Recent conceptual work on tourism destination competitiveness has proposed a comprehensive approach that adds industry-level competitiveness attributes to more conventional tourism destination attributes. This study builds on these ideas by generating sets of both attributes, developing a methodology for assessing their relative importance and examining the degree to which their relative importance varies across locations. Survey data were gathered from tourism industry practitioners in three closely competing destinations in Asia Pacific and were subjected to statistical testing.
The results provide strong empirical support for the inclusion of both industry-level and destination attributes in studies of tourism competitiveness. The results also question approaches to competitiveness that assume that the relative importance of attributes is common across locations, suggesting, rather, that the importance of competitiveness attributes may vary across locations, depending on product mix and target market segments, especially in complex, multifaceted industries such as tourism. Keywords: destination competitiveness; industry and destination factors; comparison across destinations
Competitiveness is increasingly being seen as a critical influence on the performance of tourism destinations in competitive world markets. At a general level, industry competitiveness has become an established topic for researchers, policy makers, and practitioners, having expanded considerably since the publication of Michael Porter’s (1990) wellknown work. Tourism destination competitiveness, in particular, is becoming an area of growing interest among tourism researchers (see particularly Crouch and Ritchie 1999; see also Chon and Mayer 1995; Faulkner, Oppermann, and Fredline 1999; d’Hauteserre 2000; Hassan 2000).
Pearce (1997, p. 25) considers that “at a time when tourism worldwide is becoming increasingly competitive . . . all insights into the development, strengths, and weaknesses of competing destinations will become even more crucial. ” Ritchie and Crouch 2000 (p. 6) consider destination competitiveness to have “tremendous ramifications for the tourism industry and [it] is therefore of considerable interest to practitioners and policy makers. ” Dwyer, Forsyth, and Rao (2000, p. 10) reinforce this view, stating that it is “useful for the industry and government to understand where a country’s competitive position s weakest and strongest” and, hence, that it is important to know how and why competitiveness is changing. Crouch and Ritchie’s (1999) approach to destination competitiveness is among the best known of recent attempts to conceptualize an approach that includes elements of tourism competitiveness and industry competitiveness, and this has undergone a number of iterations since its earliest public presentation (Ritchie and Crouch 1993). Their approach extends previous, pioneering studies, such as Pearce’s (1997) technique of “competitive destination analysis,” hich was proposed as a technique for systematically comparing diverse attributes of competing destinations, drawing attention to the need for comparisons across competitors. These approaches also extend mainstream research focused principally on destination image or attractiveness (see Chon, Weaver, and Kim 1991; Hu and Ritchie 1993). Such studies are part of a long tradition of destination image research (see Gearing, Swart, and Var 1974 through to Gallarza, Saura, and Garcia 2002) and in keeping with that tradition have concentrated on those attributes that are seen to attract visitors, uch as climate, scenery, and accommodation. While tourism services in general are recognized as being important elements of destination image or product (Murphy, Pritchard, and Smith 2000), it is less common in destination image research to pay explicit attention to the firms that supply the services and to the factors that may affect the competitiveness of these firms. By including such additional factors, Crouch and Ritchie (1999) are proposing an approach that is, arguably, more comprehensive than mainstream approaches to destination attractiveness analysis. This article builds on the prior conceptualizations of
Crouch and Ritchie (particularly Crouch and Ritchie 1999, but see also Ritchie, Crouch, and Hudson 2001), to argue that a proper understanding of destination competitiveness requires, in addition to destination or tourism-specific factors, the inclusion of such factors that affect the competitiveness of firms and other organizations involved in producing the tourism “product. ” In other words, a destination is competitive if it can attract and satisfy potential tourists, and this competitiveness is determined both by tourism-specific factors and a much wider range of factors that influence the tourism service providers.
This study addresses the lack of empirical testing to date of such an approach, despite its seeming potential. Pearce (1997) points to the few studies that systematically examine competing destination attributes and the lack of such studies in both the literature and practical application. The initial aim of this study, therefore, was to operationalize the expanded approach and to do so in such a way that the relative importance of a broad set of competitiveness attributes could be determined. Hence, the perceived importance of the additional business factors, not usually captured in mainstream tourism attractiveness studies, ould be compared to the importance of the mainstream attractiveness factors and a broader profile of the determinants of destination competitiveness could be developed. Perhaps more critically, however, by implementing the research in more than a single destination, this study also addresses the issue of whether measures of competitiveness are universal with respect to location. The question is whether the same determinants have the same relative importance in different destinations. If so, then information from a single location can be used to understand and assess competitiveness across multiple locations and competitiveness at different estinations can be compared directly. However, if the relative importance varies across locations, then a more complex view must be taken—otherwise, there is the risk that incorrect comparisons may be made. In other words, if what is important for one destination is not important for another destination, policy recommendations and managerial actions based on a universalist assumption could lead to unwanted consequences. In this initial exploration of this issue, the sample for the study was restricted to three broadly similar destinations so as to minimize possible variations across locations.
