Visitor Attraction Management
(LO 1) Legoland, Denmark and the Sydney Opera House
LEGOLANDÂ® Billund is Denmark’s most famous and popular amusement park for families and children of all ages (Legoland Billund Resort, 2012). Legoland Billund opened on June 7, 1968 in Billund, Denmark. The park is located next to the original Lego factory which has been a primary economic driver for the entire community since Ole Kirk Christansen began manufacturing Legos mid-century. Because of the Lego factory providing many local jobs, the Lego brand and business had already been integrated into the local culture before the construction of the park. However, after the park was built it became an immediate success and serves as one of the top three attractions in Europe attracting close to two million visitors per year. Therefore, the Lego factory and the Legoland theme park are the primary drivers of economic activity for the entire community.
The attraction is composed of millions of Lego brand blocks that have been constructed to form images of many famous attractions from around the world. The Legoland Park is a family park however the focus is on children. The largest attraction at the park is a new rollercoaster ride, the Polar X-Plorer which boasts a five meter “free-fall.” Accommodation options include the Hotel Legoland which consisted of a four star hotel that is themed similarly to the park to provide a comprehensive Lego experience. There are over fifty different attractions and activities that are offered at the park and the promotional literature cites the following (Legoland Billund Resort, 2012):
“Join us again this year to rediscover all your favourite, well-known LEGOLAND attractions. Explore fascinating Miniland, the incredible world built from millions of LEGOÂ® bricks. Watch your children get their first driving licence at the Toyota Traffic School. Enjoy sharing the thrill of riding The Dragon roller coaster at the King’s Castle. Take the submarine down to the sharks in Atlantis by SEA LIFEâ„¢. Bake campfire bread with Chief Longears, and pan for gold in the Wild West. Remember to bring both swimwear and an eyepatch, so you can join in the wet and wild sea battle in Pirate Lagoon. And be sure to keep your head cool and your trigger warm, when you embark on the awesome treasure hunt in THE TEMPLE. There are more than 50 exciting attractions and a series of amazing events waiting just for you. In LEGOLAND there is always speed, action and excitement for the whole family.”
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera is an entirely different type of attraction than Legoland. The opera house first opened in 1973, and is considered one of the greatest architectural works of the 20th century; it is said to bring together multiple strands of creativity and innovation in both architectural form and structural design (UNESCO, 2013). The Opera House is situated on Bennelong Point, which reaches out into the harbour and consists of three groups of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ which roof two main performance halls and a restaurant. These shell-structures are set upon a vast platform and are surrounded by terrace areas that function as pedestrian concourses. The Sydney Opera house (Australian Government, N.d.):
Was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon
Was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973
Presented, as its first performance, The Australian Opera’s production of War and Peace by Prokofiev
Cost $AU 102,000,000 to build
Conducts 3000 events each year
Provides guided tours to 200,000 people each year
Has an annual audience of 2 million for its performances
Includes 1000 rooms
Is 185 metres long and 120 metres wide
Has 2194 pre-cast concrete sections as its roof
Has roof sections weighing up to 15 tons
Has roof sections held together by 350 km of tensioned steel cable
Has over 1 million tiles on the roof
Uses 6225 square metres of glass and 645 kilometres of electric cable
The Sydney Opera House has been estimated to attract over seven million visitors per year as well as contribute more than one billion dollars to the Australian economy through tourism, hospitality, travel, and other related activities while simultaneously supporting over twelve thousand jobs (Duscio, 2010).
The Sydney Opera House and Legoland are substantially different types of attractions. However, despite their differences, they both draw an international base of visitors that stimulate the local economies through a multiplier effect. Each visitor to these attractions not only spends money at the actual attraction but also at local business such as restaurants, retail stores, and at hotels. Therefore these attractions represent a significant addition to the entire local economy. It is estimated that the Sydney Opera House generates over a billion dollars a year for the local economy. Furthermore, each attraction also furthers the development of a local culture. For example, the Lego brand is so deeply embedded in the local culture that it is nearly impossible to describe the town without some mention of this attraction or the manufacturing facility and the same can be said about the Sydney Opera House.
