Diversity, devolution and disorder: The management of tourism destinations
Authors: Fyall, A., Fletcher, J. and Spyriadis, T.
It is widely acknowledged that ‘the destination lies at the very heart of the travel and tourism system, representing as it does an amalgam of products that collectively provide a tourism experience to consumers’ (Fyall, Garrod and Tosun, 2006, p. 75). The fact that destinations comprise so many products, stakeholders and complex management and political relationships, contribute to them being regarded as one of the most difficult ‘products’ to manage and market (Buhalis, 2000). To manage best the complexities and ‘imperfections’ inherent within destinations it is therefore accepted that destinations need to bring together all parties to collaborate rather than to compete, and to pool resources towards developing an integrated management and delivery system (Buhalis & Cooper, 1998; Fyall & Garrod, 2005; Prideaux & Cooper, 2002; Telfer, 2001). Referred to by King (2002) as the ŉetwork economy’, destination management organisations are, in the future, recommended to enter into strategic relationships with partners who collectively can deliver a seamless visitor experience to customers. King (2002, p. 108) argues that this will occur due to the fact that it is the ‘relevance of the experience they offer the customer, rather than the destination they promote, which will be the key ingredient for success in the future’. In view of the calls for a more collaborative approach to the management of destinations (Palmer & Bejou, 1995), many destinations in England are beginning to re-evaluate their modus operandi and begin to address four quite fundamental questions, namely: what functions should an effective destination management organisation carry out to provide maximum short-, medium-and long-term benefit to the destination; what is a reasonable allocation of resources to each of these functions; what is the most appropriate form and structure for any new organisation; what other models exist and what lessons can be learnt from other successful and failed partnerships? The aim of this chapter, therefore, is to critically evaluate existing and emerging collaborative destination management structures in England. Set within the specific context of the devolution of tourism that currently exists in the country the chapter examines a number of case studies and identifies a series of lessons to be drawn for the future management of destinations in England.