Within the last century, tourism industry has undergone consistent changes which have influenced not only destinations and the impact of tourism on economy of countries, but also on the tourism industry proper and the way people get used to travel in the modern world. At the same time, the changes that occurred to tourism industry were, to a significant extent, determined by the technological changes that had been introduced within the last century. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the rapid development of infrastructure, introduction of new means of transportation, including the development of railroads and airways, and the development of new technologies which facilitate traveling, such as Internet that includes online booking and planning of the journey beforehand. As a result, the traditional tourism industry, which used to be oriented on the upper-class, while tourism was rather a prerogative of the elite than the industry oriented on mass consumers, is the emerging industry now, which attracts investors and brings consistent profits not only to travel operators and other companies operating in the industry, but travel industry can boost the economic development of countries and regions of the world, which are desirable destinations for tourists. In such a context, the development of tourism industry in the contemporary world is characterized by the rapid changes and introduction of new strategies. At the same time, one of the major trends in the contemporary market is the sustainable development of tourism destination which opens new opportunities for the development and further growth of tourism industry. Basically, tourism is very popular in the contemporary world and the number of tourists steadily growth. The development of new forms and trends in tourism industry stimulates the development of both niche and mass tourism, which, being quite different from each other, still persist and coexist in the international as well as national markets.
The development of tourism industry in the 20th century was influenced by several changes, which defined the further development of the industry (Gomory, 2002). In general it is possible to distinguish technological changes and socio-cultural changes that influenced the development of tourism industry. Speaking about technological changes, it is primarily necessary to focus on the change of transportation system of the modern world. In the early 20th century, the most advanced means of transportation were trains, while the railroad system was well-developed only in Europe and North America, i.e. in the most developed countries of the world, while the rest of the world had a poorly-developed transportation system and infrastructure.
Nevertheless, the emergence of railroads, the development of roads and infrastructure worldwide stimulated the development of tourism because the better infrastructure and transportation system facilitated travels. In addition, by the mid-20th century, their aviation industry had started to grow rapidly. In fact, in the middle of the 20th century, the aviation was booming and air flights became very popular and available to large number of people (Trout and Rivkin, 2000). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that it is due to the aviation industry tourism industry has been emerging since the mid-20th century. However, it is only by the late 20th century, tourism industry had reached an unparalleled level of development and, today, it still keeps growing.
Other important technological changes emerged in the second half of the 20th century and they were related to the development of telecommunication and information technologies. In fact, new telecommunication and information technologies have changed tourism industry consistently. Due to these technologies, tourism outgrew into mass industry, while in the past it was rather exotic, even extreme industry because traveling was accompanied by the lack of information about destinations, while tourists had relatively low opportunities to communicate with each other and their relatives or friends worldwide. Moreover, in the first half of the 20th century, they could stay in isolation from their motherland, if tourists from Europe, for instance, travelled to an African or any other developing country (Murdaugh, 2005). Instead, the development of modern telecommunications, including mobile phones and information technologies, including Internet, has eliminated physical boundaries between countries and places making them available to masses of tourists. In such a way, tourists could not be just informed about potential destinations, but they could travel to any place in the world and maintain communication with their friends, relatives and others by means of modern telecommunication systems.
At the socio-cultural level, the world tends to grow homogeneous. In the past, especially in the first half of the 20th century, the world was extremely diverse culturally and each country was the unique destination for tourists. In the mid-20th century, the world became bi-polar when two super-powers, the USA and the USSR, divided the world into two distinct parts. Such division limited opportunities for the development of travel industry worldwide because people from democratic countries had limited access to countries of the Soviet Bloc and vice versa (Morrison, 2002). By the end of the 20th century, the world has changed dramatically after the end of the Cold War. The elimination of physical barriers to traveling and the fast development of economic globalization stimulated the growth of economic cooperation and development of tourism industry. The US, being the only superpower in the world, contributed to the fast growth of the impact of Western civilization on the rest of the world, English became the vehicle language of international communication. In such a way, people got an opportunity to travel anywhere they want and such socio-cultural and technological changes determined the development of modern tourism industry.
