Sustainable Tourism- A Prerequisite of Sustainable Development

This article will provide a brief overview about the historical background, importance, concepts, principles and general debates about sustainable tourism.Sustainable tourism is one of the pre-requisites of achieving sustainable development. the concept of tourism with sustainability and development gets its historical inclusion from mass tourism that got flourished in 1960s due to advent of jet aircraft and the passions for tourism got tremendous following and it also reached Third World countries (Dann, 2002). It was also argued that this boost pushed organizations like World Bank and UN to examine the cost benefit analysis of tourism and it was acknowledged that potential costs of tourism are far lower than financial benefits in shape of balance pf payment surpluses, infrastructure development, and employment and foreign exchange gains. So that gave rise to the concept of sustainable tourism as one of the source of bringing sustainable development. According to the World’s Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), it is claimed that Tourism is the world’s largest industry where in 2000, 698 million people travelled internationally which 7.3 % more than 1999. Similarly the economic worth of international tourism was US$477.9 billion in 2000 (Papers4you.com, 2006).

In terms of one concrete definition, literature suggests that it is not fixed and is ever evolving. However Coccossis (1996) asserts that sustainable tourism can be taken in four different interpretations that include” economic sustainability of tourism”, the “ecologically sustainable tourism”,” sustainable tourism development” with both focus of environment as well as long term feasibility of the industry and finally “tourism as a part of a strategy for sustainable development”.As mentioned above, sustainable tourism should be taken in consideration to environmental and resources effects. It was argued that Mediterranean tourism is the main source of economic gain for the reason however short term growth was overlooked with long term adverse effect and deterioration of their ecosystem and resources (Farsari, 2000)Effects of ignorant tourism on its sustainability include: ‘over consumption of natural resources ,environmental degradation, exploitation of cultures and labour, displacement of people from their land, lack of consultation with local communities, poorly thought out tourism planning and high foreign exchange leakage which reduces local economic benefits’ in long run (World’s Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002),Where such effects are there to pose a threat on sustainable tourism there are guiding principles that can lead to ensure sustainability (Papers4you.com, 2006). Those principles include sustainable use of resources, waste and over-consumption reduction, diversity maintenance, tourism-planning integration, local economy support as well as local community involvement, consultation, training, research and responsible marketing (Farsari, 2000)So the discussion suggest that tourism industry has potential to be a prerequisite for sustainable development, however it is imperative to realize that focus on mass tourism only can pose danger to environment so in order to ensure sustainability in tourism, guiding principles should be followedReferencesCoccossis, H. (1996) ‘Tourism and Sustainability: Perspectives and Implications’ in Priestley, G. et al. (eds), Sustainable Tourism? European Experiences, U.K.: Cab International
Dann, G, M, S, (2002), “Tourism & Development”, in Desai V and Potter, R. (eds) (2002), The Companion to Development Studies, London: Arnold,

Farsari, Y, (2000), ‘Sustainable Tourism Indicators for Mediterranean Established Destinations’, Heraklion: IACM & FORTHPapers For You (2006) “C/T/32. Sustainable travel & tourism”, Available from http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprttrav4.htm [22/06/2006]Papers For You (2006) “C/T/27. Sustainable Tourism Development”, Available from Papers4you.com [21/06/2006]World Summit on Sustainable Development, (2002), ‘Sustainable Tourism and the Earth Summit’, Briefing Paper, Aug 26-Sep 06, 2002, London: Tourism Concern. Also available on
http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/media/2002/WSSD%20sustainable%20tourism%20briefing.htm

Information Regarding Medical Tourism

The term Medical Tourism was initially coined by travel agencies for describing the practice of traveling abroad for medical treatment. This was done for obtaining the best and reasonable health care services outside the country. The services that are generally arranged by the professional agencies include complex professional surgeries like dental surgery, cosmetic surgery, cardiac surgery, joint replacement (knee/hip) and more. One can also directly contact the respective hospitals in countries like India, Mexico and Costa Rica for information through websites and respective medical center councilors. The patient has to provide their medical report to the service provider including the nature of illness, doctor’s opinion, diagnosis and complete medical history.

Certified medical consultants and doctors give their advice on the required treatment. The whole process of medical tourism includes the discussion of approximate expenditure, hospital choice, the tourist destination as well as the duration of their stay. Once the agreement and consent bond gets signed, the patient is provided with the recommendation letter to get a medical VISA. The patient has to procure it from the associated embassy. A case executive is always available with the patient to take care of the accommodation, and his treatment abroad. The health tourism is getting popular day by day due to several other reasons like long waiting list and expensive treatments.People of United States make the most out of this facility. The very first reason behind the increasing trend of medical tourism is its incredible savings. Depending upon the destination, the patient can expect to save a high percentage. Access to immediate excellent medical service and no waiting list is another wonderful benefit. The medical travel agencies commit to provide the quality treatment abroad. Several organizations come forward for this purpose. Most of these agencies and consultants are registered with world Medical Tourism Association. The patients have access to expert surgeons and latest technologies through the health tourism options. Other notable features adding into the popularity of this tourism service are longer hospital stay, convenience and travel opportunities at a very low cost.