Each of the destinations was therefore selected from the same geographical region, though in different countries, and the destination type (Abe 1996) was urban tourism. The study should thus contribute both to specific research on tourism destination competitiveness and also to research into industry-level competitiveness, partly by offering a methodology for operationalizing the expanded approach to destination competitiveness and more so by exploring the issue of universality in competitiveness research. The results should also be of value to managers and policy makers for a number of reasons.
First, the results identify a broader, and potentially more comprehensive, set of determinants of destination competitiveness than are generally offered by conventional destination attractiveness research. Second, they show the relative importance of the determinants through quantitative measures developed in the study. Third, they raise practical issues that must be addressed when applying measures of competitiveness to competing destinations.
A generally accepted definition of international competitiveness from a national perspective is the degree to which a ation can produce goods and services that meet the test of international markets while simultaneously maintaining or expanding the real incomes of its citizens (Waheeduzzman and Ryans 1996). There exist diverse ways of thinking about the topic, with the result that it may be considered a multifaceted, and possibly confusing, concept. Attempts to conceptualize and analyze international competitiveness have come from a variety of different academic disciplines, including economics, management, and politics and culture, each with its own perspective on the subject. From the perspective of economics come two broad strands.
One, rooted in the literature on comparative advantage, focuses on price as the dominant driver of international competitiveness and hence performance in international trade. The second views competitiveness as a multidimensional concept, depending on factors such as technology, capital, labor skills, management and organization, and government policy, among other things. While this second strand of economic analysis views competitiveness from a country perspective, the management literature views the firm as the competitor and hence focuses on a range of organizational and management variables. From this perspective, ational competitive advantage, therefore, is dependent on such factors as firm-specific resources and variables, organizational structure, and competitive environment and strategy. Other views are derived from the field of international relations, where the political and economic power of the state is seen as a key determinant of competitiveness. Last, sociocultural studies relate aspects of national culture to national economic outcomes (Waheeduzzman and Ryans 1996). The study of competitiveness, and its role in national policy making, has produced a lively debate in the literature, with Paul Krugman (1994a) among the leading critics (see
Prestowitz et al. 1994; Krugman 1994b). Krugman’s criticisms are focused on the contention that nations compete in the same way that firms compete, and his wide-ranging critique attacks this concept, the empirical evidence for national competition, and the policies that follow from what he terms “a dangerous obsession” (1994a, p. 28). Given the multifaceted nature of competitiveness, as discussed above, however, Krugman’s critique has itself been criticized as collapsing all approaches into a single notion and thus of being less relevant to certain specific conceptualizations and approaches Rapkin and Strand 1995). Porter (1990), in particular, whose approach includes aspects of both the multidimensional strand of economics together with an emphasis on the management and strategy field, focuses not on the competition between national economies but rather on the competition between, and competitiveness of, specific industries in different locations. The present study is therefore consistent with Porter’s approach, taking as its central focus the competitiveness of one specific industry in a number of different national locations.
This study builds primarily on the conceptual developments of Crouch and Ritchie (1999) and the core concept that generic industry-level attributes should be included, as well as the mainstream tourism destination’s attractiveness attributes. In developing the model, Crouch and Ritchie (1999) build on Michael Porter’s (1990) “diamond of national competitiveness. ” De Holan and Phillips (1997, p. 781) also explicitly recommend the inclusion of Porter’s framework, particularly when examining tourism in developing countries. They contend that for “countries like Cuba, the xistence of world-class ‘sun and sand’ provides a basis for competitiveness in tourism, but it does not guarantee development or success in the tourism industry. Other factor conditions such as human resources, infrastructure and capital, and the other three determinants that make up the diamond stand as potential barriers to development. ” Porter’s (1990) four-part framework, which was based on research undertaken in eight advanced and two newly industrialized countries, postulates that success in international competition in a given industry depends on the relative trength of an economy in a set of business-related features or “drivers” of competitiveness, namely, factor conditions, demand conditions, related and supporting industries, and firm strategy, structure, and rivalry specifically related to the industry. Government and chance are viewed as influencing competitiveness through their impact on the four basic determinants. This framework, or variations thereof, has been used in a number of studies of industries and individual economies (Crocombe, Enright, and Porter 1991; and Enright, Frances, and Scott-Saavedra 1996, for example).