Basically, the current development of tourism industry and the technological progress determined the rapid development of mass tourism which was traditionally considered to be more economically effective compared to niche tourism. The latter may be viewed as a recent or relatively new trend. This fact, actually determines the skepticism of some specialists in relation to niche tourism as economically effective tourism (Murdaugh 2005, 194). At any rate, many specialists (Edgell 2006, p.126) stand on the ground that the development of mass tourism is economically more effective compared to niche tourism.
First of all, it should be said that the emergence of mass tourism was stimulated by the development of technologies and the improvement of the infrastructure, especially transport that contributed to the facilitation of large number of tourists from one place to another. In such a situation, the development of mass tourism implies the development of the infrastructure of the local economy as well as the growing international cooperation of the local economy with external markets if the local tourism industry is oriented on foreign tourists. This means that the development of the local infrastructure can be stimulated by the mass tourism (Van der Borght, 2000). It is obvious that the development of infrastructure will stimulated the development of economy because in the contemporary world the effective logistics is one of the major conditions of the successful business, while the effectiveness of logistics increases in areas where there is a well-developed infrastructure. Consequently, mass tourism may be viewed as a stimulus to the development of the local economy.
Furthermore, the development of mass tourism can bring profits to the local economy as well as companies operating in the tourist industry due to the large number of tourists. In fact, in accordance with the canons of the open market economy and modern economic trends mass consumption is one of the major conditions of the effective functioning and profitability of any business (Florida, 2002). In relation to mass tourism it should be said that it can be really profitable due to the large number of tourists who will naturally spend their money and, therefore, stimulate the development of the local industries, especially hotel and resort industry, restaurant industry, entertainment industry, etc., i.e. industry which are directly linked with the supply of services or products that will be consumed by tourists.
On the other hand, along with the relatively high profitability of mass tourism due to the large number of tourists, it is necessary to remember about certain risks that accompany this type of tourism. What is meant here is the necessity of the permanent and stable flow of tourists to the tourism destinations. In this respect, it is possible to estimate that this problem can be solved if the sustainable development of tourism industry continues and there are no crises in the industry. However, even the stable development cannot fully prevent mass tourism from crisis (Ries and Ries, 2002). For instance, it is possible to refer to the experience of South-Eastern Asia which was practically deserted after the notorious tsunami that had occurred recently in the area. In the result of this natural disaster, South-Eastern Asia transformed from one of the most desirably tourism destinations into the territory of the highest risk where tourists were simply afraid to visit. Moreover, many tourists and insurance companies had to pay huge compensation to those tourists that affected by the natural disaster that deteriorated the position of these companies in the market. In this regard, the large of tourists was a serious problem and disadvantage rather than a merit because it actually increased substantially the general volume of pay-offs.
In such a situation, it is possible to estimate that mass tourism is more vulnerable to negative impact of such extraordinary situations as natural disaster, for instance, while niche tourism is more flexible in this regard. Moreover, it is necessary to remember about the fact that the modern world faces a lot of threats which can affect tourism at large and mass tourism in particular. For instance, international terrorism may undermine mass tourism substantially, especially after terror attacks on September 11 (Novelli et al, 2005). Obviously, if a similar attack occurs, the interest of tourists will decrease substantially. Consequently, it will be impossible to attract a large number of tourists to the area.
It proves beyond a doubt that niche tourism proves to be more flexible in this respect and it is less susceptible to the negative impact to natural disasters or terror attacks, for instance. It should be pointed out that niche tourism is traditionally related to a particular event or area and it is not so oriented on the large number of customer but rather on the particular target group of customers which could be attracted by companies operating in tourism industry. Basically, the flexibility of niche tourism may be achieved due to the less dependence of this type of tourism on the constant and large flow of tourist. Instead, it is basically oriented on some specific group of customer that is interested in some specific even or area.