For most of the Americans, minimal price is the main advantage of availing the medical tourism facilities. It is a fact that the USA health care costs are generally higher than the total traveling expensive. For instance, the hip replacement surgery costs nearly $40,000 to $60,000 in USA whereas it is about $3,000 to $4,000 overseas in countries like Thailand and India. Moreover, in 2011, it was revealed that 161 million people in USA were either uninsured or under-insured. This is the reason behind why the American health system is getting competition from developing countries. It failed to meet the medical requirements of the Americans. These are the few reason of ever increasing popularity of Medical Tourism in developed countries like USA.

Caribbean Destination’s Tourism Competitiveness Under Review

Amidst the world economic crisis, the previously obscure term, competitiveness, has become a mainstream word. Which is not surprising, because in times like these, consumers naturally become more cost-conscious.Ask any tourist what makes a destination competitive and they will probably come up with something like “being a good value” – in other words, providing a satisfactory travel experience for a fair price.But for tourism industry professionals, it’s not quite so simple. For a tourist destination to be competitive, they maintain, it must first be sustainable. And sustainability goes far beyond satisfying the tourists to insure that they keep coming back. A sustainable destination must satisfy many other stakeholders, including the local community, the environment, the hoteliers, the service providers and the government.With 4 million air arrivals per year, half a million cruise ship visitors and over 60,000 hotel rooms – the Dominican Republic is the leading island destination in the Caribbean.As such, it might be assumed to have a competitive tourist industry. But the local leaders are not taking this for granted. In fact, they have created a wide network of regional tourism clusters whose job it is to identify the constraints that may compromise the long term development of the industry, and to work with the government and the local communities to implement possible solutions.

The nine existing tourism clusters – a few more are being formed — are grouped under the Dominican Federation for Tourism Competitiveness (whose Spanish acronym is CDCT), headed by hotelier, Mr. Rafael Collado.In his welcome speech at the recent Dominican Tourism Competitiveness Forum (FODATUR) held in the nation’s capital, Mr. Collado alluded to the challenges being faced by the country’s tourism industry, stressing that while some of them – like the state of the global economy and volatility in oil and commodity prices – are beyond its control, others are entirely manageable, and it was the event’s goal to put them on the agenda and map out a realistic action plan.The event, which lasted for two days, gathered over a dozen of the most brilliant minds in tourism from Latin America, Spain and the USA, in addition to the Dominican Republic. A sizable group of industry professionals, hoteliers, travel agents, lawyers, consultants and public officials attended.On the subject of competitiveness indicators, the delegate from the University of Monterrey, Mexico, explained his country’s highly sophisticated method of assessment. A territory’s tourism competitiveness – relative to other territories – is measured by giving numerical values to a wide number of variables.The methodology is so thorough that it covers 112 different variables grouped into 10 categories: cultural activities and resources, natural resources and protection of the environment, human resources and education, hotel industry infrastructure and professionalization, tourist flows and means of transportation, tourism support services, public safety and protection, profitability and economic aspects, tourism promotion, and governmental support and efficiency.The CDCT vowed to seek support for the development of a similar evaluation tool in the Dominican Republic.It was pointed out, furthermore, that one of the nation’s challenges is the lack of a modern tourism law. A new bill that would put the D.R. on par with other Latin American countries had recently been drafted and delivered to the Minister of Tourism by a committee headed by the tour operators association. In a joint declaration, the participants urged the Minister to give the bill his full support and submit it to Congress without delay.

Yet another highlight were the concurrent workshops, where the group was split into round tables to discuss the main issues on the tourism competitiveness agenda and to suggest solutions. Topics included: environment, hotels, airlines, ocean travel, health and safety, tour guides, education, marketing and tourism clusters, among others.Each table was headed by an authority on the subject matter. Many new ideas emerged, and the CDCT made a commitment to discuss the conclusions with the competent authorities, reach agreements, and monitor their implementation.The annual event was sponsored by various public and private sector organizations and businesses, primarily the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has been the main catalyst behind the creation and development of the cluster concept in the Dominican Republic.

Save On Your Medical Bills With Medical and Health Tourism?

Many times you may have listened new stories about the rising trend of medical tourism in developed countries. Medical Patients move around the globe to find medical procedures for getting an appropriate solution to their health related needs. One must have health insurance since traveling to a foreign country seems like paying less if there’s a real chance for good quality and affordable health-care.Find out exactly about medical tourism and health tourism means for an person?Let us discuss more about Medical tourism and Health care Tourism?The word “medical and health tourism” refers to people who travel abroad to developing countries like India, Mexico and Cost Rica for any sort of medical treatment and care. Before, medical tourists were generally wealthy and affluent patients looking for some health treatments that were not available in their own country.However, today it is seen that medical patients favor traveling to other countries in an effort to control the costs of their medical care. Looking at the medical costs incurred in the treatment, patients find it much reasonable to pay the travel costs and travel abroad for their care. This helps in reducing the costs involved in the treatment. For example, if an Indian hospital charges $10,000 for an open-heart surgery, this surgery costs around $30,000 in UK and $100,000 in U.S. Looking at the potential savings, this do not surprises at all.

