Delivering the contemporary tourism product: the destination
The notion of a destination lies at the heart of tourism. The concept that people travel from home to a destination, stay there for a limited period of time, and then return is how the phenomena of tourism is generally understood. The destination concept is one of the most important, yet also most complex, aspects of tourism. It is complex because people, including marketers and researchers, refer to destinations of different scale. For example, Metelka (1990: 46) defined a destination as the ‘geographic location to which a person is traveling’; Vukonic (1997) equated the term to that of a ‘resort’, while Gunn (1994: 107) saw a destination as being a ‘travel market area’ and referred to destination zones that are geographic areas ‘containing a critical mass of development that satisfies traveller objectives’ (Gunn 1994: 27). Tourism destinations are therefore described at different scales ranging from the country level to regions, towns or resorts, specific sites and even specific attractions that are visited by tourists. A destination is a spatial or geographical concept that is primarily defined by visitors from outside the location although many places seek to make themselves destinations for visitors in order to be able to benefit economically from tourism. A destination therefore, by definition, comes to exist by virtue of the people that visit it. If people from outside a location do not visit a place it is not a destination. That may seem like stating the obvious, but it is actually an extremely important point because it forces us to ask: How do places become destinations? And, as a follow-up to that, what are the implications of becoming a destination?