A Critical Assessment of a Tourism Plan
Discussion of the Hawai’i Planning Process
Tourism planning process needs to be a collaborative effort among all the stakeholders involved in the planning process. The success of any tourism lies in the harmonious working and collaboration of all the stakeholders (Bramwell & Sharman, 1999; Byrd, Cárdenas, & Greenwood, 2008; Timur & Getz, 2008). Byrd (2007) describes stakeholders as any group of people or an individual who has the power to affect or is affected by the development of tourism in their area. In Hawaii, tourism affects everyone including local communities, government, private businesses, unions, and visitors. The HTA recognized that the involvement of all stakeholders who are passionate and concerned about the future of tourism would positively contribute to the successful implementation of the plan. For this plan, major stakeholders were identified as: Hawai’i State Government Agencies which includes thirty four agencies including the Legislature and Judiciary; City and County of Honolulu which consists if the island of O’ahu, any other island that may not be included in any of the other counties and adjacent waters; County of Maui which consists of islands of Maui, Lana’I, Moloka’I and Kaho’olawe as well as any other island that may be within three nautical miles off the shores and adjacent waters except for part of Moloka’I island called Kalawao, Kalaupapa and Waikolu and Kalaupapa settlement; The Hawai’i Congressional Delegation which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate which are part of the Congress of the United States; Direct Tourism Stakeholders which consists of all Hawai’i transportation associations, all restaurant associations, all hotel and lodging associations, all, economic development boards and all marketing, public relations, language services and advertising agencies (HTA, 2005).
Out of all these stakeholders, local communities are especially important since their input led to the development of strategies and plans that ensured that their local attitudes, beliefs and values are preserved while still showcasing the areas beauty to visitors. Additionally, local communities in any tourism plan including the Hawai’i plan ensure that local resources are protected and their overall quality of life is improved from the development of tourism (Faulkner & Tideswell, 1997; Milne & Ewing, 2004). Collaboration and participation of all these stakeholders’ especially local communities was achieved by HTA through conducting of organized meetings and focus groups. These meetings yielded different opinions about what the stakeholders hoped to benefit from the tourism industry and the concerns they would like addressed. Doing this enhanced democracy on making decisions about the specific areas that these stakeholders are affected with as opposed to leaving all the decisions to the HTA. For this plan, the concerns that were expressed by all stakeholders and that were effectively incorporated into the plan as part of the objectives were: to take care of the state’s natural resources; honor native Hawaiian culture; respect and include the entire state community when it comes to tourism matters; increase awareness of the tourism industry to all stakeholders; provision of a safe and secure environment for visitors and visitors; improve inter-counties air transportation service; improve visitor experience and coordinate tourism efforts across the entire state while at the same time recognizing that each county is unique in its own way (HTA, 2005). Stakeholders in this plan were also engaged in development of their own strategic plans that yielded in further development of specific action plans that relate to their specific objectives and goals.
Apart from formal planning, this plan also utilized adaptive planning strategies which allows tourism plans to change when needed to make sure that they respond effectively to changing circumstances and be more inclusive of the needs and knowledge of all stakeholders involved in the planning process. Hall and Page (2014) argue that planning systems need to be able to adapt and change so that they can learn to be effective. Miller and Twining-Ward (2006) support this notion by arguing that uncertainty should be dealt with through a continuous process of experimenting, monitoring and social learning. With regards to this plan, since it is a long- range plan, efforts were put into place to continually monitor and evaluate the plan’s progress in order to make adjustments where necessary so that all stakeholders remained on the same path to accomplish the shared vision at all times. To do this effectively, the plan’s success was measured using the previously monitored and evaluated every year. Each measure of success had its own specific indicators that assisted in measuring the degree of collective success of the plan in achieving the shared vision. In 2013, the HTA released their annual report on the success of the plan and found that the following adjustments needed to be made to enhance the plan’s effectiveness in achieving its objectives: develop strategic plans that would increase number of awareness meetings to stakeholders; develop an action plan that would increase the experience of Hawaiian experience to visitors to efficiently increase demand; and develop an action plan that increase availability of air seats to enhance visitor’s access to the State (HTA, 2013).
Careful examination of the plan and the subsequent annual reports produced by the HTA reveal that in most ways, the plan was successful in accomplishing the shared vision it set out to achieve. It was mostly successful in addressing the concerns of the local communities. However, the plan was unsuccessful since it did not effectively promote stakeholder participation. In order for all stakeholders to successfully participate in the planning process, it is assumed that many of the stakeholders know a great deal about the tourism industry. According to the opinions of the stakeholders, the county communities, which make up a large part of the stakeholders, are unaware of how the tourism operates and the contributions that the tourism industry has on the economy of the entire state. Since most of these stakeholders were not equipped with the necessary knowledge, they could not effectively contribute in the planning process. A few of the knowledgeable stakeholders were the ones who were able to contribute to the planning process therefore, forming biased opinions and resulting in biased decisions being made.
This plan also did not meet all the requirements of a sustainable tourism plan. For a tourism plan to be considered as sustainable, it needs to promote sustainable development in the following areas; economic, social-cultural and environmental. This plan main focused on the first two areas and left out the environmental issues. It failed to take into account changes in the tourism industry that may result from climate change. Failure to take into account these issues hinder the implementation of the entire plan since environmental improvements are not taken into account. For this reason, this plan needs to adapt in order to address these concerns and enhance its effectiveness.
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