In more ecent conceptual developments, Enright, Scott, and Dodwell (1997) proposed an alternative framework that divides the drivers of competitiveness into six categories, namely, inputs, industrial and consumer demand, interfirm competition and cooperation, industrial and regional clustering, internal organization and strategy of firms, and institutions, social structures, and agendas. Crouch and Ritchie (1999, p. 146) incorporated concepts of such generic models to derive a model that postulates that tourism destination competitiveness is determined by four major components: core resources and attractors, supporting actors and resources, destination management, and qualifying determinants. As Ritchie and Crouch (2000) comment, the model is constantly evolving. To the earlier iteration, a fifth element, destination policy, planning, and development, was added. Common to all iterations is the element of core resources and attractors, which includes the primary elements of destination appeal. It is these “that are the fundamental reasons that prospective visitors choose one destination over another” (Crouch and Ritchie 1999, p. 146). These core resources and attractors constitute the primary lements of destination appeal and include physiography, culture and history, market ties, activities, special events, and the tourism superstructure. Physiography embraces landscape and climate, market ties includes linkages with the residents of tourism originating regions, and the tourism superstructure is comprised primarily of accommodation facilities, food services, transportation facilities, and major attractions. With the exception of market ties, therefore, these factors are consistent with mainstream destination attractiveness studies (see Kim 1998; Gallarza, Saura, and Garcia 2002).
The other elements of the model however are more consistent with the generic industry-level approach to competitiveness. Supporting factors and resources include accessibility, entrepreneurship, communications infrastructure, local transportation infrastructure, and other inputs provided by public services, institutions (financial, education, and research), and the principal factors of production. Destination management includes destination promotion, service levels, information systems, the organization of destination management activities, and resource stewardship (the sustainable use of ecological, social, or cultural resources).
Qualifying determinants include safety, location, interdependencies within and between destinations, and cost (interpreted in a broad sense to include inter destination travel, local living costs, and exchange rate effects). Finally, destination policy, planning, and development include system definition, philosophy, vision, audit, positioning, development, competitive/collaborative analysis, monitoring, and evaluation. In summary, by adding generic business-related factors, captured within the supporting factors, destination management, qualifying determinants, and destination policy, planning, nd development, to the tourism-specific factors captured in the core resources and attractors, Crouch and Ritchie’s (1999) approach differs from, and advances, other studies that focus primarily on models of the tourist product or destination image (see also Schroeder 1996; Formica 2002). The use of both tourism-specific and generic determinants also differs from work on tourism competitiveness that used Porter’s (1990) basic framework but paid only limited attention to more tourism-specific elements (e. g. , Go, Pine, and Yu 1994).
The study has the potential, therefore, to offer a more comprehensive assessment of the factors that influence a destination’s capability to attract and satisfy its tourism customers. It is perhaps not surprising that this expanded, and potentially more comprehensive, approach to tourism destination competitiveness has yet to be tested empirically, given its relatively recent conceptualization. With the aims of developing measures of the relative importance of this more comprehensive set of determinants and exploring whether the ubsequent ranking of relative importance is universal across destinations, it was therefore necessary to generate a set of ratings for the importance of the relevant attributes in a sample of locations and to test the results statistically for variances in the ratings across locations. A sample of three destinations in the Asia Pacific region was chosen for this study. Asia Pacific was considered an interesting and relevant location for the study in no small part because of the growth and share of global tourism arrivals within the region. Between 1990 and 2000, the average annual growth rate of arrivals in Asia Pacific was 6. % per year, almost double the world average of 3. 9%. Tourism receipts in the region grew at an average yearly rate of 7. 1%, well in excess of the world average growth rate of 5. 5% (Pacific Asia Travel Association 2003). The region’s share of world arrivals rose from 12% in 1990 to 16% in 2000, and its share of global tourism receipts increased from 15% in 1990 to 17% in 2000 (World Tourism Organization 2000). The World Trade Organization has forecast that by 2020, Asia Pacific will overtake the Americas to become the world’s second largest tourism region, as measured by arrivals, after Europe (World Tourism Organization 2002).
