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Visitor Management Models (1)

Visitor Management Models (1)
Another area which we emphasis in research and planning, has been the development of visitor management models. These are central frameworks, which describe the information that is needed to make wise management decisions, that will allow visitors to have good time as well as protect the environment. A large number of these models has been developed, usually identified by the first lenders of the words to describe them, Vim, Tomm, Vamp, Verp, and visitor information management, visitor activity management process and so on. These models are fairly complex, they differ in detail, but they are fairly expensive to develop.
And as I say, they do not travel well, what I mean by that is having developed model in one place may not be able to use in another place. And so, a lot of effort was spent in trying to develop management systems, but they are not as widely used as they are proposed and hoped. There are detailed plans which have been developed using such models, for example, for Kangaroo Island and Jenolan caves in Australia, and for Mogao Caves in China. But this also seems to been something of dead end because of the cost and level of expertise that is required.
Let me move on, then by considering some of the challenges that remained for impacts studies and planning management decisions that derive from them. I’m going to highlight four topics, the complexity of the impact process which I have been describing throughout my presentations, the importance of culture, climate change, and the administrative structures that are necessary to make inform decisions about planning and management for tourism. I’m not able to overview things in great detail and in fact even though I identify four important emphases I’ve highlight some more than others. Let’s consider complexity first, Looking at this broadly, the question we are asking is what point on preservation-development continuum are we planning and managing for.
Is a main goal to entirely protect the environment? Or is to provide experiences for large number of people with the willingness to change the environment greatly? Or we are trying to do something somewhere in the middle? Usually, the two extremes are not acceptable. In other words we can’t purely preserve if we want tourism, obviously we have to have people, and yet we don’t want to have too many people, so the environment is changed in ways we don’t want to. So, a question has always been asked is what point on preservation-development continuum are we trying to manage for? We also need to recognize that visitors come to places with very different expectations and experiences.
Although may see more obvious, thinking back the first time I went to the Canadian arctic, I was very surprised to find that I had hiked for about an hour, and I could still see the place I left. And the reason I could see the place I’d left was that there were no trees. And so, I moved along way over a long time, but the landscape had not changed a great deal. In the Mongolian grasslands again, there are vast open spaces and one can see from miles. And yet, it makes it very difficult to plan for tourism, because a small alteration in the environment. An acceptable building for example, can be seen for a very long way, destroying the views.
So, what may seem for a sight that such areas have very resilient and could potentially accommodate a large number of viewers, that may in fact prove not to be the case. In the forest area, the trees also separate people, and so it’s easier to feel lonely in a small area. A joke is told in Canada about the visitor who went from the previous grassland to visit a famous park in Rocky mountains, and they were asked what they thought about the scenery, and they replied they couldn’t see the scenery, because the mountains were in the way. Coming from a different place with different expectations.
I had the good fortune to work in some nature reserves in a part of Indonesia called Sulawesi. And the very special nature reserve that I visited had among other things, three groups of black macaques, apes. The first time I went there, I had spent quite a lot of time before I found many black macaques. When I returned more recently, there were a large number of black macaques at the entrance gate to the park. So, there were more black macaques and there were more accessible than when I first went there. But they no long behaved like black macaques, because they become accustomed to visitors.
In fact, one black macaque took a self-photograph using a tourist’s camera, and that in fact ended up in the course as people want to know who own the copyright to the photograph who own the copyright to the photograph taken by the black macaque. So, here we have a change of time. One recent research there said recently the number of macaques has declined numbers, that may be the case, but I don’t think that’s a result of tourism, I think that’s a result of having too many black macaques now in a relatively small area. So, it’s very complicated that the relationships we are talking about between environment and economy and tourism.
We also need to recognize many very precious landscapes are not purely natural. In the area which I was brought up in the United Kingdom, the downs or grassland or some other areas where I used to live are very pleasant and very natural, or seemingly very natural. But they only stay that way, if sheep are allowed to graze on them, if the sheep are not there, then the grassland is replaced by trees, and so in order to have that attractive landscape, it has to be grazed. In the rice terraces across the world, whether in the Bali Indonesia, or Honghe in Vietnam, then it is important these terraces are farmed.
They cannot be simply preserved and protected, because if there are no farmers to farm rice fields, then they will eventually disappear. So, protection is difficult in such situations, in the Honghe case which just become a world heritage site, farmers unfortunately do not know what their future might be. But if they are not farmed, and thereby compensated from tourism benefits, then the chances are perhaps they will stop farming in which case the terraces won’t exist, and the reasons for calling a World Heritage Site will be degraded. As you read the literature and hear people talk, you will hear many simple statements, a common one is that take only photos leave only footprints.
But that is the problem, taking photographs by thousands and thousands of tourists one after the other is a problem. It doesn’t matter if you are a lion trying to make a kill, the best photographs of the lion killing its prey if it has been followed by tourists on the bus who all want good photograph, then it’s difficult for the lion to find something to eat. If you are resident of a community, and large numbers of tourists want to take your picture, because you are beautiful, or you dance well, or you dressed in an interested way, this too can get tedious, then taking photographs can be a problem.
While I live in a community, that lives in a very traditional way with no cars, but use horses, no electricity, and they believe it is wrong, because the very traditional Christian beliefs to have photographs taken. So, taking photographs of them is against their believes. Similarly, leaving in footprints is a problem. Thousands and thousands of people stepping in the same area destroys the paths, destroys the plants, destroys the steps, this is why some places require visitors to put on shoes or covers over their shoes to reduce the destruction. So, we take only photos leave only footprints sound really good. It’s often the photos and footprints that cause some of the problems.
Another statement is come and see it before it’s too late. This is last chance tourism. Here, we have a rare animal, a rare plant, a rare butterfly, come and see it before there are none left. Put another way, come and put more pressures on the scarce resource, and make sure that it doesn’t survive until the future. So, we have to be careful about what we say and how we behave, and how we behave, because some of the statement sound good at first, in fact encourage some of the problems that we don’t want.
There are a great variety of challenges in managing the impacts that we talked about, and the setting up of the administration of structures that can deal appropriately with tourism impact is not easy. Tourism has global impacts, people are travelling all over the world from place to place. We have said there is no part of the world which is not impacted by tourism. And yet, many of the impacts have to be managed locally. Because they occurred in specific places, in specific heritage sites, in specific communities, in specific parks.
So, dealing administratively with global problems and local impacts is a challenge, and it is one which is very difficult to resolve, and perhaps can be left to another discussion about setting up government structures to manage the impact that we have been talking about. This picture here, I take it on the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo, shows some tourism congestion, which has increased again over the 20 years since I first visited this place. For me this is one of the most special experiences available in China to cruise up the river for several hours among the magnificent cast limestone peaks.
But the first time I did it about 20 years ago, there was one boat, and it wasn’t possible to see other boats when I went up to the river. And now I went up there a couple years ago, the river is congested, those boats blow their hooters as they try to overtake each other to get to the berth. The pollution from one boat is passed on to the boat behind and we now have a got congested river, just like we get congested highways. It’s still worth doing as the magnificent limestone peaks are still there, but the experience has changed over the years.

Professor Geoffrey Wall will highlight four topics of visitor management models in this session.

Which one is more important to protect the environment or to develop tourism?

Would you like to share your thoughts on this in the comments section below?

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Tourism Policy and Planning

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