Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Analytical reviews of tourism

The Analytical Syntheses of Survey Results aimed to draw together the investigative surveys of tourists, gatekeepers, businesses, resource controllers, host communities and institutions in each study area and link the findings to the overall conceptual framework. The methodology adopted a theme-based approach in order to highlight the key dimensions of integrated tourism and its role in regional development. In particular, this report makes detailed comparisons of the perceptions, motivation and behaviour of each actor group, assesses integrated tourism and promotional strategy in practice, analyses integration processes and the role of partnerships, evaluates economic, social and cultural impacts, and identifies good practice in integrated tourism development.

It was essential to identify the actors surveyed in each study region before presenting the commonalities and differences in their opinions. As qualitative research, we also allowed for variation within each group. Wherever possible, actors from each group are discussed and compared in each subsection, thus identifying key characteristics with regard to the different themes and then comparing similarities and differences of opinion within and between actor groups.

There are six separate country reports and a consolidated comparative analysis covering all 12 study regions. Despite many similarities, the SPRITE study regions exhibit several differences, particularly in respect of their local tourism actors. Visitors to these areas are mainly domestic in origin, except for the two Irish areas, the Aitana Valleys and Basse-Normandie. Visitors ages vary, but in general they are well educated, with a medium or high income. Gatekeepers in the regions differ in their scale of operation, their objectives and sources of funding. Businesses are often young, small, family-owned private structures that have provided their own start-up capital, and are predominantly in the accommodation and food sectors. Resource controllers are frequently small organisations operating for less than two decades; most have well trained and educated staff (except for the Aitana Valleys and Èeská Kanada). Host communities are characterised by an elderly population (except in the two Czech regions which have populations that are younger than the national average). The level of education of local residents is either generally favourable (UK, IE, FR) or less favourable (CZ, GR, ES). The predominant economic activities are in the tertiary sector, although industry predominates in the NMC and it also has an important role in Basse-Normandie. Most institutions are relatively young, state funded and active at different levels: local, regional and national.

The natural landscape and associated activities seem to be the main motivation for tourists to visit, except for Basse-Normandie where historical and cultural values predominate. However, cultural resources and activities also play an important role in attracting visitors, and the character of the host community is another important factor (authentic, friendly people).

Many regions lack an integral promotion strategy for tourism, due mainly to a lack of co-ordination and strong vertical networks. Efforts to overcome this deficiency have been made in some areas, but strategies tend to be fragmented and imagery weak and sometimes confusing. Although potentially all of the areas have a wide range of information available, word-of-mouth is the most important source of information for visitors.

The presence and level of development of partnerships vary widely. Informal networks based on personal relationships are prevalent and considered to be efficient; many local actors view formal networks with scepticism. Horizontal networks seem better-developed and more widespread than vertical ones, which face a number of problems that inhibit their creation and development. Formal networks are limited, but good examples are present in Cumbria, the Aitana Valleys and Basse-Normandie.

All of the study regions lack a comprehensive and integrated plan for tourism development. In most cases, co-ordination between the institutions in charge of the design and implementation of such plans is deficient and participation of other local actors is limited. The SPRITE investigative tasks gave tourism actors in these regions the opportunity to propose actions that will help to achieve IT, some common to all areas. The common proposals include: the need for better co-ordination amongst local actors; the promotion of local participation in the planning and implementation of tourism; the inclusion of new activities, resources and services into the tourism product; the development of tourism in areas that are currently isolated or underused; and the improvement of the quality of services offered. The development of better promotional strategies and the improvement of C & IT have also been suggested in a number of areas.

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