Given the relative performance of the industry in Asia Pacific, an analysis of the competitiveness of regional destinations should offer valuable insights. Similarly, an improved understanding of competitiveness should be important for destinations in the region as it may contribute to maintaining or improving market share in a changing global market. Among the major destinations in the region, China is the unrivalled market leader, followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. The sheer vastness of China, however, renders it a complex and hence problematic case for nalysis, especially at this early stage of the development of the methodology. Hong Kong, by contrast, ranks second in the region with an 11. 9% market share of tourist arrivals in 2001 and offers a more compact and manageable case and was therefore chosen as the lead case study. To draw inferences regarding the degree to which the importance of attributes is universal, only close competitors were considered for this study, on the expectation that this would generate similar results.
It was anticipated that this approach would be a precursor to future work on more distant competitors, work that ould explore more fully the issue of variations in the importance of competitiveness attributes. Methodology To generate the desired empirical data, a survey instrument was constructed itemizing the factors that were postulated to influence the competitiveness of tourism destinations. This was done by generating a set of tourism-specific items based, in the first instance, on the core resources and attractors and a set of generic business factors. As the business factors are more developed in the competitiveness literature than in the tourism literature, greater reliance was laced on the former in developing the specific items in this set. In developing the set of tourism-specific items, it was recognized that no universal set of items exists, even within the abundant literature on tourism destination attractiveness or image. Kim’s (1998, p. 343) summary of previous research into destination attractiveness indicates clearly the variety of items adopted by researchers in the field, although some items are common to many approaches. The tourism “attractors” derived directly from Crouch and Ritchie’s (1999) core resources and attractors (and shown in Figure 1) were equally consistent with such approaches.
Given that the sample for this study was restricted to broadly similar destinations, and that the selected type of destination was the city, a further review was considered appropriate, and more detailed items were added from prior studies of specifically urban destinations (Jansen-Verbeke 1986; Law 1993), as Figure 1 also shows. Crouch and Ritchie (1999, p. 148) recognize that in the construction of their model, there may be ambiguities in classifying some items. This was particularly so with the tourism superstructure, where the authors note that such items as accommodation and transportation could equally fall within he “supporting factors. ” Following discussions about the pilot instrument with practitioners and tourism experts in the region, these two items were classified within the business factors in the instrument. “Market ties” were also considered better classified as business factors, since market demand is a major element of the literature on business competitiveness. Crouch and Ritchie describe “market ties” as ethnic ties, visiting friends and relatives, and business ties. Consequently, these were translated for this study as “China market potential,” “other Asia-Pacific market potential,” and “long-haul arket potential” given the growing importance of China both in broad economic terms and in terms of outbound tourism growth, the Chinese diaspora throughout the region, and the global family and business linkages emanating from Asia. Similarly, shopping, which was added from Jansen- Verbeke’s (1986) work on urban tourism, was also treated as a business factor, being covered by the item “good retail sector,” which was derived from the competitiveness literature. The practitioners in the region also placed great stress, as do Crouch and Ritchie, on the importance of safety in determining the competitiveness of a destination and in this item eing of especial importance to tourism. As a result, “safety,” which appears in the conceptual model as a 342 MAY 2005 Items Derived from Core Items Added from Core Resources and Items Derived Directly Resources and Attractors Specifically Urban Tourism Attractors (Crouch and from Core Resources but Classified within Studies(Jansen-Verbeke Ritchie 1999) and Attractors Business-Related Factors 1986; Law 1993) Physiography Visual appeal; climate Interesting architecture; well-known landmarks Culture and history Different culture; notable history Local way of life Market ties Ethnic ties; visiting friends and relatives (VFR); business ties
Activities Nightlife; music and performances; museums and galleries; dedicated tourism attractions Special events Special events; interesting festivals Tourism superstructure Cuisine High quality; accommodation; transportation facilities Shopping1 An advantage of combining business competitiveness research with tourism research was that methodological approaches found in the tourism literature helped address a number of shortcomings in the competitiveness literature. The use of a large sample survey, rather than a limited number of interviews (such as used in Porter 1990) with all the inherent difficulties of that methodology, is one advance.