Varieties of Tourist Attractions
There are a wide variety of tourist attractions that appeal to an even wider consumer base. A tourist attraction is anything that is of interest to a person in which they travel to see. These attractions can be interesting based on their natural beauty, historical significance, cultural value, amusement prospects, among others and many of these sites can fall under multiple classifications. For example, Westminster Abbey is both an event gathering place (church) as well as a historical building. There are also different niche areas within the broader varieties. For example, Cape Town South Africa has become a special interest tourism (SIT) site that caters to the gay community and attracts homosexuals from all over Africa as well as internationally (Hattingh, et al., 2011). Although this may not seem like an important demographic, couples who are members of this community often have double incomes and no children (DINK) and can have a substantial impact on the Cape Town economy which was estimated to be R26 million per night in 2009 which serves as another example of economic advantages that a healthy tourism industry can bring a community.
Different individuals have vastly different interests based on their preferences for tourism. There are a multitude of different rating systems that attempt to compare tourist attractions. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes a list of World Heritage sites that consists of 962 different properties that are considered important to the world culture or natural heritage. Some of the top destinations in this list according to reviews on a popular website known as Trip Advisor were compiled into a top ten list of tourist attractions worldwide (Johnson, 2010). This list shows the diversity that is inherent in different attractions.
1. Taj Mahal, India
2. Petra / Wasi Muda, Jordan
3. Palmyra, Syria
4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
5. Abu Simbel, Egypt
6. Prambanan Temples, Indonesia
7. City of Venice, Italy
8. Siena, Italy
9. Easter Island, Chile
10. Trentino Dolomites, Italy
Motivations of Attraction Visitors
There are various models that have been proposed to attempt to explain the motivations of travelers. There are two important factors that comprise of an individual’s motivation to travel to an attraction. The first is a push factor that that lies within an individual that drives them to want to seek an attraction and the pull factors are related to the characteristics of the attraction that pull individuals or families to them (Plangmarn, et al., 2012). Push factors are socio-psychological motives such as the desire for escape, novelty seeking, adventure seeking, dream fulfillment, rest relaxation, health and fitness, prestige, and socialization. Based on the push factor in which the individual bases their decision, pull factors will include the type of attraction, the proximity, the accommodations and many other factors.
The Legoland attraction is likely significantly different than the Sydney Opera House in terms of its pull potential. Legoland’s target tourist is the nuclear family while the Sydney Opera House appeals to a wider demographic based on the shows or activities being performed there. One research study gather qualitative data from thirty five families who visited Legoland in Denmark and found that they were composed of “modern” or “nuclear” families who took their children to the attraction as an isolated leisure event. However the pull factors that are associated with the Sydney Opera House are more related to culture and the related items that are inherent in the Australian cultural icon. Whereas Legoland generally targets market segments for a single visit, the changing content and shows that the Sydney Opera House produces is more suitable for repeat visitors.
Visitors Effects on the Surrounding Areas
Tourism’s economic effects are substantial for many areas in the world. For example, in Tanzania the tourism industry accounts for nearly twelve percent of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP) and tourism is a popular economic development strategy (Spencer & Rurangwa, 2012). The economic benefits of tourism are numerous, and include (Spencer & Rurangwa, 2012):
The creation of jobs directly or indirectly. Direct jobs include tourist guiding, travel consultancy, airline and tour operations, and hospitality employment. Jobs were also created in supporting industries and services such as security, food production, and retail business. Tourism had an additional benefit of an income multiplier effect on the economy and the job market.
Tourism promoted increased spending on local produce and products since visitors support local businesses.
Local entrepreneurship was also promoted as residents showcased their various skills and knowledge in fields such as arts and crafts, tourism services such as tourist guiding, and retail shops and local market ventures that included street vending.
Economic diversification was another important positive benefit that was associated with tourism, which offered an additional source of income that insured local communities against difficult times in instances where traditional industries such as agriculture, fishing or mining fall under distress, and Massive infrastructural development was often associated with tourism in both an employment creator and catalyst for future economic prosperity.
