GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Tourism Management Organization: A Comparative Analysis of Destination Management Organizations in the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
Amitabh Upadhya

Tourism Management Organization: A Comparative Analysis of Destination Management Organizations in the GCC

The swiftly changing global tourism market has made better informed consumers increasingly demanding, less forgiving, more price sensitive, time-starved and spoilt for choice. Motivation for purchases has changed and it is not only an offer of service that they are looking for, instead it has to be more then the service (McLauchlan 2007). Defining this “more” is not an objective of this study but it does offer an interesting trail for research.
“In any country, the emergence and continuation of tourism as a dynamic and viable industry is dependent upon the adoption of a strategic approach to planning and marketing” (Faulkner 1995). The hallmark of such an approach is the inclusion of a systematic and structured analysis of broader environmental factors affecting tourism demand as an integral part of the planning process.
This paper is an attempt to investigate and analyze the nature, structure and compulsions of the organizational set-up of the tourism sector in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). GCC is a group of states joined together with a thread of history which weaves together the society, culture, economy and polity of these states into a tapestry of one people and one nation. A qualitative case study method is used for the comparative analysis of tourism development and potential of countries of the GCC region in a global context.
The priority which a country accords to tourism in the national economy, and its assessment of the potential value of tourism to the economy, in relation to other industries, also determines the character of its organization of tourism. The stage of tourism development attained by a country also has much influence on its tourist organization.
Functionally the tourism industry works on its organizations. It is the framework within which tourism works, it relates to the structure of the industry and is concerned with the issues involved in, and approaches to tourism. The tourism organization helps to develop and promote the tourist product and contribute to the success of the destination. It has to coordinate and harmonize the activities of different sections of travel trade and the interest of both the tourist and residents at the destination. In any destination, tourism requires the involvement and participation of several organizations and interests. Each of these usually provides only one component of the total tourist product. But each has an interest in the destination which extends beyond its own exclusive contribution to it.
An efficient coordination of activities of various components of the tourism sector is achieved if a National Tourism Organization (NTO) is in place. The UN Conference on International Travel and Tourism, as early as 1963, emphasized the role of NTO- “In order to ensure the coordinated and well planned operation of tourist activities, it was important to leave to governments the ultimate management of tourism”. The Conference considered it “incumbent on the governments to stimulate and coordinate national tourist activities”, and was convinced that the “task can, in the main, be carried through the medium of National Tourist Organization”. Further the Conference recommended that “in order to be able to carry out their proper functions, the NTO should be awarded wider competence, increased responsibilities, and endowed with necessary authority and larger resources”.
An NTO is the designated organization and remains the focal point of destination management and it can be assumed that an NTO is actually the major Destination Management Organization (DMO) in a country or region. U. N. World Tourism Organization in 2004 attempted to clarify the ambiguity surrounding the nature of NTOs and defined it as a DMO that is generally responsible for management and marketing of destinations. It classified DMOs as National, Provincial and Local tourism organizations. The same UNWTO report highlights the important role of the public sector in destination management and marketing. It further advocates, based on the survey, of DMOs around the world the need of public private partnership to promote and organize destinations. There was also a very high level of agreement amongst participating DMOs, the report notes, that tourism development, management, marketing and promotion should be managed within an integrated structure. (World Tourism Organization (2004) Survey of destination management organizations). In the complex global scenario that exists today the DMO has become the fulcrum of all developmental activities of a destination (Presenza et al 2005).

Not much research is available on the role of tourist organizations especially in the Middle East region which despite its troubled environment has proved to be a great attractor of visitors. The area commonly referred to as the Middle East is the mid-lands between the two perceived halves of the world the East and the West. Discussion of tourism in the Middle East continues to fall between numerous extremes: persistent and pervasive ‘orientalist’ conceptions or peoples and places, somewhat disjunctive notions of massive post modernist spatial transformations and configurations of the region as a series of ‘no-go’ areas due to military and political instability. In the recent past, though the Middle East has seen infrastructural development of international standards to support tourism and leisure. In reality today, this mid-land of the world has come up as the melting pot of the West and the Orient (Robinson 2006). GCC is an integral part of the Middle East and has gained substantial importance in global context since oil was struck in the late sixties. A semblance of stability also provided global respectability to the GCC in the last decade. Tourism has been adopted by several of GCC countries as an alternative economic activity to depleting oil resources and a long term strategic competitive move.
Most popular destinations of the region have structured their tourism models on available best-practices to suit local environment successfully. Reviewing literature on tourist destinations several explanations can be observed which attempt to elucidate the nature of the tourism destination. It seems quite reasonable to accept destinations as an amalgam of products and services available in one location that can draw visitors from beyond its spatial confines. Pearce (1992) Eric Laws (1995) Cooper et al. (1998) Buhalis (2000)
With wide review of existing literature, empirical research of industry players through structured questionnaires and focused interviews this study attempts to find out the role of tourism organizations in development and growth of tourism destinations, comparative analysis of various organizational models practiced in the GCC countries, examination of existing structural framework and destination competitiveness of tourism sector of the region. The study moves on the premise that ‘tourism achieves its perceived success in a country within a framework of a defined organization at the highest level for taking meaningful policy decisions’. It is not only the designated tourism organization that plays a role, the study notes that there could be several other organizations/institutions that lend qualitative support to the destination attraction and competiveness such as cultural, arts, antiquity and archeological organizations. This study, as a natural corollary of the exploration, looks into several such organizations and examines their role. Culture and religion plays an important role in the society of GCC countries. One of the objectives of the study is to explore the possibility of a greater tourism development region divided only on the strengths and opportunities of geographical sub regions within the GCC.

Key References:
1. Buhalis, D. (2000) Marketing the Competitive Destination of the Future, Tourism Management, 21(1), 97 -116
2. Cooper, Chris; Fletcher, John; Gilbert, David & Wanhill, Stephen (1998) Tourism Principles and Practices 2nd Edition, (ed.) Rebecca Shepherd, Longman England 101-114
3. Faulkner H.W. (1995), Global Tourism, Butterworth Heinmann, Oxford
4. Laws, Eric (1995) Tourist Destination Management- Issues, Analysis and Policies, Routledge; London 104-129
5. McLauchlan Richard 2007 Gulf News (daily)

6. Pearce, D. (1992) Tourist organizations, Harlow, Essex, England: Longman Group UK Ltd.
7. Presenza, A; Sheehan, L; Ritchie, B. (2005) Towards a Model of the Roles and Activities of Destination Management Organizations, Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Science. Electronic Copy
8. Robinson, Mike (2006) Tourism in the Middle East: Continuity, Change and Transformation. (ed.) Daher, Rami Farouk-Channel View Publications England vii-ix
9. World Tourism Organization (2004) Survey of Destination Management Organizations Madrid, Spain: World Tourism Organization