Second, most studies of competitiveness seem to assess a location’s competitiveness in a given industry by generating lists of pluses and minuses or advantages and disadvantages against a set of criteria without any means of prioritizing these criteria. This is one of the shortcomings of Porter’s framework and one that is remedied by the approach of this study, which quantified the importance of the posited determinants by the use of a Likert-type scale. A 5-point scale was adopted to rate the importance of the resulting 52 items, ranging from 1 (very unimportant) to 5 (very important) with a midpoint of 3 (neutral).
A further shortcoming of the competitiveness literature was also addressed in this study by establishing the competitive context, or “set,” within which a given destination must address issues of competition. On a conceptual level, most studies of competitiveness, including Porter’s (1990), assess the competitiveness of an industry without an appropriate context. However, competitiveness cannot be assessed in a vacuum. A given location is competitive or uncompetitive in a given industry not in the abstract but against relevant competing locations (Enright, Scott, and Dodwell 1997). Specific ourism destinations are not competitive or uncompetitive in the abstract but versus competing destinations, and it is important to establish which destinations comprise the competitive set (Kozak and Rimmington 1999). To address this shortcoming, the instrument began by asking respondents to identify the main competing locations, confining the competitors to similar types of destination, namely, other cities in the Asia Pacific region. The first study was carried out in Hong Kong beginning in early 2000. The instrument was distributed to practitioners among tourism suppliers in Hong Kong, identified by their embership of the Hong Kong Tourist Association and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), groups that include a wide cross-section of the service businesses active in tourism. The instrument was addressed to the most senior manager identified in the membership guide, and the responses showed that respondents were all at managerial grade. A total of 210 responses were received from the 1,253 companies contacted, representing a response rate of 16. 8%. Of the 210 respondents, 49 were in the hotel industry, 36 were in retailing, with the balance in travel agencies, tour operators, airlines, and other similar areas.
Respondents were first asked to identify the three main competitors for Hong Kong in urban tourism from a listing of 17 major city destinations in Asia Pacific. The results indicated that Hong Kong’s principal competitor is Singapore, followed by Bangkok. Singapore’s position was expected given the comparable roles of the two cities in economic terms, including transport and logistics as well as similarities in culture and historical background. The next closest competitor was Bangkok, which suggests that this city too has similarities with Hong Kong, although it is not seen as such a close competitor as Singapore.
Thus, Singapore and Bangkok were selected for the second stage of the study, which was to replicate the survey in two broadly similar destinations and for which the appropriate resources and collaborators were then sought. Funding constraints unfortunately delayed the organization of this replication beyond the events of 2001 that caused such havoc to the global tourism industry and which disrupted the execution of the next phase. In early 2002, therefore, the survey was distributed to members of the tourism industry in both Bangkok and Singapore. This was done with the assistance of local tourism industry ssociations in each location and with additional assistance provided by PATA. In Bangkok, the instrument was distributed to members of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, the Thai Hotels Association, and also to Thai based members of PATA. A total of 125 responses were received from the 1,071 companies contacted, giving a response rate of 11. 7%. Of the 125 respondents, 37 were in the hotel industry, 68 were in travel agencies and tour operators, with the balance in airlines, retailing, and other similar areas. In Singapore, the instrument was distributed to members of the Singapore Hotels Association, the National Association of Travel Agents of Singapore, and Singapore based members of PATA. A total of 78 responses were received from the 532 companies contacted, giving a response rate of 14. 7%. Of the 78 respondents, 40 were in the hotel industry, 24 were in travel agencies and tour operators, with the balance in airlines and other related areas.
The Singapore respondents ranked Bangkok as their main competitor and Hong Kong second. The Bangkok respondents ranked Singapore as the main competitor and Hong Kong as second. While this does not indicate an exact mirroring of the Hong Kong result, it hows clearly that there is a broad consensus that the three destinations are close competitors and hence supports the choice of the destinations for this study. The mean responses for the importance of the two groups of attributes in determining tourism competitiveness in city destinations in Asia Pacific are shown in Tables 1 and 2. To test for nonresponse bias, the responses from successive mail shots were subjected to an independent t-test to assess whether significant differences existed between the two groups of respondents. As the differences were limited, onresponse bias was not considered an issue. Rank order correlations were then calculated to obtain an overall impression of the similarities in responses among the three locations. This was followed by an ANOVA analysis and a post hoc F test to determine where specific differences among locations lay. Finally, to remove any consistent location specific bias, the data were normalized and resubmitted to the ANOVA and post hoc F tests. Table 1 shows the results for the importance of the tourism “attractors,” as perceived by the respondents in each of the three destinations, ranked in order of the Hong Kong esults. The ratings, measured by the means of the responses for each factor, ranged from 3. 24 to 4. 64 for the Hong Kong respondents, from 3. 38 to 4. 67 for Singapore, and from 3. 50 to 4. 74 for Bangkok.
