Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Euro-Med as a Market-Driven Regionalisation: Measuring the Role of Tourism Transnational Companies in Integrating European and North African Markets

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Euro-Med as a Market-Driven Regionalisation: Measuring the Role of Tourism Transnational Companies in Integrating European and North African Markets

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the number of regional trade agreements (RTA) has dramatically increased, jumping from 27 in 1990 to more than 400 up to 2010 (Beckouche, 2011). Even if the majority of these agreements are bilateral ones, and as a result, the global mapping of RTAs is still a "spaghetti ball", great regions have been emerging through institutionalized association (EU, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, ECOWAS, etc.). Most of the latter associate countries whose levels of development are comparable. However, in parallel of this phenomenon, a new type of regional economic cooperation appeared with the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Mexico, Canada and the United States in 1992. NAFTA was the first North-South regional agreement, i.e. the first which implied unequally developed economies. A few years after, the Euro-Med agreement of the Barcelona Process (1995) and then the ASEAN+3 initiative (1997) consolidated the hemispheric cooperation between industrialized countries and their southern neighbours, according to a core-periphery pattern.

These processes take part into a broader manifestation of "regionalisation of the globalization" (Beckouche, 2008; 2011). In fact, the evolutions of global economic trends reveal that international trade keeps turning regional: in 2011, the part of intra-regional trade was at 48% in the Americas, 55% in Asia-Oceania and 72% in Europe-CIS (Uzal, 2014). Tourism is also a highly regionalized activity. In the Southern Mediterranean countries for instance (from Turkey to Morocco), around 90% of inbound arrivals were coming from European Union or other southern Mediterranean countries in 2009 according to UNWTO (2011). The part of tourism in regionalisation has been highlighted by many authors (Shaw & Williams, 1998; Teo, 2001; Cochrane, 2008). Surprisingly, although they played a critical role in establishing the broad structures of international tourism, the role of tourism TNCs in regionalisation is an issue which has been seldom explored by economic geography (Weigert, 2013). Yet it has been the case for manufacturing transnational companies (TNCs). Many authors have taken an interest in the part transnational systems of production in regional integration, emphasizing the fact that North-South regionalisation proceeds fore and foremost, even if not exclusively, from a market-driven integration governed by private actors, e. g. by lead firms involved in global production networks (Ohmae, 1996; Langhammer, 1996; Bevan & Estrin, 2000; Barba Navaretti & Venables, 2004; Capling & Nossal, 2008; Gereffi & Mayer, 2010).

Whereas "regulatory regionalism" studies have been focusing on the institutional governance of regionalisation (Hameiri & Jayasuriya, 2011), viewing regulation as a government-driven process and regional integration as a result of international public cooperation (Haufler, 2003), this paper offers an insight into alternative forms of regional integration governance, in particular at a North-South scale. The main purpose of this manuscript is to present an original methodology for measuring the key-role tourism TNCs play in the market-driven dynamics of unequally developed economies. By considering TNCs as global production systems, it is possible to focus the analytical methodology on inter-firm linkages between the home companies and the indigenous firms established in the southern markets. After specifying the self-regulation process through which tourism TNCs manage these linkages, the approach consists in exploring whether regulatory transfers occurring throughout the North-South network of production entail a market-driven regulation convergence. In a second phase, the paper will set out the spatial outcomes of tourism TNCs-driven integration in the specific case of Tunisia and Morocco, where European TNCs act as major players of the tourism regionalisation.

Theoretical framework: TNCs and North-South integration

Regional integration is a product of many forces and drivers (Mattli, 1999), but one of the primary incentives has to do with economics, in particular in the North-South schemes (Beckouche, 2008). …

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