For instance, it is possible to speak about ecotourism. In fact, it is a relatively new trend and it does not imply the attraction of a large number of customers and there are objective reasons for such a situation. In fact, often local facilities cannot afford the presence of a large number of customers at a time (Van der Borght, 2000). Naturally, this may be viewed as a drawback, but, on the other hand, it is necessary to point out that this does not need significant investments in the development of the local infrastructure and building of special hotels, restaurants, and development of the recreation area at large. In the case of ecotourism, as a part of niche tourism, the closer the tourism destination is to its original, natural state the better and the more attracting the destination will be for tourists.
Moreover, it should be said that niche tourism is really more flexible because along with ecotourism niche tourism also includes such directions in the development of tourism as sport-oriented activities, which may attract a large a number of customers. For instance, the organization the football World Cup or the Olympic Games may be viewed as one of the most profitable events for the niche tourism. In fact, niche tourism uses such events as the attraction to customers and the recent Olympic Games or the football World Cup in Germany proved to be profitable. For instance, specialists estimate that the organization of the football World Cup in Germany brought milliards of investments into the national economy, while the number of foreign tourists was the highest compared to all the other World Cups in the past (Novelli et al. 2005, 227). This means that niche tourism may very profitable because it can also attract mass audience.
However, it is naturally possible to argue that this type of tourism attracts the large number of tourists for a very limited period of time, for instance, for the period of the competitions and after that the interests of tourists to tourism destination rapidly declines. In such a situation, companies working in niche tourism should simply redirect their attention to another sport event or just attempt to develop ecotourism, or any other type of niche tourism in the area after the sports event, which has attracted a large of tourists (Knapp and Sherwin, 2005). In this respect, it should be said that the sports event may be viewed as a kind of promotional campaign used tourist companies and local government to attract the attention of tourists to the specific destination and after that it is just necessary to organize special tours, develop ecotourism for instance and continue develop tourism in this area. However, it is obvious that it is impossible to count for the mass flow of tourists similar to that which was stimulated by the sports event.
In such a way, speaking about the economic impact of niche and mass tourism in the situation of the sustainable development of tourism, it is necessary to underline that the mass tourism may be viewed as more economically profitable because it is focused on the large and constant flow of tourists but such a dependence makes mass tourism extremely vulnerable to crisis provoked by some natural disasters or any other external threats, such as terror attacks. In such a situation, the negative impact of such crisis on mass tourism will be more serious than on niche tourism (Ries and Ries, 2002). The latter is more flexible and does not need a constant flow of a large number of tourists, instead, it is more mobile since it needs either the large number of tourists but for a short period of time, or small number of customer who could visit destination but it does not significant investments into the development of the local infrastructure and recreation area that leads to the situation that lower revenues may be more profitable because of the lower costs of this type of niche tourism, while in case of the short-term attraction of the large number of tourists for some specific event, the higher costs will bring higher profits compared to mass tourism.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that technological and socio-cultural changes, including the development of transportation system, telecommunications and information technologies, growing economic and cultural cooperation between countries, the growing popularity of western culture in the world, contributed to the consistent change of tourism industry. Tourism industry ceased to be the industry oriented on elite, instead it became the emerging industry oriented on mass-customers. At the same time, the aforementioned changes influenced target destinations since people could travel not only within their countries and regions where they lived, but, today, people can travel anywhere they want because they have technological opportunities to travel worldwide and costs of traveling decreased substantially compared to the early 20th century. As a result, today, exotic countries, including African, Eastern-Asian and other remote countries became major destinations for tourists from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and other developed countries, which comprise the core of tourists in the world. In all probability, tourism industry will keep growing in the future and tourists from developed countries will be more inclined to green tourism, while tourists from developing countries may be more interested in educational tourism, which allows them to visit new countries and attend language schools, for instance. Finally, taking into account the current economic globalization, it is possible to forecast the development of business tourism in the future.
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