Thus, there was both a similar and a fairly wide range in each case, suggesting a degree of discrimination between the factors, and there was consistency among the three groups in rating all the “attractors” above the neutral (3) midpoint of the Likert-type scale. In other words, there was a general consensus that all the attractors identified for the survey were of some importance, hence ending support for the original conceptual model of Crouch and Ritchie (1999) and for the framework of this study derived from the model. A cursory inspection of the rankings shows that there are considerable similarities between Hong Kong and Singapore responses but somewhat fewer between Hong Kong and Bangkok. It is interesting to note that there was consistency at the top and bottom of the rankings. “Safety” was ranked first in all locations and “music and performances” was last in each case. Table 2 shows the results for the importance of the “business factors” in etermining tourism destination competitiveness in Asia Pacific, again ordered by the Hong Kong rankings. The mean ratings ranged from 3. 61 to 4. 68 for Hong Kong, from 3. 60 to 4. 72 for Singapore, and 3. 61 to 4. 51 for Bangkok. Again, as with the “attractors,” there was a range between the top and bottom of the ratings, suggesting that respondents discriminated between factors; again, all the means were above the neutral (3) midpoint. When the rank ordering of the business factors is considered, again, a cursory inspection indicates that there is broader consistency between the rankings of the Hong Kong and Singapore espondents than between Hong Kong and Bangkok.
“Political stability” was ranked first by all three groups, this being consistent with the ranking of “safety” as first among the attractors. If the two sets of results are compared, the Hong Kong and Singapore respondents rated both the top and bottom two “business factors” higher than the top and bottom two “attractors,” although this was not so with the Bangkok respondents. If the averages of the two sets of data are compared, Hong Kong rated the attractors as 3. 90 and the business factors as 4. 08, with Singapore at 3. 93 and 4. 2, respectively. Bangkok differed by rating the attractors as 4. 02 and the business factors as 4. 00. Thus, for two of the locations, the business factors are considered more important on average than the factors conventionally considered in tourism destination research. An important interim conclusion is, therefore, that the results lend considerable support to the usefulness of this expanded approach and that given the ratings for the business factors, these should certainly be included in any study of tourism competitiveness. The results also suggest that the level of importance of he two sets of factors may vary by location, raising the question of how universal the perceptions of importance are. To explore this issue in more detail, rank order correlations were calculated. Table 3 shows that overall, the ranking of the tourism attractors was strongly correlated among all three groups, with a very strong correlation (. 962) between Hong Kong and Singapore. However, for the business factors, the strongest correlation (. 824) was between Singapore and Bangkok. Thus, there would appear to be a very close, albeit not exactly the same, perception of the rankings of importance in the three different locations.
Similarities in the importance measures across the destinations suggest that they address similar markets with similar needs and similar concerns. Differences, on the other hand, could indicate that the destinations target different market segments with, potentially, a different product mix. ANOVA techniques were used to test for differences among the three groups of respondents for each of the factors. The hypothesis that the results came from the same population could be rejected for 8 of the 15 tourism attractors and 11 of the 37 business factors (as listed in Table 4).
In other words, there was a different perception of the importance of these attributes across locations. It is interesting to note that this points to far greater agreement regarding the business factors than the conventional tourism attractors, with a lack of agreement in more than half the attractors compared to a similar lack of agreement in around 30% of the business factors. The post hoc Ryan-Einot-Gabriel-Welsch (REGW) F test results for the factors where differences were found are also included in Table 4. For the eight attractors, Hong Kong and Singapore were consistently within the same subset, eaning that the hypothesis that all results come from the same population cannot be rejected in the case of these two locations. Singapore was within the same subset as Bangkok for four of the attractors, and Bangkok was a sole outlier in the other four cases. These results suggest that Hong Kong and Singapore are addressing essentially the same market segment and are the most directly competing among the three destinations, followed by Singapore and Bangkok, with Hong Kong and Bangkok being the least directly competing among the three destinations. This is consistent with the views registered in Hong Kong and Bangkok but not with hose registered by the Singapore respondents, who claimed that Singapore’s most direct competitor is Bangkok. The results for the business factors are also shown in Table 4, which indicates a lower degree of consistency than was found with the tourism attractors. Of the 11 factors exhibiting differences among the locations, 8 were factors in which the Hong Kong and Singapore responses could not be distinguished, again suggesting that both groups of respondents could be considered to be in broad agreement (or at least not in disagreement) on the importance of almost all the business factors.
