Tourism Planning

  • Post last modified:2 October 2021
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Tourism planning like any planning is purpose-oriented, determined to accomplish some of the objectives by corresponding to the accessible resources and programs with the necessities and desires of the people.

Tourism as a whole is an activity that is judged as part of physical, environmental, social and economic planning. It is seen as a business activity, in which the public or private and individual stakeholders have different perspectives to plan it. But, the role of government agencies in developing countries is central to tourism planning.

Planning in tourism is setting and achieving the goals, keeping constraints in mind such as time, money etc. there are many approaches involved in tourism planning such as bottom-up approach, collaborative, boosterism, interactive, integrated etc. If you talk about planning in tourism in developing countries, it is generally taken by consultancy firms. But it has only been in the 1990s that tourism has been thought as a serious planning activity (Gunn, 1990; WTO 1994).

Tourism planning occurs at all levels international, national, regional and for specific areas and sites. National and regional planning establishes the policies, physical and institutional structures, standards for developments, while the local bodies generally implement them.

In 1992, Gunn spotted out that tourism industry was the result of the tourist’s desire to visit a particular location and culminated when his desires got fulfilled. According to him, planning helps tourism by critically reviewing the various choices available & to choose the most appropriate plan, so that the destination achieves the desired results in terms of economic and social aspects.

Hence, wherever planning is involved in tourism, the various things important are- reviewing the ground position w.r.t resources available (capital, material, human); setting objectives; appraisal of the various plans, selection of the most appropriate plan in tandem with the local community support & approach and achieving the desired results.

Importance of Tourism Planning

At all levels of tourism in order to achieve success, planning is vital for managing and developing tourism. This has been exemplified by many tourism destinations throughout the globe that planning that also long term can only lead to economic, socio-cultural and ecological benefits to both local community and tourists.

Following are the importance of tourism planning:

  • Development of linkages and co-ordination of tourism with other sectors through policy formulation.

  • Ascertaining the objectives and tourism policy in order to realize the goals.

  • Preserving & conserving the resources (natural/cultural/man-made) efficiently and effectively, so that they are also kept for coming generations also.

  • Planning can be used to upgrade and revitalize existing outmoded or badly developed tourism areas. Through the planning process, new tourism areas.

  • Integrating tourism policy at national, regional and local level.

  • Helps in making a tourism framework for effectual execution of hard work done both by public & private sector. The public sector creates an environment conducive for tourism development, while the private sector pours financial assets for developing tourism.

  • Helps in the harmonized growth of the various elements of the tourist sector through co-ordination and involvement.

  • It helps to maximize the benefits (economic, socio-cultural and ecological) to local community; poor people etc and help in impartial distribution of the benefits to everyone.

  • t helps to minimize the negative impacts of tourism, if any.

  • Right type of planning can ensure that the natural and cultural resources for tourism are indefinitely maintained and not destroyed or degraded in the process of development.

  • Developing specialized training facilities.

  • Achieving controlled tourism development requires special organizational structures, marketing strategies and promotion programmes, legislation and regulations, and fiscal measures.

  • Planning provides a rational basis for development staging and project programming. These are important for both the public and private sectors in their investment planning.

  • It promotes rational thinking and development for tourism growth and expansion.

  • It helps in formulation of a skeleton framework which directs the tourism development in terms of facilities, infrastructure, services and attractions.

  • Helps in formulation of tourism policy, plans and effective management of tourism areas, facilities etc.

  • Helps in creation of guidelines and standards which help in preparing detailed plans for developing tourism destinations and circuits.

  • Helps in incessant monitoring of the developmental activities of tourism.

  • Positioning tourism as a major engine of economic growth.

  • Developing suitable marketing plans with realistic, practical and sustainable targets.

  • Employing sustainable environmental practices.

  • Review of tourism polices and their evaluation.

  • Development of planning criterion and analysis of resources.

  • Providing adequate recreation opportunities and facilities in the tourist destination and tourist circuits.

  • Proper land- use and planning of the physical spaces.

  • Allocating an adequate level of funding for tourism programmes

In order to develop tourism, planning is done at all levels of tourism through policy formulation and planning activities. Though the nature and type of planning vary from one country to another ranging from developed to least developed countries.

