Presently a destination provides greatest untapped branding opportunities (Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2004). The World trade organization has endorsed this view and has suggested that the 21st century will view the emergence of tourism destinations as fashion accessories. The main potent of destination branding is to tap the “emotional power of travel as ‘experience’” and reach beyond the tourism industry (Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, p. 5). Many countries like New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia have branded themselves as tourist destinations. Macau’s strategy to compete in the global tourism industry is by embracing diversity as its tourism strategy (Koumelis, 2008; Reuters, 2008 ).
Macau government has built the country’s image as a haven among businessmen, tourists, and gamblers (Manes, 2008). This unique combination of cultural diversity, dual political system, gaming, and leisure venue provide Macau the opportunity to brand itself rightly as the diversity destination like Australia (MGTO, 2008a). More than 1.5 million international visitors have come to Macau in the first half of 2008, a 46.5% leap over the same period in 2007 (MGTO, 2008b). This does not include the 8.8 million Mainland residents who visited in the same period, according to the Macau Government Tourist Office (Koumelis, 2008). Tourism and gambling revenues make up more than half of Macau’s GDP (Reuters, 2008 ). With increasing attraction of the tourism in Macau and increasing global competition from other Asian cities like Singapore, Dubai, etc., employing a diversity strategy which enables diversity in offerings to the tourists is essential to tap the international market (Reuters, 2008 ). The diversity strategy is believed to have the potential to act as a catalyst for tourism in Macau, but still there is a reported lack of branding of the city as a world class cultural or a leisure heritage (Macau is known more as a gaming destination) destination which provides quality service and infrastructure. On the contrary, the country stands out with its endless lines at the border, horrific traffic, and inconsistent service (Manes). Thus, there are problems in employing a diversity strategy to international tourists.
Aim and Objective
The overall objective of the paper is to identify the challenges of applying diversity in promoting the Tourism Industry in Macau.
So the research will have four basic objectives:
To define the concept of Diversity (especially in tourism position);
To identify the challenges facing Macau as a destination now
To analyze the marketing strategies (diversifying the brand) of Macau in promoting itself as a tourist destination;
To provide evidence for further research on diversifying the brand of Macau.
In order to boost the influx of imge in a state it is important to revitalize the brand image of the destination. Images form the basis of the evaluation or selection process and thus provide the link between motivations and destination selection (Goodall, 1992). Tourism images are important because of the role they play in the potential tourist’s decision-making process. They are also significant because of how they affect the level of satisfaction with the tourist experience, which is critical in terms of encouraging positive word-of-mouth recommendations and return visits to the destination. Gunn (1972) was one of the first to identify the different ways in which cognitive images are formed. Gunn’s theory involves a constant building and modification of images that are conceived at a number of levels, namely, organic, induced, and modified-induced. Organic images are those that arise from supposedly unbiased sources such as books, school, television documentaries, and the experiences of friends and family. Induced images are those that emanate from the destination area itself and are derived from marketing and promotional material. The key difference between organic and induced images is the control that the destination area has over what is presented. Although little can be done to influence organic images, marketers can induce an image by investment in promotion. Thus, image of Macau, in the past, has been too dominated as a gambling destination. But recently the Macau Government has aimed to adopt diversity strategy in tourism in order to make Macau an ‘everybody’s destination’. Here we will evaluate the image branding of Macau as a ‘diversity’ destination as marketed o the tourists.
Diversity strategy in tourism is a concept which in employed to integrate ethnic and cultural tourism with modern, urban tourism (Collins, 2007). Many researchers have reviewed tourism strategies of cities like New York (Fainstein & Powers, 2007), Boston (Halter, 2007), Lisbon (Marques & DaCosta, 2007). All these researches have emphasized on promoting culture and ethnic diversity as the main crux of a diversity tourism strategy.
There are many problems that scholars identify regarding a diversity strategy of tourism. But many scholars feel that diversity tourism is just a commoditization of the cultural heritage of the tourist destinations with holidaying festivals just another way to attract tourist attention (MacCannell, 1976). A diversity strategy has made every other city feel and look almost the same way. So if the offering of a tourist destination is almost similar as one’s home country. As there are no variety in the offering as “post-modern tourism” is accused of doing, then there lies a major problem in attracting tourists, even with strategies to promote diversity in the destinations (Cohen, 2004). Further, Cohen insists that a diversification strategy ultimately makes cultural heritages as tourism commodities and festival just another “commercial” to attract tourists.
