Whole tourism systems : interdisciplinary perspectives on structures, functions, environmental issues and management : submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Management Systems, Faculty of Business Studies, Massey University
This study's two aims were to refine a model of tourism systems and to demonstrate the utility of interdisciplinary research based around that model. Tourism has been described and defined as a form of human behaviour, a market, an industry, a sector of the economy, and a system. The first concept in that list may be the most useful basis for scholarship on tourism; the others are associated phenomena. Tourism gives rise to whole tourism systems, arrangements of people (tourists), places (in their itineraries) and enterprising or service organisations (in the travel and tourism industry). Each whole system has an indeterminate number of sub-systems. Models of whole systems can be used as a higher order concept at the centre of interdisciplinary research into tourism, giving cohesion to what would otherwise be fragmented studies into facets of the field. This approach is applied, in the present study, to a range of topics.
The concepts of business and industry were reviewed, and applications in tourism investigated empirically. An organisation can be in a certain line of business but remain outside, or on the fringes of, the corresponding industry. Research supports the hypothesis that tourism tends to be partially industrialized, referring to a condition where only a portion of the organisations directly supplying tourists are in that specific industry. The partial industrialization of whole tourism systems has several implications that remain hidden by the conventional idea of assuming every tourist supplier to be in that industry.
A second topic was people as tourists. The model of whole tourism systems is useful for researching links between tourism, leisure and gambling.
A third topic presents a new statistical technique. The main destination ratio integrates data collected at two points in each whole tourism system: at the departure point from a traveller generating country and at arrival gateways in each destination country.
Japanese tourism is a topic that has been widely discussed elsewhere: its place in the present project was to demonstrate how a whole systems approach provides a means for a broad-based discussion on a given category of tourism.
Attractions seem synonymous with tourism, yet the topic has been under-researched to date. Attraction systems can be studied as a vital sub system in all whole tourism systems.
A vast literature is available on the environmental impacts of tourism. Almost all of it is concerned with impacts on the environments of places visited by tourists. A wider perspective is provided by considering whole systems in their environmental settings.
Complexities in managing a tourism system can be understood by contrasting two conditions, high and low levels of industrialization, and considering the impact of this variable on certain management issues in tourism. The issues discussed are seasonal variations, proliferating variety, marketing management's use of feedback, the adoption of a marketing concept.
This project adds to the belief that an interdisciplinary approach is useful for broad-based research on tourism. It may add credibility to the opinion that a distinct discipline, an organised body of knowledge, can be developed, to stand in the centre of mono-disciplinary methods for particular issues. Finally, a number of ideas for future research arose from this project, from each of its topics.