An assessment of the impact of tourism globalization in Africa Thomas P. Z. Muff 1 Abstract The tourism sector is one of one of the exemplars of the phenomenon of globalization. This is due to the geographical scale of the industry, increased spatial linkages between places and people from different locations. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the extent to which tourism globalization had impacted on African countries.
The paper submits that some African countries have indeed increased their revenues and foreign currency earnings, created employment, brought new technology, and improved their tourism facilities and services to meet international standards. Globalization has created respect for African cultures and contributed to the protection of historical monuments and natural environments. The paper notes the role of technological improvements in transportation and telecommunications in making global travel shrink in terms of time and distance.
However, the paper notes that globalization has also brought negative impacts to Africa. These include financial leakages, price increases, and a change in some African cultural values. The paper concludes that the roll is in the era of globalization and that the phenomenon is here to stay. Therefore, the paper recommends that Africa should closely monitor the negative impacts of globalization while continuing to reap the benefits that accrue from tourism globalization. Key words: globalization, spatial linkages, multinational corporations, vertical and horizontal mergers.
Introduction Although the term globalization has now been in use for several years, its contemporary connotation is rooted in the study of international relations (Burns and Holder, 1995; You’ll, 1998). The word now cuts across the entire spectrum of academic tribalism’ as it is being defined differently by different scholars, depending on their subject perspectives. A geographical PhD (Assistant Professor) under the Urban Management Masters Program, a World Bank-funded Capacity Building Program, Ethiopians Civil Service College, Addis-Babe. Contacts: [email protected] O. UK, or tap. [email protected] Com. 2 Thomas P. Z. Muff perspective of the term has been presented by Short and Kim (1999) and Shaw and Williams (2002). The former see globalization as the stretching of activities across the globe while the latter regard the globalization phenomenon as a spatial deeding of the linkages between places, leading to the internationalization of cultures, more global flows of products and services and increased competition. Thus globalization has become a process that renders various activities and aspirations worldwide in scope.
Globalization has also become an umbrella term used for a complex series of economic, social, technological, cultural and political changes that are seen as increasing interdependence, integration and interaction between people and companies in different locations. In particular, it is due to the increase in worldwide easiness and trade between multinational and transnational corporations, among others, irrespective of their geographical locations, that the term has gained prominence (Cooper et al, 1998).
It is these inherent characteristics of globalization that have precipitated national boundaries to be more fluid or porous with respect to the movement of people and services. Globalization and the tourism industry The geographical widening of linkages between places has become a major factor in the development of international tourism, leading to the internationalization of tourism, leisure ‘culture?, more lobar flows of tourists, and increased competition (Tribe, 1 997; You’ll, 1998).
Through the process of intensification, the long-established trickles of tourists to the most distant corners of the globe have been transformed into large scale tourist flows (Waters, 1995). Shaw and Williams (2002) have added that tourism is, in many ways, one of the most powerful exemplars of globalization as the geographical scale of travel and trade has become greater than it used to be, with spatial interactions taking place over greater distances and ever wider circles.
Thus the globalization phenomenon has contributed significantly to the spread of tourists to the furthest reaches of the planet, including Africa, leading to the shrinking of the “pleasure Volvo. L NO. 2 seep. 2009 3 periphery’ as it trends, in its most innocuous sense, towards a single world society (Bally et al, 2004; Batik, 2006). As observed by Cochrane and Pain (2000), due to globalization, there is increasing host-guest interaction as apparently distant cultures and societies potentially come face to face with each other at local level.
Hence Waters (1995) observed that globalization is the stretched social relations in terms of the existence of ultra, economic, political, social and technological networks of connections across the world; the increased density of interactions across the globe; and the increased interactions between states which share common borders. As a consequence and to a very large extent, many travelers now conceptualize the world as a single place, leading to increased density of interactions and willingness by many people to travel to tourism destinations in Africa.
Factors facilitating globalization of the tourism industry A number of factors have played a major role in facilitating globalization in mineral and international tourism in particular. These include the increase in worldwide business and trade, technological developments in transport and communications, increased cultural and political interdependence, and the role of multinational and transnational corporations. 1. International Trade The globalization of the world economy has played a critical role in bringing about changes in business tourism.
As trade and foreign direct investments require travel abroad, they have undoubtedly contributed to the further globalization and growth of the business tourism industry. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTFO) (1983), the growth of international tourism and the increased movement of tourists have been fundamentally facilitated by shift to free markets. To this, Microsoft Incarnate (2000) added that the removal of trade barriers had also facilitated business tourism. 2. Technological Improvements 4 Thomas p. Z. Muff One of the often cited drivers of globalization is the improvement in new technology.
Improvements in transport and communications have fundamentally facilitated the growth and movement of international tourists. According to Shaw and Williams (2002), the process of globalization has significantly been advanced through technological developments in the fields of transport and communications, particularly long range aircrafts, the internet, computer reservations systems (CARS) and e-commerce. Microsoft Incarnate (2000) also affirmed that a whole world of new opportunities for business and trade has been opened up by technological improvements in transport and communication systems as well as by internet banking.
