Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Changes in Tourist Arrivals in Tuscan Destinations between 2000 and 2013: A Group Based Trajectory Approach

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Changes in Tourist Arrivals in Tuscan Destinations between 2000 and 2013: A Group Based Trajectory Approach

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

The aim of this paper is to examine the development of tourist municipalities in Tuscany through a methodology to detect common growth curves from yearly time series of the number of arrivals. The analysed period starts in 2000 and ends in 2013. Though a mature destination, Tuscany consists of a large variety of tourist products (cultural tourism, spas, mountain resorts, coastal areas, religious sites etc.) due to its traditional, cultural and environmental resources. In fact, discovering and understanding similarities in tourist arrivals across local territories and over time can shed light on the different developmental phases of the various destinations, even when the time series is relatively short. Furthermore, geographical proximity should also be taken into account as it can play an important role.

Recently, a study of short time series of tourist arrivals was carried out in Gursoy et al. (2013), where the methodology of splines was used to detect common growth patterns. This paper follows the steps suggested in Gursoy et al. (2013) but apply a special approach of finite mixture modelling. More specifically, the work is carried out by:

(1) finding a criterion to detect common time patterns of arrivals across territories;

(2) classifying territories according to such similarities in patterns;

(3) verifying whether areas in the same group are also spatially contiguous.

Points (1) and (2) are accomplished through the application of the Latent Class Growth Analysis (LCGA) or Growth Based Trajectory Modeling (GBTM), a special case of the Growth Mixture Modelling or GMM (Muthén, 1989; Muthén and Muthén, 2000; Nagin, 1999; 2005). Point (3) is accomplished by means of a special test which compares the number of contiguous territories in the same cluster with the number that would occur in the case of randomness (Gursoy et al., 2013). The queen contiguity is chosen for this purpose. Point (3) aims to investigate the presence of any spatial homogeneity in the growth patterns across different areal units. The analysis is based on a partition into 262 areas derived from a partial aggregation of the original 287 municipalities of Tuscany (due to the occurrence of zeros and confidentiality issues).

The importance of studying the evolution of tourism at the administrative territorial level, and for all Tuscan municipalities, resides not only in scientific interest but is also based on two facts: one substantial and the other formal fact.

1) Because of the huge number of resources (artistic, cultural, environmental etc.) distributed throughout the entire territory, any municipality can potentially or effectively be a tourism destination; in fact, as we will see below, even marginal territories exhibit a systematic increase in the tourist accommodation facilities and tourist flows over time. Moreover, tourism is also promoted as a driver to develop and reinforce marginal areas and other economic activities (for example, agritourism is a source of relevant revenues for agriculture and rural areas).

2) For the regional government, any Tuscan municipality may apply a special overnight tax and, in this sense, be considered a tourist destination. The only requirement is that the municipality constitute a special tourist observatory to guarantee the management of tourism activities in a sustainable and competitive perspective, in compliance with the indications of the European Union (Dupeyras and MacCallum, 2013; European Commission, 2013; European Communities, 2006; 2006a) and the NECSTouR network (www.necstour.eu).

At the end of 2013, the tourist tax was applied in more than 201 of the 287 municipalities (Federalberghi, 2014). The Tuscany Region has provided special financial funds for the municipalities, in order to build the local Tourist Destination Observatory (TDO). The TDO project has also opened the way for the construction of a repertory of comparable data at a municipality level. …

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