Academic journal article Journal of Global Business and Technology

Border-Area Tourism and International Attractions: Benefit Dimensions and Segments

Academic journal article Journal of Global Business and Technology

Border-Area Tourism and International Attractions: Benefit Dimensions and Segments

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This research identifies areas of economic, experiential and logistical enhancement that will lead to increased visits to and expenditures at international attractions by border-area tourists. Dimensions shown to be salient to these cross-border travellers' decisions include value (the combined consideration of price and quality issues), informational and experiential (relevant media exposure and the affective, service and variety elements of the travel experience), and practical considerations associated with the border crossing (traffic and customs enforcement). Two benefit segments emerge (value and experiential). Value appears to have a ceiling effect when it comes to investments in value delivery for cross-border visitors. However, value-based strategies may be the most efficient route to attracting those of this large segment who are not yet satisfied with this aspect of cross-border travel. The Experiential segment, though smaller, is highly susceptible to improvements in communication, service, variety, and the affective aspects of the foreign-travel experience.

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to explore the factors that will keep those on whom international tourist attractions rely for the greater share of their revenue coming back for more. Based on a survey of consumers in the North American border region that is home to one of the world's top natural attractions - Niagara Falls - it attempts to identify areas of economic, experiential and logistical enhancement that will lead to increased visits to and expenditures at tourist venues. Whether such an effort is of value or merely foolhardy, given Wilkinson's (2009) assertion that "predicting the future of tourism is akin to predicting the future of a 'mess,'" we will leave to our readers to determine.

Statistically and anecdotally, evidence of the challenges confronting tourism managers abounds. In the United States, the number of tourist arrivals declined 20 percent, or more than 10 million, in the early years following the 9/11 attack, and did not again reach the 2000 level of more than 51 million until 2007 (NationMaster.com). By 2009, tourist travel to the United States was again down - 6.3 percent from the prior year (ITA 2010). In neighboring Canada, tourist arrivals fell 15 percent between 2002 and 2008, showing declines each year except from 2003 to 2004 (NationMaster.com). Even South Africa, which, with the early growing pains of the post-apartheid era behind it, had experienced modest to substantial growth in tourist arrivals most years in the first decade of this century (NationMaster.com), was feeling the effect of the global economic downturn as this decade began. Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) reported "a reluctance on the part of hard hit consumers to travel long distances" (Weekend Post 2010). As a consequence, the Garden Route, "long hailed as the tourism mecca of the country," experienced a dearth of international visitors and "was not among the top performers . . . when it came to attracting international tourists last year." Such results are hardly unique to North America and South Africa.

Does the fall-off of long-distance tourism need to spell financial catastrophe for attractions relying on international tourism revenues? A glimpse at where the bulk of those revenues come from, even in more prosperous economic times, suggests it may not. Xu, Yuan, Gomez and Fridgen (1997) compared shortdistance (within 250 miles or about 400 kilometers), medium-distance (251 to 500 miles or approximately 400 to 800 kilometers) and long-distance travelers (more than 500 miles or 800 kilometers) to attractions in the border state of Michigan in Midwestern United States. They found that "frequent or repeat travelers are more likely to be those who reside within a 500 mile radius from a travel destination than those who reside some distance from the destination" (p. 103). The South African experience appears to be similar; the CTRU indicated that "91% of visitors to the Garden Route and Kelin Karoo were domestic travelers," with 60% coming "from within the Western Cape" (Weekend Post 2010). …

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