Both Legoland and the Sydney Opera House have served as significant drivers for their local communities in a variety of ways. As previously mentioned, the Sydney Opera House contributes over a billion dollars to Sydney annually based on tourism and the money multiplier effects that it has. It also creates roughly twelve thousand jobs directly as well as supports employment indirectly through other activities such as shopping in which tourists engage in on their trips. Visits to the Sydney Opera House can also support other nearby attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef which can foster a greater appreciation for the environment and issues such as ocean acidification. Legoland has also served as the cornerstone of the Billund’s economic development since the Lego factory preceded the theme park. Furthermore, the Legoland attraction is also beneficial to the city of Copenhagen because many of the visitors will travel through Copenhagen on their way to Bilund because of the international airport. Therefore the multiplier effect also applies to Copenhagen as well for the Legoland attraction Each attraction has supported economic activity through its unique contribution to the local community as well as the surrounding communities.
Another good example of the impacts of tourism on local economics can be provided by Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States. The town was officially established as a city in the early twentieth century and has experienced an enormous amount of growth despite being located in the desert and having to import virtually all of its resources; even water. Despite its arid location, Las Vegas has become the fastest growing U.S. city that was established in the twentieth century (City of Las Vegas, N.d.). Its rapid growth and dependence on tourism has had interesting implication in respects to the local economy.
The local Las Vegas economy is driven almost solely by tourist activities. Casinos, resort destinations, and luxury retail shopping account are the primary economic drivers. However, since the recession of 2008 devastated the tourist industry in general, Las Vegas was among the hardest hit in the world. The loss in tourism activities had implications for the local employment opportunities. Most of the businesses in Las Vegas had to downsize their staff due to the fact that there was less tourism. The local unemployment rate rose over twelve percent, well above the national average, and there are many other signs of painfully slow economic recovery (Green, 2012).
Given the cities over reliance on tourism, many public officials are calling for bold the use of public funds to stimulate the local economy and create economic diversification (IEDC, 2011). Since Las Vegas economy is disproportionally dependent on tourism to drive the local economy, the city’s economic position is subject to extreme swings based on the overall health of the economy. Although Las Vegas’s growth has come from nearly solely from tourism, it has reached a point in its development in which diversification away from tourism could help the destination achieve more economic stability when the macroeconomic environment is less than hospitable.
There are many aspects to the development of an attraction that must be considered. Even with established attractions there must be continuous promotion, maintenance, and updating of the attractions facilities. For example, a billion dollar renovation of the Sydney Opera House was proposed in 2010 to modernize the facilities (Clennell, 2009). Although the funding for this renovation was originally denied, parts of the renovation are still underway in a series of smaller phases. New attractions have even more challenges than established venues. They must develop their operating model from the ground up while historical and natural attractions already have an appeal that is inherent in their existence.
Centre Parcs UK is an attraction in the U.K. that consists of multiple sites. Center Parcs started out nearly 50 years ago as a small campsite in the south-eastern corner of Holland when the owner of a sporting goods outlet store owner bought a private wooded area for his friends and employees to camp at (Davies, 2012). With an ethos of fun family holidays in a forest location, it grew rapidly and after two decades of success in Europe it came to the UK in 1987. There are several European locations with similar sites however, despite using the same name and branding, the UK division was sold off in 2001 and operates the four British parks as a separate entity. However, much of the attraction model and the company’s philosophy remains the same as its European counterparts.
Centre Parcs UK latest attraction development will be a holiday village development in Bedfordshire known as Center Parcs Woburn Forest. This will be the fifth development in the UK and will consist of 625 lodges across the 365 acre site that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014 (ISG, N.d.). The construction of the facilities will be on a fifty nine-week fast track scheme with much of the structures being assembled off-site and assembled in their final locations to expedite the construction phase. Centre Parcs has worked with the local government to coordinate economic and environmental aspects of the development to ensure that the local community benefits through initiatives such as (Central Bedfordshire, N.d.):
An employment strategy will make sure Center Parcs recruits local people for the site.
A local procurement plan means they will look to source services from businesses within a 20-mile radius.
An ecology management plan to protect the site’s wildlife interests and diversity.