This provides some evidence that the two destinations are addressing very similar market segments and are in particularly close competition. To correct for any systematic bias in the responses (respondents from a given location systematically responding with higher or lower importance ratings than respondents from the other locations), the mean of all of the importance responses of a given location (the mean of the location means in the attributes in Tables 1 and 2) was subtracted from the responses for each attribute from that location. The normalized responses were then reexamined using ANOVA, and he results are shown in Table 5, which lists the factors for which the null hypothesis could be rejected and in which differences were detected. The results suggest that in both the attractors and the business factors, there were very few disagreements among the respondents in the three locations. The null hypothesis could not be rejected for 10 of the 15 attractors and 32 of the 37 business factors. Again, the results were subjected to the REGW F test, and the results are also shown in Table 5. Among the attractors, the five factors where differences were indicated were notable history,” “different culture,” “music and performances,” “local way of life,” and “nightlife. ”
As with the nonnormalized data, the responses from Hong Kong and Singapore all fell within the same subset, indicating consistency amongst the respondents. Within the second subset, responses from Singapore and Bangkok were consistent in three of the cases. The Bangkok responses differed from the other two locations for the remaining 2 attractors and differed from the Hong Kong responses in all five cases. The differences in the first five factors, especially the differences between the Hong Kong and Bangkok respondents, ay be explained by differences in the product and market emphasis of the two cities. These factors can be categorized broadly as cultural attractions, which are, arguably, more significant in Bangkok’s product and positioning than in Hong Kong’s. Singapore’s affinity with Bangkok for history, culture and music, and performances can be explained in a similar manner, given that Singapore places greater emphasis on the diversity of Southeast Asian culture and the role of these in the multiethnic mix of its society. When the business factors were subjected to the same analysis, the factors where differences were detected were good retail sector/shopping,” “China market potential,” “free port status,” “education and training institutions,” and “staff skills,” as shown in Table 5. For the first three factors, the REGW F test identified the Hong Kong responses as significantly higher than the Bangkok and Singapore responses, which were grouped together in a separate subset.
The Bangkok respondents rated the “education and training institutions” factor higher than the other two groups. Overlapping subsets were identified for the factor of “staff skills,” with the Hong Kong and Singapore respondents in one and he Singapore and Bangkok respondents in the other. Again a different product mix could explain some of the differences. Hong Kong’s ability to access the China market, given its location and political context, would raise the importance of China market potential. The greater importance of tourists from the Chinese mainland would also explain why Hong Kong rated both shopping and free port status higher than Singapore, given the salience of these attributes to this market segment. Bangkok’s rating educational institutions higher than the others is perhaps because of the relatively lower numbers of institutions in Thailand hat specialize in tourism specific education and training. However, the thrust of this study is not to explain a small number of differences but to consider to what extent the importance attached to the factors, as indicated by the ratings results, is location specific. What is striking is that once a relative distribution was calculated, there was a fairly high degree of commonality, or lack of disagreement, in both sets of attributes and a much higher degree of commonality in the business-related factors.
The results of the present article demonstrate the usefulness of the methodology in investigating tourism destination ompetitiveness. In particular, the results reinforce the value of the more comprehensive approach suggested by Crouch and Ritchie (1999), which includes not only the conventional tourism attractors but also business-related factors drawn from the generic literature on competitiveness. The finding that, in all three destinations, many of the business factors were rated higher than the tourism attractors suggests that tourism policy, so often formulated solely in terms of tourism attractors, must also take account of the business factors. This study has advanced Crouch and Ritchie’s approach in ourism-specific competitiveness research and has also overcome a shortcoming in much of the general competitiveness literature by explicitly examining the relative importance of a wide range of competitiveness attributes. By obtaining quantitative estimates of the importance of each attribute, the present approach not only can be used to make statistically valid comparisons across locations, but it can also provide practitioners and policy makers with a means of prioritizing decisions by taking account of the weighting ascribed to the attributes. This study also draws attention to the need, especially for ndustry participants, to be aware of the degree to which the weightings are universal with regard to location. If the importance measures proved comparable across all competing locations, then it is likely that the same factors that influenced competitiveness in one location would influence competitiveness in other locations to the same extent and in the same ways. This would indicate that a “universal view” of competitiveness would be appropriate. However, this article has shown that there is not a total agreement (or absence of disagreement) among different locations regarding the mportance of all attributes, even for close competitors.
