Section V

Closing Thoughts About Tourism

As you have seen, tourism is a complex system that affects the economic, social and physical fabric of every community in which it exists.  This section identifies some important fallacies and half-truths that tend to confuse those who wish to benefit from tourism.  Some of the more popular ones follow.


Fallacies And Half-Truths

Tourism Does Not Use Natural Resources (Half-Truth)

This statement is partly true.  Tourism does not extract minerals and other resources as do mining and petroleum production.  It does not consume natural resources in the sense of harvesting forests.  However, tourism development occupies land and often depends greatly upon protected natural resource assets.  Unless the quality of water, wildlife, forests and other natural resources are maintained, many tourist attractions will lose their appeal.  While it is true that activities associated with natural resources, such as viewing or photographing scenery and outdoor recreation - do not use up these resources, increased demand for them may threaten their environmental quality.  If natural resources are not protected, they and the tourism on which they are based will erode.  Careful management is essential in order that residents and visitors alike may enjoy these resources into perpetuity.  Commercial enterprise can gain from governmental regulations that:

   protect water quality for swimming and fishing

   protect landscape quality along scenic roadside

   sustain wildlife for photography and game hunting

   protect rare historic sites and buildings from destruction

Tourism Is Easy To Develop (Fallacy)

A simple new promotion or a new information center may be helpful, but are not enough to make an impact in the marketplace.  Unless a community makes capital investments in new attractions and community beautification, promotes community interest in tourism, and becomes known as a worthwhile destination in the minds of prospective travel markets, it is not likely that tourism will thrive.  Tourism development is not as simple as bringing a single manufacturing plant into a community.  It involves examining the entire community through the eyes of the tourists and coordinating both physical and program developments and improvements.

Tourism Development Is Exclusively Government’s Role (Fallacy)

This fallacy has some supporters, particularly among those who have seen major governmental intervention in other countries.  While market economies thrive on minimal governmental intervention, there are many tourism roles that have traditionally been held by government.  These include the management of highways, harbors, airports, beaches, wildlife, and water.  As tourism continues to grow it seems appropriate that government accept new roles for tourism, including research, financial support for education and training, planning and interagency cooperation.  But, the diversity of responsibility required to meet the needs of tourism markets will ultimately come from commercial enterprise and non-profit organizations.

Tourism Has Nothing To Do With Other Economic Developments (Fallacy)

This fallacy has kept the industrial development forces and the tourism interests apart for too long in most communities.  While tourism development is somewhat different, many aspects are similar.  Both require leadership and viable community assets, such as transportation, finance, competent management and fundamental support for jobs, incomes and tax revenues, etc.  Industrial development and tourism development organizations should work closely together in any community to achieve widespread community enhancement.

Tourism Is Unstable (Fallacy)

This fallacy has kept tourism from becoming well understood by financial backers, political leaders, and the lay public.  No other segment of the economy has weathered economic recessions as well as tourism.  The propensity of the public to travel is a pervasive one.  It is seen as a right.  Records show that in many instances it has taken priority over many other forms of consumer purchasing.  Modern tourism in this country was born in the depression of the 1930’s and has demonstrated that it is probably more secure than most other forms of the economy.  However, tourism is sensitive to market changes and seasonality.  It is important that communities understand their own tourist markets in relation to general economic conditions.

Tourism Is Always Beneficial (Half-Truth)

This statement would be true if we inserted the word almost.  Tourism affects the economic, social, and physical environment of a community.  While the benefits of tourism are readily recognized, tourism development also imposes costs and liabilities.  The trade-off between benefits and costs must be clearly understood and carefully evaluated.  Determining if tourism is right for your community requires planning.


A Final Word

This publication was designed to provide Texas community leaders with basic tourism development information.  Even though each community has its own situation locating potential attractiveness, community support, leadership, and financial capabilities (all essential tourism ingredients), the general planning guidelines described in this publication are applicable to all.

By now you understand the way tourism functions and how your community can benefit from it.  By understanding the market-destination principle, you recognize that your destination will appeal to specific markets.  It is no longer a matter of trying to catch tourists along the way.

Understanding that tourism is a system of interrelated parts (attractions, services, transportation, communications and markets) should help every segment of a community learn how it is related to all others.  Tourism calls for much greater integration and networking than any other industry.  When the lodging, food service, and transportation decision makers are more aware of the role of community attractions and attractiveness, they can foster needed improvements.  When governments and public agencies reach out to the commercial sector, regulations and tax programs can be more appropriate.  When governments and the business sector understand the vital role of the non-profit sector in tourism, many projects and programs for tourists can be improved.

All communities interested in tourism should set up a tourism development strategy with achievable and clearly understood objectives and a road map to reach them.  A series of planned steps, beginning slowly and building momentum, have the best chance of accomplishment.  While major changes may be needed in the long run, greater community cooperation will come from small and clearly visible accomplishments at the start.  The steps outlined here should make it clear that tourism development demands serious, community-wide commitment and competent, committed leadership¾little will be accomplished casually.

When one reviews the new market trends, the opportunities for tourism in Texas become more abundant.  The vast size and diversity of the state, its built-in markets, its exciting heritage, its easy access, and its tradition of accomplishing the difficult¾all promote Texas as a land of abundant opportunity for tourism development.  The economic and social rewards are reachable with careful planning, full commitment, and superior management.


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