Tourism clusters are areas –often encompassing many tourism sites- that are internally homogeneous or with a distinct character. Defining clusters is structuring the territory in smaller geographical areas which help us identify where the tourism activity is carried out and where it can be developed, among other issues.
To assess competitiveness in a cluster there has to be analyzed both the value created by the tourism activity for the tourists and the local community, and the efforts demanded to the tourists and the local community. These two main assessments are to be structured in the following points:
The value created for the tourists and the local community:
- Experiences lived, namely those that result from the services provided, which are the main purpose of the trip and account for the greatest importance in the value assessment.
- Feelings, sensations and emotions experimented on as a result of the destination atmosphere, natural and urban landscape, local hospitality, sounds, smells, illumination, etc.
- Service Quality provided, in relation to the service standards stated in the accommodation ratings and expectations of all services in accordance with international standards.
- Positive impact created by the tourism activity in the local community and environment, namely in terms of job creation, wealth distribution, heritage conservation, etc.
The efforts demanded to the tourists and the local community:
- Discomforts suffered as a result of pollution, noise, lack of cleanliness, poor comfortableness of transport, restoration or accommodation services, long transfers, congestion issues, etc.
- Risks perceived and insecurities associated to lack of transparency in the deals, criminality, lack of understanding due to language barriers, poor quality of transport means, etc.
- Price paid including all services, payment facilities commissions (credit card and check allowance), currency exchange rate & commissions, complements’ price, etc.
- Negative impact created by the tourism activity on the environment, congestion issues affecting the locals lives, business spoiling the local culture, landscape destruction, etc.
The optimum way to carry out this assessment is through surveying the tourists on site when visiting the cluster area, with open questions first and closed questions regarding all relevant items after. Tourists’ assessment and satisfaction is the best indicator to consider, though the budget available to do this assessment is not always sufficient, and then the experts’ assessment on site is the best alternative. Further, to assess the positive and negative impacts, the survey should be carried out by surveying the local population on their satisfaction about the aforementioned issues. Impact such as the environmental should be assessed by specialized experts, as they are not always visible to the eyes of the population.
The Whitepaper “Clustering strategy” deepens in cluster competitiveness analysis, cluster definition and development as a key strategy within the destination development.
Would you consider other methods to assess cluster competitiveness?