecological factors, especially:

  • smaller environmental resources
  • a greater ecological awareness in society;
  • government’s concern with environment;
  • conflicts causes by developing of a big agglomerations ( in developing and
  • use of modern technologies in everyday life (household articles, sport, tourist equipment);
  • developing of soft technologies; developed countries );
  • development of the ecological movement
  • international collaboration in field of natural and cultural environment protection;

4. The Main Trends in Tourist Demands

There are many interesting publications about change within the field of tourist demands and many studies, which analyse the direction of these changes in development, have been publicised recently. The majorities are unanimous regarding the expansion and direction on the transformations of demands, so much so that there is even an accepted concept known as “Hard and Soft Tourism”. It is based on the observational changes within the sphere of former and actual clients in travel agencies and set the standard characteristics of two opposite kinds of tourism: the traditional tourist and the modern tourist. These are presented in table 2.

Table .2. Tourist demand changes. Conception of’ “Hard & Soft Tourism”.

Hard Tourism.

Characteristic of “so far tourism”

Soft Tourism

Characteristic of “future tourism”

  • Package tours; Individual travelling ;
  • A lot of time, short-term residences; A lot of time, long-term residences
  • Model of one big travel during holidays; Model of two shorter travels during a year
  • Everything organised earlier from “a” to “z” (sights, a route, program etc.);
  • Program decisions made individually and spontaneously;
  • Comfort and passivity; An activity and effort;
  • Expectation of number of travels and attractions;
  • Expectation of new experiences and higher quality;
  • Sense of superiority, demonstration effect; Respect and relationship with hostess;
  • Lack of knowledge about attractions, culture and tradition in visiting areas;
  • Knowledge about countries we want to visit;
  • Imported life style and behaviour; Lifestyle following to an example of local population
  • Purchases; Gifts
  • Noise; Silence;
  • Freely available souvenirs (e.g. a mass production of Eiffel Tower figurines;
  • Individual souvenirs (e.g. photo and picture took individually, private video film)
  • Lack of interest in language of visiting country;
  • Studying local language (at least a few words);
  • Fast transport and frequent moves; Less importance of moving speed;
  • Curiosity; Tact;
  • Expectation of comfort; Comfort is not essential;
  • A distance between client and tourist staff;
  • A good relationship with tourist staff;

Source: Ostrowski S., Josta Krippendorfa wolanie o nowa swiatowa polityke turystyczna, in: Problemy Turystyki Nr 3, Instytut Turystyki, Warszawa 1983, p. 146. 

In table three there is a vision of which tourism will dominate the future, characterised by a more active tourist and less interest in passive tourism. The prediction is that traditional tourism, refereed to as 3 X S (sun sea and sand) will be squeezed out by tourism based on a new formula involving 3 X E (entertainment, excitement, and education). During recent years there has become intensified interest in travelling to historical cities, the so-called “green tourist” with additional concern for a tendency in business tourism. Nevertheless it could be halted through the development of telecommunications and shorter but more frequent trips consisting of sightseeing and holiday could become more popular. The useful system of “bridges” between a national holiday leading to the extension of weekends has brought about a prognosis for a renaissance in national tourism. V.T.C. Middleton claimed that for tourists, who quite often may be ‘experienced,’ a trend in national tourism may become more attractive now then ever, including the sixties. The smaller interest in international tourism is in the neighbouring countries, or places where many Europeans have had vacation. In 1990 European travel represented about seven percent of all international travel, although this number was up to about ten percent in 1996, and Europeans are not the only ones concerned with these numbers. A poll conducted recently by the Travel Trade Gazette concerning international tourism showed these tendencies in change also pointed to the tourist industry representatives. One director of a travel agency was quoted saying ‘a person who was in Spain ten years ago at present is probably in Penang”6. The quick increase in numbers of individual trips along with package tours is the prediction of the future. Today Individuality has a strong influence on cars, clothes and other daily needs as well, and the gaining interest of individual travel is one of the most important tendencies in today’s tourist demands.

6. Conclusion

The evolution and transformations in tourism during the last one hundred years must be considered one of the most interesting processes in the recent history of humanity. The changes and evolution of the tourist in the next three decades of the twenty-first century are presented in a table which was made by H.Kahn almost a quarter of a century ago. This shows the unfolding of tourism as we see it today and as the table shows it is gaining momentum.

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