Whole Tourism Systems
Whole Tourism System Theory in Practice
This paper aims to outline the Whole Tourism System (WTS) theory and the practical functions within the system. Weaver and Lawton in Tourism Management state that the different internal functions of a WTS interact to form the ‘single functional structure’. The internal systems required to constitute a WTS were outlined by Leiper in 2004: at least one tourist, at least one tourist generating region, at least one tourist route region, at least one tourist destination, as well as a travel and tourism industry facilitating movement within the system. Whole Tourism System theory is the concept of a number of both internal and external ‘interdependencies, energy flows and interactions’. The 1930s saw the emergence of systems theory to describe phenomenon that are ordinarily too complex. To explain the factors and elements of a World Tourism System this essay will use the Australia to Bali tourist system as an example to explain how each element functioning singularly creates a WTS.
Within a whole tourism system tourists play the most valuable role. Tourism is essentially human experience and the enjoyment an individual gains from a destination. The geographical elements within a WTS are the tourist generating region, tourist destination region and the transit route region. The tourist generating region (TGR) within a whole tourism system is related to the demand part of tourism; here people gather information on destinations and this region is the ‘push zone’ for an individual to set off on travel. A tourist destination region (TDR) is generally the main component in convincing people to travel. The TDR is where the main impact of tourism is felt; the force attracting tourists to this region is what starts the entire system and where the majority of planning and management take place. The transit route region refers not only to the period of travel require to reach a destination but also the various possibilities of stop offs along the way.
The final element within the Whole tourism System theory model is the tourism industry. This industry is made up of the trade of travel, including transport and accommodation and catering for destination attractions and catering. Travel and tour agencies advertise and sell these to tourists in order to get them to visit a specific tourist destination region, there are a great many different agencies aimed at all tastes and budgets. External factors also affect tourism systems. Political factors may inhibit a certain country as a TGR because ‘no travel’ bans are placed on citizens preventing them travelling to a certain TDR; for example the embargo placed on Cuba in the 1960s. Weaver’s fourth edition of Tourism Management also highlights how natural and cultural factors affect the energy flow within a WTS and vice versa.
A popular and well known whole tourism system is the constant flow of Australians to the Indonesian island of Bali. In this situation Australia is the tourist generating region because tourism industry in Australia often has specials and deals such as flight and accommodation packages to Bali, creating the ‘push’ needed to motivate tourists to travel to the region. Transit routes to Bali are non-complicated, a number of airlines fly out of all capital cities within Australia on a daily basis, taking tourists to Denpasar airport – a short drive from the central hub of Kuta and Lombok. Once in the main area of Bali there is no shortage of modes of transport. As a tourist destination region the island of Bali offers something for everyone; famous surfing beaches, plenty of shopping, parties and of course the beautiful natural landscape. All of these factors within the tourism system create a constant flow of energy between the different elements; largely due to the Australian tourism industry offering up Bali as a close-to-home cultural experience.
A tourist destination region’s attractiveness can be identified via the culture, history, cuisine, activities and landscape. These features have been meticulously examined in the past to determine what makes a tourist pick one destination over another. Leiper gives a definition regarding the boundaries of a tourist destination region:
‘The boundary of a TDR can be regarded as the feasible day-tripping range around a tourist’s accommodation, encompassing the area that tourists might typically visit on daytrips…each hotel or other accommodation base where a where a tourist stays for a night is the centre of a TDR.’
A number of factors affect the motivation of a tourist to visit one particular destination; this is largely due to the attractiveness of that region. Destination attractiveness is linked to the theory of ‘pull’ factors. These are factors within the TDR that attract tourists. Examples include a favourable climate, cultural experiences and physical attractions. Word of mouth is a definite factor in creating a pull or push to a certain destination. For a relatively small island Bali has a large amount of attractiveness in that activities ranging from nightclubbing to mountain hikes are easily accessible from one’s place of accommodation in under a day.
Motivation is only one element within a whole tourism system yet it is one of the most important, after all without tourists there would not be a system. Fodness’ 1994 scholarly article outlines basic motivation theory as suggesting needs, wants and goals to cause tension within an individual leading them to seek a release. In today’s society wants and needs are generally materialistic which is how the tourism industry sells someone looking to travel a holiday to a destination that fits their desire. Travel motivation also determines whether a traveller is a tourist, page 26 of Tourism Management explains that a non – tourist traveller could be an active defence member or simply a person commuting to work. There are three main types of tourists, those seeking leisure and recreation, visiting friends and relatives and business travel. As this paper focuses on travel of Australian residents to Bali the main tourist motivation here would be leisure and recreation. The ‘pull’ factors that Bali is able to boast motivate individuals to travel to the region.
