Tourists’ taxonomy as a management tool for destination competitiveness
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The increasing competition for tourist markets among nations calls for destination managers to adopt customer-centric approaches to gain sustainable competitive advantages. In the case of Zimbabwe, (the setting of this study), the destination has been experiencing a plethora of challenges which require multi-faceted strategies from both the supply and the demand perspectives. This study proposed that focusing on the consumer, in the context of taxonomies, can enable destination authorities to effectually and adeptly deploy destination resources to specific market segments, thereby enhancing destination competitiveness for the targeted markets. Further, the study was motivated by the realisation that tourist typologies have had a bias towards destinations in Europe and America and that no studies have been made specifically in Zimbabwe to establish the taxonomies of its diverse multicultural market. The study was guided by seven objectives. The major goal was to establish the tourist taxonomies of Zimbabwe and illustrate how taxonomies can be used as a management tool for enhancing destination competitiveness. The first two objectives were based on literature review, while objectives three to seven were empirical. Statistical Package of the Social Scientists (SPSS) was used for conducting statistical analysis, which included Exploratory Factor Analysis, t-test, cluster analysis, ANOVAs and chi-square tests. The strength of the tests of association i.e. t-tests and Chi-square tests was determined by the calculation of effect sizes based on Cohen d values. The Cronbach’s alpha values and mean inter-item correlations were used to test the reliability and internal consistency of the variables used in the study. The first objective sought to gain a better understanding of tourist typologies/taxonomies and destination competitiveness with the ultimate aim of illustrating the importance of taxonomies in destination competitiveness. It was clear from the literature review that, there is scarcity of studies that explored the link between tourist types and destination competitiveness as well as how taxonomies can be used as sources of competitive advantage. The second objective critically reviewed literature on the Zimbabwe’s situation, regarding tourism markets and destination products. The literature illustrates the various challenges the country is facing, which warrants the need to come up with strategies for enhancing the competitive strength of the destination. It was evident from the analysis of literature on Zimbabwe, that the tourism industry in the country is experiencing a series of challenges and that demand-based strategies are not getting due recognition as sources of competitive advantage. This objective was achieved in Chapter 3. The third objective was targeted at establishing the demand drivers for the country’s tourism industry from the angle of the tourist, which information is essential for product development and the designing of marketing messages. This was achieved through examining the major reasons for visiting the country (tourist motivations). It was established that the desire for novelty was the primary driver for tourist flows into the country, while the availability of wildlife, scenery and culture were the major destination attributes generating demand for the country’s tourism product. This objective was achieved in Chapter 5. The Fourth objective set to evaluate the competitive strength of the destination from a tourist perspective by ascertaining tourist perceptions on destination attributes and services. Such information allows destination managers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the destination and then come up with relevant market-based intervention strategies. Core resources, hospitality, safety and relaxation opportunities emerged as the key strengths of the destination, while pricing and accommodation, activities and facilities/accessibility received low ratings from tourists. Fifth objective sought to establish the tourist preferences, to allow destination managers to develop tailor made tourism products and services. Environmentalism, social involvement and activity/adventure emerged as the key preferences for Zimbabwe’s market, while preference for travel services is diminishing. The desire for familiarity was the least favoured preference dimension. Findings on this objective are, to a greater extent, consistent with the changing tastes of the contemporary tourist. Objective six aimed to establish the tourist taxonomies for Zimbabwe. Four types of tourists with different demands on the destination were identified, namely the Cautious New Tourist (CNT), the Patriotic Tourist (PT), The Independent Tourist (IT) and the Indifferent Tourist (IDT). The resultant tourist taxonomies were also profiled in relation to motivations, competitiveness perceptions as well as demographic characteristics. The seventh objective focused on developing a Tourist Taxonomy Competitiveness Framework (TTCF) and draw conclusions on how tourist taxonomies can be used as a management tool for enhancing destination competitiveness’. A Tourist Taxonomy Competitiveness Framework (TTCF) highlighting competitiveness strategies for each tourist type was developed. This framework is set to assist destination managers in their efforts to enhance the competitive strength of destinations as it provides them with a guiding framework on how to devise demand-based strategies to achieve the same. The construction of tourist taxonomies from a multicultural perspective, especially in the context of an African (non-western) country and the illustration of how tourist taxonomies can be used as a management tool for enhancing destination competitiveness using the TTCF, are the unique contributions of the study. This includes an attempt to relate tourist taxonomies to destination competitiveness.