The degree of agreement (or absence of disagreement) was greater among the business-related factors than among the tourism attractors, however, suggesting that there is a greater degree of universality in the former than the latter. Hence, as far as the business competitiveness factors are concerned, the three destinations would appear to be competing more directly on almost all of the factors. The greater disagreement among destinations regarding the relative importance of tourism attractors is, arguably, a more important finding than had universal agreement been bserved. Even when the possibility of systematic bias had been reduced by normalization, there were statistically significant differences in 5 of the 15 attractors. This suggests that what determines competitiveness in tourism may vary depending on the product mix of the location and the targeted market segments. This conclusion would be unremarkable if the comparison had been made between tourism destinations that are obviously different, for example, a resort and a city. But the study confined its focus to city destinations only to control for such variances.
Consequently, this study suggests that the ratings ascribed to the tourism attractors are close but not invariant. This finding thus argues against a single, universal view of what drives tourism competitiveness and suggests that rather than a single policy prescription or strategy, destinations must take a more tailored approach to enhancing and developing tourism competitiveness. At a practical level, it also suggests that care is required when implementing destination competitiveness models, including carefully developed conceptual models such as Crouch and Ritchie’s 1999), given that “one size does not necessarily fit all” in terms of the importance of attributes. It also argues for the identification of key competitors in competitiveness research and hence for tailoring both policy and strategy to a particular set of close competitors, addressing those factors that are common to the competitive set.
The variations observed in the ratings can also be used to assess the degree of directness of competition and thus to verify more general perceptions of which destinations are, and which are not, close competitors. This study provides additional guidance for several areas hat future research may address. The deliberate choice of three destinations perceived to be the most direct mutual competitors in the Asia Pacific region, while necessary for the purpose of this particular study, is of course also a limitation of the research. Additional studies of cities in different regions would be valuable and would help determine whether the findings based on the Asia Pacific sample are consistent with cities in other major tourism regions. Second, future studies could take other types of destination, such as resorts, as the sample, and in both cases, the results within and between regions could be investigated.
With an expanded database, not only can issues of universality be further considered but also wider questions of competitiveness, including the issue of competitiveness between unlike destination types, can be addressed with the benefit of empirical results. In addition, further research can also address the issue of universality over time as well as space. Just as this study has indicated that the importance of the determinants is not universal with respect to location, so it is not impossible that their importance may vary over time. Further research can also raise additional issues that are ertinent to the study of city tourism per se and hence help address a lack of attention in the tourism literature to the analysis of urban tourism (see Ashworth 1989; Page 2000). In particular, given the importance of business tourism in cities and the generally higher expenditures of such visitors (Yong and Gartner 2004), a more refined approach could be developed to assess whether determinants of destination competitiveness vary with respect to business or leisure tourism. City destinations were used in this study to test the variability of the importance of competitiveness determinants in losely competing destinations, and hence, the focus of the survey was on tourism in general. Given the findings of this study, however, an approach that refines the market segments in greater detail would provide valuable and fruitful results. The issue of relative competitiveness, or “performance,” is also a valuable area for further investigation. Such work will offer a more detailed guide to managerial and policy action through the combination of importance and performance measures. This is commonly done through the technique of importance performance analysis (Martilla and
James 1977; Evans and Chon 1989; Uysal, Howard, and Jamrozy 1991), which in essence weights performance by importance and, through a graphical representation, offers a readily accessible tool for managerial decision making. When combined with the findings of this study regarding the caution with which universal importance measures should be viewed, the future findings should offer valuable additional insights for both practitioners and researchers. In summary, the study has reinforced, with empirical data, the proposition that both business factors and as well as tourism attractors should be incorporated into studies of ourism competitiveness. In showing that attributes that contribute to destination competitiveness may vary in their importance across locations depending on the product mix and target market segments, especially in a complex multifaceted industry like tourism, it calls into question the universality of any particular recipe for tourism competitiveness. This conclusion should inform the more generic work on competitiveness that generally applies blanket and equal weightings to attributes of competitiveness across very different locations and economies. This study has also developed nd tested a methodology that can be replicated in other destinations to enable more precise identification of direct competitors and a more detailed assessment of the importance of the attributes that determine tourism destination competitiveness.
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