Due to the exponential growth in air transport, global travel has shrunk in terms of time and distance, allowing tourists to travel to distant international estimations with ease [World Tourism organization (MO), 1983]. Hence Bins et al (1999) are of the view that tourism was now quintessentially linked to the phenomenon of time-space compression. The deregulation of transport and trade around the world have also made business travel more competitive and allowed the emergence of budget airlines and cruise lines. According to Wisped. Mom (2006), these low cost carriers have facilitated travel and are the fastest growing trend in the tourism industry. Competition for terminal slots and space, for example, as well as the stage of maturity of the domestic ravel industry, has thus created the need for air travel to be expanded and harmonize regionally and internationally (Cooper et al, 1998; Knowles et al, 2001). According to Page (1999), information technology’ (IT) has particularly revolutionized the organization and management of tourist businesses.
For example, the introduction of computer reservation systems (CARS) and global distribution systems (GAS) in particular, has assisted the globalization of the supply side of tourist services. Ninepin (1998) estimated that there were over half a million GAS terminals around the world, injecting most of the world’s airlines to potential travelers. These include some of the largest terminals that allow travelers to choose their airline, check Volvo. L No. 2 seep. 2009 5 the time of flight, read the rules for travel and reserve their tickets online. The internet is probably the most important development underpinning the process of globalization.
According to Microsoft Incarnate (2000), the internet has tended to make national boundaries invisible, thus extending the ability of potential travelers to reach out across the globe in search of new travel information and opportunities. Most of the international and regional agencies, airlines, hotels as well as many travel associations and public sector bodies all now have their own websites aimed at promoting tourism around the world. The purchase of Internet-based entertainment has also greatly facilitated the rapid global dispersal of new forms of leisure activities.
This has reinforced the role of the increasingly global media in the social construction of desirable lifestyles (Page, 1998). The advances in e-commerce have seen tourism products becoming some of the most traded items on the internet Willpower. Com, 2006), thus making it much easier to choose, book and pay for holidays from the comfort of one’s home. Further more, in many parts of the world, including in Africa, credit cards can now be used to pay for any purchases online. 3. Rationalization Tourism globalization has been facilitated by increased interconnections between states that border with each other.
The spatial pattern Of macro-rationalization is particularly distinctive in the two largest international tourism flows between the United States of America (LISA) and Canada as well as the trans-Atlantic flows. In Western Europe, for example, rationalization has brought with it the promotion of the four freedoms”, that is, the free movement of capital, people, goods and services which, along with the open skies policy, have allowed companies to expand their operations across international borders (Shaw and Williams, 2002).
Sub-regional systems also exist between Europe and North Africa as well as between South Africa and most countries in Southern Africa (Jansen-Verbose, 1995). 6 Thomas P. Z. Muff 4. Role of Multinational Corporations Due to increased interconnections; the volatile and erratic nature of the international tourism demand; as well as the hyperventilation worldwide, the tourism industry has been characterized by the active involvement and dominant role played by multinational corporations (Macs) and transnational corporations (Tans).
According to Page (2005), some international companies have taken advantage of globalization to seek for new opportunities to grow their enterprises, reap the benefits of the economies Of scale, increase their market share, suppress competition, and achieve global dominance. As a result, the world has witnessed a flurry of different NC and TNT tragedies such as vertical and horizontal alliances, mergers, acquisitions, as well as formal linkages.
According to Burns and Holder (1995), vertical integration is a business practice whereby companies at different levels in the distribution chain seek to control various stages of production, delivery and marketing of their products. For example, some tour operators have grown from medium-sized national companies to truly international corporations that move millions of people around the globe each year (Burns and Holder, 1 995; Cooper et al, 1998). Similarly, a number of tour operators today have their own aircrafts ND hotels, while some airlines also offer chauffeur and car rental services (Demented, 2006).
Some global firms have also capitalized on these trends and produced standardized tourism products in order to contribute to the homogeneities of the world tourism market. Other business enterprises have sought to survive through horizontal integration whereby companies at the same level have sought mergers with companies at their level in the distribution chain (You’ll, 1998). The mergers have been characterized by either two companies offering competing services; a result of a takeover of one company by another; or a laundry agreement between two companies.
Within the aviation industry, horizontal integration has resulted in some airlines expanding their operations into different countries. The British Airways, for Volvo. L No. 2 seep. 2009 7 example, have forged a trans-Atlantic alliance with American Airlines (Cooper et. Al, 1998). Horizontal integration has also been achieved through licensing and franchising. According to Knowles et al (2001), franchising is a contractual agreement whereby a firm allows another to sell products and provide services on its behalf for a fee. This is also evident in the tourism industry.
According to Shaw and Williams (2002), this is the case with such brand names as the six corporate chains Choice, Best Western, Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt, and Radios of America, Holiday Inn, Forte, and Hilton of the United Kingdom, Accord and Club Mediterranean of France and Inter-Continental of Japan. To these one can add McDonald’s, Wimpy, Avis Rent-a-car, etc. 5. Country image Although tourists may vary in type, they all tend to be influenced by images of destinations and activities. The importance of image within tourism is such that the World Tourism Organization (1979, quoted by Cooper et al. 93:25) have suggested that the term image embraces “the ideas, conceptions held individually or collectively of a destination”. Thus ‘destination image’ has become so catholic and taken a wider currency that it is now taken to mean “the totality of beliefs and impressions that tourists, individually or collectively, have regarding each tourist destination. This is because tourism is a very sensitive phenomenon that involves the movement of people, not goods or commodities. To boost the image of their countries, some governments have used Macs to create good impressions about their countries.
Incentives and tax concessions have been used to attract Macs. This is because a country that is shunned by international investors is, consequently, shunned by tourists.