Additionally, patients have to wait for long to get treated in U.S. Sometimes, a major surgery is planned for coming few weeks and sometimes even days. Some of the most popular medical tourism destinations are Singapore, Thailand, India, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and South Africa.To avail the benefits of health tourism, certain things need to be considered beforehand. For instance,
a. The Person should be healthy enough to travel abroad for getting the treatment done.
b. The individual must calculate the complete cost of treatment including the traveling expenses.
c. The individual should have some health insurance coverage for the treatment or procedure. Also, your health insurance might not cover foreign treatment.
d. The individual should inquire completely about the medical tourism provider including the details of the doctors and facilities there.There is no doubt that medical tourism might save a lot of money, but you must not ignore the possible risks involved in it.The most important thing to consider is Licensing and Certification. The person should inspect about the credentials of the physician who will treat you.Do confirm whether the hospital and services you are considering have received authorization parallel to what you may find in the United States. For Americans, the recognized accreditation group is the Joint Commission International (JCI). It is the international arm of the Joint Commission in the U.S. and a non-profit organization that accredits U.S. hospitals. Most of the hospitals which serve international patients have already obtained JCI accreditation in an effort to attract more American patients.

You should not miss consider the worst case scenario that may occur. If things go wrong, you may find yourself in a foreign country without any ability to seek compensation for malpractice.The person should look for hospitals that allow enough follow-up and recovery time as your medical tourism consultant may not tell at the initial stage and is just in the business of getting patients in and out quickly. In such scenarios, required follow-up care is not provided after the treatment. Traveling too soon after surgery may cause serious complications.The person should have exposure to disease and have built up the immunity required in case of weakened individuals. Some countries, such as India, Malaysia, or Thailand have very different infectious disease-related epidemiology to Europe and North America.

Tourism Social Media – The Need For Experiential Content

Tourism is out of the ordinary day activities of normal life. It is saved for, anticipated and remembered for years to come after the holiday is over. But what are they remembering… the hotel, the flight, the airline? Maybe…the experience…definitely. Tourism is experiential based.So what attracts the potential customer to your product, service or activity? When they visit your website or read your printed marketing material, what is it that sways the decision to use your business over your competitors? The importance of having well designed marketing material, whether online or offline, and a level of integration and synergy between them cannot be argued. However, content is king. What does your content say to your potential customers? Is it generic marketing text that is not targeted to the behaviour and language of the target markets you are attempting to serve?The use of images, photos and videos is essential in the tourism industry, where experience is everything. Interactive media formats are the perfect medium for telling the story, rising emotive decision making processes in consumers and creating a virtual sense of demand. The use of colloquial, descriptive, emotional and experiential text is just as important in spurring the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for consumers to purchase your products and services, or at least qualify your offerings to be in the final decision set.

Social media offers all tourism businesses the perfect platform to share and promote the experiential based tourism product through the use of interactive mediums. Image sites such as Flickr and video sites such as YouTube are obvious sites to utilise. Although not considered as a pure social media tool, these sites have developed over the past several years to include interactive and communication capabilities that are conducive to social networking. However, these could be considered the first steps of social media. In comparison to sites such as Twitter or Facebook which require a constant level of activity as far as engaging with the audience, Flickr and YouTube can be used simply as a platform for presenting interactive media about your business, the activities, accommodation, customers enjoying their EXPERIENCE. There is the option to engage with other like mined people and current and potential clients though the joining of groups, engaging with conversations and participating in the community – but it is not as essential in other social media platforms. And for this reason, these platforms are the perfect place to start for the novice, even the sceptical tourism operator to dabble with social media.Here is a simple example of how an activity based tourism operator could utilise either Flickr or YouTube (or both) to build the visibility of their business, utilise experiential based marketing mediums, create a valued personal level of customer service and engage in a basic level of viral marketing: Let’s take the case of a four-wheel drive motorcycle operation. When the customer purchases or attends the activity, get their email address. Before, during and after the activity, take lots of photos and/or videos (basic digital camera is all that you need). Once the activity has finished for the day, upload the photos/videos from the camera to your Flickr/Youtube site – then email the customer saying thank you for using us and having a great time and inform them that you have posted photos/videos of them enjoying their experience.

This proactive level of customer support will impress the customer, leading to greater levels of satisfaction – developing a brand ambassador who will surely create a level of word of mouth marketing for you. But it doesn’t stop there – the customer will then view their photos/videos on the sites, they will have their experience rekindled and be likely to email and tell their friends of their experiences and direct them to the URL address where the photo is held – your Flickr and YouTube sites. Now you have the start of a viral marketing campaign, where the customer’s friends are viewing the photos/videos and spreading the word about your business.If you are a tourism operator attempting to gain a greater market share, identifying methods to increase customer satisfaction and support and want to start engaging with social media, implement an experiential and emotional strategy to your online and offline marketing mediums – increase the use of experiential based photos and videos, utilise descriptive text and consider utilising some of the most basic social media tools to promote your business and brand.