Barriers to Sustainable Tourism Development in Peripheral Regions Introduction Peripheral regions are the areas that are isolated from the main region based on physical and human aspects. They may be geographically and economically different from the mainland and they experience numerous challenges that hamper regional growth. Accessibility is one of the aspects that determine growth in a particular region and the geographic location might not favor access to peripheral regions. This paper presents a critique of the major barriers to tourism development in peripheral regions. The features of peripheral regions and their relationship with tourism development have been discussed.
Recommendations have been made on how the barriers to tourism development in peripheral areas can be dealt with. Barriers to Tourism Development in Peripheral Regions The peripheral regions are usually located in remote areas of countries where people usually have no interest of settling or investing due to lack of the necessary amenities for such activities. The regions are also politically and economically marginalized since they lack the people needed to attract political establishments or allocations for development by the government (Toh et al.
2001). Brown (2000) notes that peripheral regions rely on conventional industries and therefore have low or no economic growth. However, in spite of the fact that they are remote under developed, they have attractive sceneries that are valuable for tourism. The population in such regions is usually aging due to migration of young people to the developed regions in search of employment. The people usually rely on information and technology from urban areas, which is scanty due to poor infrastructure. In most situations, it is usually difficult for them to belief that they are represented in the governance structures (Tosun, 2000). The peripheral regions have limited markets for their traditional products and therefore tourism is viewed as a major solution to the people’s financial needs.
They engage in small and medium businesses that can hardly satisfy the development needs. Consistency of activities in the regions is affected by seasonality (Henderson, 2001). For example, tourists usually visit such regions only during certain seasons of the year. The communities in these regions have limited education and the leaders stick to conventional beliefs such as gender differences and traditional norms (Tosun, 2000).
With the features of peripheral regions having been identified, the barriers that hamper tourist development can be understood. For example, with the residents of these areas feeling marginalized, they may not be willing to support tourism development. Tosun (2000) observes that they are likely to view outsiders negatively especially when the developments do not help them directly. This hampers planning for developments that are externally driven. When the locals do not have adequate representation in planning, they are likely to hamper tourism development even though they may not understand how global tourism operates.
Toh et al. (2001) observes that tourism developers in peripheral regions of Singapore and Japan have experienced difficulties in matching the development agendas with the local culture. The local people maintain that community interests must be addressed first before any developments can begin, which presents planners with difficulties of establishing infrastructure to support tourism. Organizing is also a major challenge for tourism development in peripheral areas. This is because there are various issues that have to be addressed such as environmental degradation resulting form development of tourist resorts as well as the socio-economic implications of these developments.
Henderson (2001) observes that tourism thrives in regions where other necessary amenities are offered by the government. Since the peripheral regions are marginalized in terms of national development, it is unlikely that facilities such as accommodation, security, hospitals, electricity, banking services and waste management facilities will be available for tourists. Unless if the planners integrate such facilities in the plan, tourist developments can not be accomplished. On the other hand it discourages developers if they will provide all the amenities due to the costs involved.
Toh et al. (2001) identified organizational difficulties where the government and the private sector do not cooperate for the success of tourist development in the peripheral regions of Singapore. Government bureaucracy also has a negative impact on tourism development due to the derailment of the decision making process. Leadership issues have also been cited as a hindrance to tourism development in peripheral regions, especially due to a conflict between the community leaders who hold on to conventional beliefs and the tourist planners whose leadership is focused on improving the livelihoods through establishing high-tech facilities that encourage tourism development while on the other hand providing employment for the locals.
Nevertheless, the drawbacks are expected by the tourism planners since the participation of the local communities in accomplishing the goals of tourism development is limited by virtue of their level of education and exposure to global tourism activities (Henderson, 2001). Local people can only participate in a few activities such as entertainment, and trade in traditional products.
They usually have no access to the large sums of money generated by tourism despite the creation of employment. Communities’ leaders in the peripheral regions may therefore tend to feel sidelined when earnings from local resources are shared and hence may not support tourism development (Tosun, 2000). Peripheral regions lack control of finances and therefore have no means of developing tourism. Due to the financial difficulties, the capital outlay for tourism development is usually meager and hence no meaningful investment can be made (Sharpley, 2002).
The major reason for lack of access to funds for developing the necessary infrastructure for tourism is failure to provide security for loans by local investors. The finances can therefore only be provided by external investors who have access to credit facilities. Moreover, supply of products and services is also undertaken by external investors who may stay or leave the business depending on the rate of return on their investments. In essence, investors engage in the business that gives them greater profits.
Peripheral regions therefore suffer from investors opting to pull out of the industry in favor of other promising regions, especially where there is political influence. The physical distance of peripheral areas also contributes to the high cost of transport, which translates to inflated overheads of importation. On the other hand, it is also difficult to export products from the regions due to the distance from the market. Tourism in the regions therefore becomes a costly engagement and tourists may decide to find alternative destinations that are cheaper (Prideaux, 2000). The situation is aggravated by political influence whereby different centers of power struggle to control the tourism policy.
These include the local politicians in such regions, the local authorities and the private sector. All are focused on the benefits that they will be derived from the tourism industry. This means that it is difficult to develop a tourism policy that encompasses all stake holders it becomes an issue of who is to benefit. Under such situations, wrangles emerge regarding tourism policies at the expense of the local communities that may benefit from better standards of living through creation of employment opportunities and improved infrastructure (Henderson, 2001). According to Sharpley (2002), North Cyprus is one of the peripheral regions that is favorable for tourism development in Europe but is not favored by policies that are developed under great political influence.
The region is isolated economically and politically and lacks the desired institutional authority that can support tourism. The existing political framework tends to be personalized to the extent that external investors shun from venturing in tourism development. Many other peripheral regions in developing countries are experiencing the same problems associated with conflict of interests (Henderson, 2001).
Conclusion The peripheral regions are usually isolated geographically, socio-economically and politically from other regions. They lack the appropriate infrastructure for tourism development. The regions lack proper organization leading to negative attitudes among the local communities especially due to lack of proper strategies to deal with the resultant stress on the environment as tourism increases waste and environmental degradation. Leadership issues are also a major drawback to tourism development. The regions lack finances and hence depend on foreign investors.
The physical distance increases the cost of trade due to the high expenses of importation and exportation. Political influence on tourism policies derails tourism development due to the struggle for control of tourism in the peripheral regions. It is recommendable that tourism planners adopt a multifaceted paradigm that integrates all stakeholders in tourism within the peripheral regions. All stakeholders need to ensure that they contribute positively towards tourism development regardless of the accrued benefits. In other words, they individualism needs to be replaced by open-mindedness and focus on community benefits.
The government can play a significant role in boosting tourism development through developing infrastructure while adopting an economic oriented strategy. For example, developing road network and communication can help to deal with the problem of distance. On the other hand private investors need to be encouraged through subsidies. They can utilize the infrastructure to enhance their investments. Leadership, planning and organizational issues can be solved through a community based approach whereby community members are involved in the planning process through their leaders to avoid the negative attitudes towards tourism development. References Brown, F.
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