The tourism industry: contemporary issues
In this chapter we turn to the contemporary tourism industry and identify and expand upon five key issues facing the industry. We begin the chapter with the challenges posed to the contemporary tourism industry by globalization. This section identifies the key drivers of globalization, particularly the lowered cost of travel and technology. Tourism businesses are responding to globalization by internationalizing and building alliances and partnerships, whilst the public sector is concerned to protect small businesses threatened by the shifting competitive landscape that globalization delivers. The chapter then considers the fact that the tourism industry has been slow to embrace the benefits of the knowledge economy, particularly in terms of adopting knowledge management practices and boosting competitiveness through utilizing knowledge for innovation and new product development. Both globalization and the knowledge economy demand that tourism businesses are well networked. Only in this way they can ensure that they benefit from both global trends and the flexible specialization that characterizes the industry. Network analysis can be used to examine networks of destination and tourism business and to diagnose problems and weak links. Embeddedness within networks is identified as a key strategy for survival of the contemporary tourism business. The chapter then turns to small businesses, the lifeblood of tourism destinations, and makes the distinction between small businesses and entrepreneurs. A particular feature of the tourism industry, the lifestyle entrepreneur, is then examined. Finally, the chapter examines the crisis facing human resources (HR) in tourism, a crisis partly due to demographics and partly to the nature of tourism jobs and their working conditions.