But, tourism planning should have a firm foundation for which good research and study of the grass-roots level is very essential. Also, the plans need to be revised again & again based on the study results and likely future trends but retaining the basic structure.

Constraints in Tourism Planning

The constraints in tourism planning are:

  • Lack of community participation: The unwillingness of the people to participate in the tourism activity limits its future. The tourism planning and in fact tourism can only give positive results, if it receives people support at every stage of tourism process.

  • Limited budgets: Usually, government provides low or limited budgets to the tourism a Industry. And this makes tourism a very limited process.

  • Accuracy and reliability of market data: for planning and management is also a serious problem in tourism. If the market information is incomplete or hazy, then also the goals of the tourism planning would be affected.

  • Low priority accorded to the tourism sector: No, doubt, there has been a positive mindset w.r.t tourism in the Indian economy. But, still this sector deserves much more, then it has received.

  • The poor quality of infrastructure & facilities present at the attractions: also act as a constraint in tourism planning and development.

  • Quality of transportation service: The quality and quantity of transportation service is not very good. And needs great improvement.

  • Multiplicity and high level of taxation: also gives less inspiration to the tourism entrepreneurs and creates more & more obstacles for the tourism.

  • Facilitation of entry of tourists at ports(Airport/seaport/land port): The lengthy procedures involved in immigration should be made reasonable without giving the visitors much botheration and anxiety, before they visit the country for tourist purpose.

  • Poor communication & awareness: A sound plan without clear communication can lead to duplication of endeavors and create differences among the stakeholders of tourism. It can also lead to occurrence of feuds among the stakeholders and create complexity.

  • Conflict of interest: At times, the tourism policies can lead to conflict of interest among the stakeholders and create questions at the very start of the tourism planning. Hence, whenever policies are framed the local community should be involved at all levels, so that tourism policies not lead to planning failures.

Management constraints

  • Legislative constraints and adherence to rules/regulations/ executive orders: Touism planning will have to abide rules & regulation related to environment, wildlife, local resources. And at times, it also creates impediments for the overall tourism project or plan for a particular tourism area/destination or tourism project.

  • Environmental constraints: The presence of wetland, certain wildlife species, sensitive habitat, steep slopes, unstable soil, hazardous geologic conditions, tectonic movement, seismicity, critical habitat, lack of land base are the limiting factors or constraints in tourism development. And their incidence can create problems for infrastructure development and tourism planning.

  • Carrying capacity constraints: Carrying capacity is the ability of a place to accommodate fixed number of individuals without affecting the ecology of the place. But, if this threshold increases, then it affects the ecology and resource base of that place.

    Carrying capacity can be divided into four types i.e. (1) social, (2) physical, (3) environmental (or ecological), and (4) facility. So, all these carrying capacity are adversely affected, if the number of individuals increases. This is one of the biggest constraints in the tourism planning as it is often violated in tourism.

  • Apt understanding of ground realities: The improper understanding of ground realities can also lead to creation of tourism polices and tourism planning, which leads to no results. Hence, the policies become rudimental often at its inception stage.

  • Inactivity dilemma: For the tourism planning process, the nodal agency involved may have large infrastructure, bureaucracy, man power involved but may suffer from the fear of change. This mental state creates a lot of obstacles in the tourism planning.

Scope in Tourism Planning

Tourism planning has come a long way in the tourism development process. But still, there is ample scope for betterment. The scope of Tourism planning are briefly explained below:


Accessibility plays an important role in tourism planning. It provides mobility to not only the tourists, but also the tourism policy or plan. If the means of transport such as land, air and water are developed, it also makes ground for implementing the tourism plan at the grass-root level.


Accommodation is one of the important A’s of the tourism industry. It also increases the carrying capacity of a place by accommodating more tourists. But, currently in India, if we want to increase the flow of tourists, then we also need more hotels or accommodation facilities to accommodate them. Hence, the tourism plans should give a priority to develop them.

Tourist Activities

The tourist activities such as adventure activities, non-adventure activities, experiential activities in tourism such as in rural tourism, village tourism, Geotourism, ecotourism should be given more space in tourism development. And, these should be developed along with tourism concept as it gives more innovation to tourism, apart from enhancing the variety of experience to the tourists.