Transport development helps to improve the efficiency of the tourism industry. Without the transport system travelling would be impossible, making the transport element of a WTS an integral part of its survival. Modes of transport play a significant role in a tourist’s decision making process, as does the ease of accessibility to the transport system within a tourist destination region. The transport system provides the link between the tourist generating and tourist destination regions, the development of transportation has assisted in the development of destinations as a favourable holiday location. Transport systems are amongst the most important factors within a tourism system as they provide not only access to the destination itself but also to attractions located within the tourist destination region.
Travel between Australia and Bali is easy for the majority of travellers. Most major Australian cities offer direct flights to Denpasar airport, to visit this popular tourism destination. Virginia Watson’s online article How to Travel to Bali from Australia is an excellent source of travel information; ‘it is relatively easy to purchase airline tickets from Australia to Bali as the number of flights increased in 2011 in response to Australian tourism demand’. In relation to other overseas travel destinations, it is cost efficient to travel to Bali, flight times range from five to seven hours, depending on which city a traveller departs. Upon reaching the island nation of Bali travel options are vast, for some this is daunting, for most tourists the modes of transport in Bali are a highlight of their trip. There are city-like taxis, a seemingly endless supply of mopeds available for hire and plenty of drivers willing to take you on tours around the amazing island.
If an individual is not visiting family or friends they generally seek accommodation that provides facilities and comforts available to them at home; if a tourist destination cannot provide these qualities then it is unlikely the visitor will adopt some form of attachment to the location. As a result the accommodation sector plays an important role in attracting tourists to a destination. The industry now hosts a vast range of diversity and specialisations (p140 Tourism Management) in order to cater for different budgets and preferences. Hotels across the globe focus on providing maximum comfort at affordable prices. There remains an array of hotels with vastly different standards from large five star resorts catering for the affluent to lodging houses available to a backpacker on a tight budget. The forms of accommodation available in one particular region are highly important as they dictate the demographic of tourists to the TDR.
The range and styles of accommodation available in the case study WTS of Australia to Bali is phenomenal. For the purpose of outlining the differences in accommodation this paper will focus on those available in Bali. A simple wotif.com search brings up a hug array of accommodation options in Bali; there are chain hotels, beach front resorts, romantic bungalows, backpacker style lodging houses, bed and breakfasts and even homestays – definitely something to suit any taste or budget. The diverse accommodation facilities reflect directly upon the type of traveller that takes the short plane ride from Australia to Bali. Families and single backpackers alike descend upon the picturesque island for an unforgettable holiday experience and the local tourism industry has made sure that no one is turned off by lack off suitable accommodation.
Although Bali’s religious and cultural beliefs have been able to withstand the constant flow of Western visitors other aspects of life on the island have changed significantly due the technology tourists bring with them. Many Balinese people now speak English in order to communicate. The domino effect of hotels and resorts catering for the technological demands of individual from western civilisation, comforts such as televisions and mobile phones are finding their way into Balinese homes. Although agriculture is still a major industry in Bali 20% of the island’s economy is gained from the tourist industry, making it a necessity to be able to transport visitors. Bali has come a long way in the last 30 years in respect to technology in transportation including guided tours and an endless choice of waterborne vehicles.
Similar to tourism technology is forever changing, and Bali is quickly playing catch up. Medical advances in Bali such as the International Medical centre cater for tourists to a standard they would expect at home. While part of the Bali experience is the laid back atmosphere the constant consumer demand for a quick and efficient service has seen the use of technology implemented in larger shops, bars and restaurants in Bali. While the water source in Bali remains a problem for visitors via the dreaded ‘Bali belly’ advances are being made via a number of studies in the hope of providing a drinkable water source. Australia is most certainly technologically advanced and the impact of the energy flow within the tourism system that includes Bali is evident in the recent technological advances on the island.
Sustainable tourism in Bali is not at a very high standard compared to its island neighbour Australia, although steps are being taken to move toward a more sustainable method of supporting the huge tourism industry. Bali authorities monitor the construction of high rise buildings by issuing permits and ensuring surrounding infrastructure can support a new building. The central areas of Kuta, Lombok and Seminyak sprung up as a result of the government attempting to centralise tourism to preserve the natural environment, however this created an economic imbalance and other locations on the island have since seen the arrival of foreign visitors.
The Australia/Bali tourism system is an exemplary model as all elements of the system are present here. Although the ‘pull’ factors in Bali do no point to tourist motivation as being able to sit in a hotel room surrounded by iPhones and laptops this accommodation option is readily available, as is almost any accommodation style imaginable. Australian visitors to Bali are largely seeking a close-to-home cultural experience packed with opportunities for adventure, shopping and an all-around good time. The tourism industry within Australia creates a substantial push convincing people to holiday in Bali; word of mouth also inspires friends of friends that have visited experience the island for themselves. In recent years airline travel has developed significantly in this tourism system in order to keep up with tourism demand. Sustainable tourism in Bali is coming in to more in focus then it has been in the past for Balinese authorities as tourism makes up an integral part of the Indonesian economy. The Australia to Bali whole tourism system appears to be a highly efficient model with only the technological difference making for an apparent hindrance to the tourism industry.