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The Year That Was 2009

New year, new beginnings?

Dr. Peter Tarlow, Tourism & More, Inc.  Dec 29, 2009

The dawn of a new year almost always means hopes for a better year than the year that has just passed. In the world of travel and tourism, there is every reason to be full of hope, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on possible danger points. Below are several trends that may impact everyone in travel and tourism.

Despite the industry’s best marketing techniques, the public will continue to be aware of the threat of terrorism. Terrorism did not go away with in 2009. In fact, there is every reason to believe that its negative impact on tourism will increase throughout the world. Hot spots to watch are Oceania, much of Europe and the Middle East and possibly North America. Furthermore, tourism and travel have not dealt seriously or efficiently with the terrorism problem. Too many tourism professionals still believe that if they do not confront it, it will go away. This ostrich-like attitude has made tourism vulnerable and many of its sites extremely soft targets.

Crime will become a focus for tourism destinations such as the Caribbean and Latin America. Crimes against tourists such as “express kidnappings,” robbery and all forms of assaults are a major social ill throughout much of the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America. Eventually, this crime wave will have an extremely negative impact on many of these lands that depend on tourism as their major source of income.

The potential for mini-wars has increased and with it the tourism industry will have to face new challenges. Because tourists can easily change plans, the outbreak of short-term regional wars, similar to last year’s war in the Middle East, means that tourism industries around the world will need to show greater flexibility and demonstrate a concern for tourism safety. Those places that ignore security will continue to see a downward spiral in the tourism dollars.

Tourism centers will place more emphasis on customer service. One of the positive developments in the world of travel and tourism is that many in the industry have come to realize that without tourists and travelers their business will die. Customer service in many parts of the world has improved dramatically. Even airlines, which have become famous for lack of customer service, have come to realize that smiling and a friendly hello are good business moves.

Tourism locales are beginning to diversify their product. The old idea of having one tourism product, such as “sun and sand,” is now giving way to the realization that due to changing weather patterns and cultural tastes; tourism centers must develop a bouquet of tourism products. These include not only multi-category hotels but also a greater variety of attractions.

Tourism will continue to see an increase in private-public partnerships. The industry is becoming so complex that entrepreneurs and government officials will have to learn to work together to compete in the international world of tourism. Nation governments will have to be more involved in marketing their destinations. Entrepreneurs will have to develop innovative attractions. Tourism professionals will have to develop new and deeper relationships with local law enforcement and private security companies.

Tourism officials will have to increase their academic standards and training if they want to compete. For all too long tourism was not seen as a serious subject. If tourism is to keep its place as the world’s largest industry, it will need people who are sophisticated and multi-lingual. It will also need people who can think outside of their cultural confines. For example, in the field of tourism security it is essential that tourism security specialists look not only at the security risks at their own property or business but the environment in which the business lives.

In an age of international tourism, health and health risks will become a major challenge. This is especially true of the third world nations, many of which are dependent on tourism dollars. The coming year presents all too many health threats that can destroy a tourism industry.

The new year can be one of great tourism and travel successes, but in order for these successes to occur the industry will have to face hard realities, plan carefully and join with academics, tourism experts, and others in creative partnership. To fail to do so, to run from reality will not only hurt the industry as a whole, but millions of people whose livelihoods depend on travel and tourism.

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is president of Tourism & More Inc, College Station Texas. Tourism & More specializes in all aspects of security and marketing for the tourism and hospitality industries. You can reach Peter Tarlow via email at or at telephone +1-979-764-8402.

New year, new beginnings?
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