Product Development

The diversity of the tourism product should be enhanced to give a variety of experiences to all tourists suiting their age, taste and culture. Also, emphasis should be laid down to develop the tourism product through quality gradation and innovation.

Also, importance should be given to developing a native product which is unique, indigenous to the land and helps in portraying the image of the land in terms of its culture, heritage, cuisine, festivals, folklores, traditions, dance forms, dresses etc.

Tourism Zoning

Tourism zoning is an important aspect involved in tourism destination planning. It divides the tourist destination into various regions and segregates the tourist activity in those regions.

Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and Promotion are important elements in tourism planning and development. It needs more improvement in case of India. As, the tourism product of India is very diverse, indigenous and unique, still it lags in attracting the number of tourists. So, surely it is an area in tourism planning which needs great attention and careful planning.

Institutional Framework

Tourism development in India is institutionalized at a central level, state level and local level. But, still, there are large lacunas associated with it. The coordination of the institutions is delayed due to non-streamlined procedures, bureaucracy, nepotism, corruption etc and hampering the state of tourism in the country.

Statistics and Research

The tourism planning in India, still requires more research base and groundwork, prior to making the tourism policies. And, hence, if we want to improve our tourism planning and tourism policy, the research wings for the tourism industry have to be made sound and strong.

Legislation and Regulation

The existing legislation and regulations need to be revised to match up the current environment. Also, the legislation should be made keeping in mind the perspectives of all the stakeholders. They should not be made just by keeping the tourist in mind.

Quality Standards of Tourism Services

There has been great growth in the tourist infrastructure. But, in order to increase tourism competitiveness, importance have to be given on the quality of services and facilities. Also, the pricing of the tourism services is a big question. And, they should be made affordable keeping in consideration not only the foreign tourists, but also the domestic tourists whose role can also not be ignored.

Types of Tourism Planning

There are ‘n’ numbers of types of Tourism Planning. Some important ones are as follows:

  • Spatial Tourism Planning: The space as well as the environment is scrutinized for creating good quality infrastructure e.g. Jim Corbett National Park.

  • Sectorial Tourism Planning: Region to be developed is divided in to various broad sections called sectors e.g. South East Asia

  • Integrated Tourism Planning: Parts of a tourist region are integrated so that the region becomes a hot destination.

  • Complex Tourism Planning: When several regions are considered for planning which are far away e.g. Char Dham Yatra.

  • Centralized Tourism Planning: Single authority, usually state or central Government, no private sector intervenes.

  • Decentralized Tourism Planning: Parties who are keen to develop the spot, Government do not interfere. But it provides financial support.

  • Urban & Rural Tourism Planning:
    • Urban – modern infrastructure
    • Rural – culture, history, built from scratch

Levels of Tourism Planning

Tourism planning is implemented at different levels from the general level which may apply to an entire country or region down to the local level which may apply to detail planning for specific resort.

What is important to emphasize is the tourism planning and development must be integrated among all levels to take into account different levels of concern and to avoid duplication of efforts and policies.

Each level involves different considerations as follows:

  • International level: Tourism planning at the international level involves more than one country and includes areas such as international transportation services, joint tourism marketing, regional tourism polices and standards, cooperation between sectors of member countries, and other cooperative concerns.

  • National level: Tourism planning at the national level is concerned with national tourism policy, structure planning, transportation networks within the country, major tourism attractions, national level facility and service standards, investment policy, tourism education and training, and marketing of tourism.

  • Regional level: Tourism planning at the regional level generally is done by provinces, states, or prefectures involving regional policy and infrastructure planning, regional access and transportation network, and other related functions at the regional level.

  • Local or community level: Tourism planning at the local level involves sub regions, cities, towns, villages, resorts, rural areas and some tourist attractions. This level of planning may focus on tourism area plans, land use planning for resorts, and planning for other tourism facilities and attractions.

  • Site planning level: Site planning refers to planning for specific location of buildings and structures, recreational facilities, conservation and landscape areas and other facilities carried out for specific development sites such as tourism Uttarakhand Open University 48 resorts and may also involve the design of buildings, structures, landscaping and engineering design based on the site plan.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Boaz Aturinzire

    Your notes are up-to-date, thanks so much

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