MacCannell (1976) wrote that it is important to promote what the tourists are expected to see. He theorizes that tourists make a strong contact with what they see through marketing and promotions of tourist’s destinations. And while they are in the place, they appraise the location.
“Sight – maker –sight transformations are not merely something that may occur in the act of sightseeing. They are essential elements of the act. Tourists have criticized for failing, somehow, to see the sights they visit, exchanging perception for recognition” (MacCannell, 1976, p. 121).
Here two important facets are revealed for the sight – market – contact phenomenon. First, is the on sight information or perception regarding the sight is carried to the sight by the tourist, and the second is the unobtrusive view of the sight. Thus, we see that information about the destination paints a picture of the place itself. This facet must be remembered incase of the sightseers. Hence, if the promotions regarding the tourist places do not match the on-ground perception of the tourists, this will hamper the tourism of the place. This must be kept in mind while promoting diversity tourism of Macau. Using the concept developed by McCannell, we will try to evaluate the diversity strategy of tourism in Macau.
The research methodology is segregated into two parts. First, we study the policy of diversity as adopted by the Macau government and how different they are from other diversity tourism strategy of other cities like Lisbon, New York, and Boston. On the basis of the diversity strategy as viewed by academics, we will try to evaluate if the strategy followed in Macau are compatible. Then we will individually try to evaluate the strategies undertaken to promote diversity of Macau. This will be done by secondary research of the tourism website, tourism promotions and evaluation of other strategic programs undertaken by the government. Then we undertake a comparison of the tourist spending in Macau in the gambling industry and in other tourist related activities. Then we try to find their share in GDP growth of Macau. This will provide a comparative overview of revenue earnings and growth of Macau tourism through gambling, gaming, cultural or MICE1 tourism.
Then we undertake the analysis of the promotions of Macau tourism to spread diversity. First we analyze the relevant destination image literature was conducted to develop a master list of attributes in order to understand the message of diversity delivered. This is done by using the marketing literature that Macau government is using to promote diversity like travel brochures, website, advertisements, and promotions. All of the studies conceptualize destination image as comprising such features as attractions, climate, culture, host populations, recreation, and scenery (Jenkins, 1997). Content analysis of written information, such as guidebooks, or visual information, including images in travel brochures, can provide a great deal of information about the images projected from a tourism destination. For example, Dilley (1986) conducted a survey of the images used by different national tourist organizations in projecting their destination to the North American market. In our study, we follow the same method of understanding the brand image of Macau as being marketed by the government.
Having done the two stages of analysis we will have to correlate the share of GDP of the two sectors i.e. gambling and the non-gambling sector of tourism and the promotions for the two. This will show us if the diversity strategy has been successful in Macao or has decreased tourist influx in an already strong sector.
Walter Jameison (2000) presented the idea that any form of tourism strategy should generate economic and social development. To ascertain the problems of cultural diversification we will try to ascertain the negative impact diversity tourism had on the social and economic environment of the country. This will be done by examining the secondary data on the nature of tourism and its effect on the Macao economy:
Lead to culture commoditization – for this we will refer to the tourism promotions
Create a higher cost of living for the residents (rent, food services) – we will consider the inflation rates and the government census post the diversity strategy.
Displace traditional residents – ascertain how growth of tourists have encroached into the space of the locals through expansions of hotels, clubs, restaurants, etc. which has taken away private property.
Increase in crime rate crime – the nature and number of crime in Macau after the diversity strategy was employed.
Increase pollution – the ecological effect of diversity tourism on Macau’s environment (Jamieson, 2000)
The analysis of these factors and their effect on Macau after 2005 till date will provide a constructive idea as to the challenges that Macau faces (if any) after adopting a diversity strategy.
The data required for both the stages of research are gathered through secondary sources. We will evaluate data from 2005 after the diversity strategy was adopted. The tourist information brochures, advertisements, etc. are collected from Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO, 2008b). The data related to socio-economic analysis is gathered from the data released by Statistics and Census Department of Macao (DSEC, 2008).
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