The feasibility of the site faced many challenges in the early stages of the project such as fostering local support. Once the local community became accepting of the project, only then could the project begin development. The construction of the site was facilitated somewhat by the fact that the contractors had already had a long standing relationship with the firm from working on other sites which also allowed the construction phase to be fast tracked. The fact that the organization has additional sites also makes employment and training much easier. For example, some employees were relocated from other sites to work at Woburn Forest and others will receive training at other Centre Parcs from employees who already have experience in that particular position.
Visitor Supply and Demand
Tourism demand can be broken down into three different types of demand which are referred to as actual, suppressed, and latent demand (University of Pretoria, N.d.). The actual demands, or effective demand, are the tourists who are actively engaged in the tourist process. Suppressed demand refers to tourist that would prefer to travel but cannot do so for circumstances beyond their control. These consumers may travel at some later date. The final category of demand is the latent demand in which is the demand that exceeds the supply that is available. These travelers may also opt to travel at a later time.
The supply of tourism is dictated by the capacity of different locations to accommodate guests. However, the supply also extends further down the tourism supply chain to also include infrastructure, transportation, travel agencies, tourist offices and many other services that must be present to make travel possible for consumers. Although tourism is generally thought of as being an inclusive service offering, in some cases the tourist can piece together their travels from many different vendors and service providers who are entirely unrelated to each other. Therefore, much of the tourism supply chain can be highly fragmented and up to the consumer to piece together.
Figure 4 – Tourism Supply Chain (University of Pretoria, N.d.)
Attraction mangers greatest tools for making bringing supply and demand into balance are price and promotion. As the price increases, demand decreases. Conversely, as the price decreases the demand will generally increase. The goal for management should be to fill capacity by adjusting the price accordingly. For example, during the peak season the attraction should charge their highest rate for tourists. If the demand still exceeds the supply then the organization might even consider raising their prime season pricing. However, during the offseason or any non-peak periods the organization can substantially lower their prices and offer promotions to try to fill capacity. By adjusting the price, this allows the organization a substantial amount of control over tourist demand. When the price is lowered this substantially adds to the pull factor that can draw in more visitors to fill demand as needed.
Figure 5 – Tourism Demand Components (University of Pretoria, N.d.)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) integration with tourism industry will likely become more important to consumers in the near future. Despite the fact that more and more tourist organizations are embracing sustainability and CSR concepts, many tourist locations are slow in promoting their dedication to sustainability. However, the demographic that consider sustainability is rapidly expanding as the science around issues such as climate change are becoming more salient.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and related social and environmental issues have received increased amount of attention in recent years. Even in developing countries, such as China, CSR seems to be gaining a lot of traction (Moon & Shen, 2010). There seems to be some public’s skepticism toward the ethical abilities of private institutions (Weissman, 2008). Furthermore, environmental concerns are also growing and recently, despite the global recession, greenhouse gas emissions are still accelerating at an unparalleled rate in human history (Associated Press, 2011).
The climate and the effects of climate change are likely to have several implications for the hospitality and tourism industries. One example would be from restriction on travel emissions are emission taxes that could increase the costs of travel and would reduce the number of vacationers (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). In response to raising environmental concerns, one response in the tourism industry has been the rise in Eco-Tourism Consumer in this segment will demand even more from organizations to ensure their tourist activities do not impact the environment in an excessively negative way. Many predict that the next generation of Eco-Tourism will likely be far beyond that of previous generations. One example of a new design concept uses portable glass pods to allow visitors to be closer to their natural environment without making a substantial footprint on their surroundings.
The demand for sustainable tourism will likely see increased growth in years to come. To meet these demands, CSR is built into the design of every aspect of the organization to attract these consumers and the levels of competition for these consumers will also become fiercer. Consequently strategy development must consider both social and environmental impacts of the business, ideally during the models development. Organizations such as the Centre Parc will have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this trend given the fact that their operating models make good use of natural resources while also protecting biodiversity as well as educational opportunities for its visitors (Centre Parc, N.d). In fact, Centre Parcs aim is to be one of the leading sustainable ‘Large Scale Tourism Destinations’ in the UK. This will likely position the attraction to take advantage of industry trends well into the future.
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