Differentials in traditional vs. sustainable tourism planning processes in developing countries, with an application of the sustainable tourism planning principles to the tourism destination of La Romana-Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
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Tourism development has been advocated for as a means by which to stimulate regional economic development in developing countries by international development agencies and governments seeking to transition from agricultural to industrial economies. First viewed as a purely private sector activity, tourism development planning was ad hoc or reactive to the demands of a quickly growing and highly dynamic industry. The externalities and negative impacts of rapid development and poor planning were quickly recognizable in small economies; high economic leakages, cultural encroachment, environmental degradation. When planning processes were undertaken, methodologies were derived from those of developed countries, proving not to be the most appropriate approaches to tourism development in lesser developed economies where administrative and structural capacities are weak or non-existent. Planning objectives also were heavily focused on physical requirements and financial outputs, all derived from identified market segments. Sustainable tourism development evolved from the recognition that the industry is dependant upon natural and cultural resources which must be preserved. Planning processes focus more on the capacity of these underlying resources, as opposed to simply meeting market demands for products and services. The integration of these resources as tourism amenities is furthermore thought to be crucial to sustaining the value of the tourism product. Nonetheless, sustainable tourism development planning is no better defined than its traditional counterpart. Implementation of planning processes, both traditional and sustainable, are challenging, especially in developing countries. This report seeks to identify fundamental differences in traditional versus sustaining planning processes for tourism in regards to vision, goals, objectives, strategies and performance indicators. The goals and objectives of sustainable tourism development are evaluated against national developmental indicators for socio-cultural, environmental and economic outcomes. A case study example is undertaken of the mass tourism destination La Romana-Bayahibe, Dominican Republic where, through the local private sector hotel association, the Interamerican Development Bank is funding the development of a “Sustainable Tourism Development Model”. An evaluation of the established goals and objectives is undertaken with the aim of identifying rational performance indicators for evaluation of the project’s impact.
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