The first section of the paper discusses the physical, cultural and social features that distinguish tourist destinations. The second part distinguishes between two developing and developed tourist destinations. The last section discusses the impact of climate change and the increased interest in sustainability for a tourist destination.
Cultural, Social and Physical Features Distinguishing
Rodriguez-Santos et al. (2013) maintain that the ability of destinations to attract tourists depends on the available features of interest. Such features include the cultural, social and physical characteristics of a place. They play a central role in influencing tourists’ perceptions regarding the destinations. The level of appeal of the destinations may also depend on the pre-conceived ideas and interests of tourists. For instance, human beings have psychological representation of reality around them (Rodriguez-Santos et al. 2013). In other words, regardless of the true image of a particular destination, people may develop different opinions about the place. The psychological representations differ from one individual to another. Once the cultural, social and physical features have been experienced by many people, it may lose value. People share their cultural experiences through documentaries, journals and books. In other words, people always seek new destinations that have not been flooded by other tourists (Hudman & Jackson 2003).
Cultural studies focus on how traditional communities live in different places. The traditional communities have diverse customs, art, music, diets, religious beliefs, architectural designs and history. Cultural features may also include historic cities that have facilities such as museums and theatres (Hudman & Jackson 2003). The cultural features influence how people live in such different parts of the continent. People are attracted to different cultures because they want to develop first-hand experiences to satisfy their cultural curiosities. For instance, tourists visit Caribbean countries such as Bahamas and Cuba to experience their distinctive diet. The social features that distinguish various places may include festivals, rituals, values, lifestyle and manner of worship. The uniqueness of the social practices attracts people who would like to develop authentic experiences of the features (Hudman & Jackson 2003). The physical features that distinguish various places include mountains, valleys, water bodies, wildlife environmental conditions and beaches (Hudman & Jackson 2003). The physical features may be natural or manmade. The aspects of the physical features vary from one place to another. For instance, during winter seasons in European countries, most people travel to places such as Kenya and Tanzania to experience their warm climate and sandy beaches. People visit Dubai to experience their architectural designs.
A Comparison of the Physical, Cultural and Social Features of Two Developing and Two Developed Major Tourist Destinations
Kenya (Developing) Tanzania (Developing) England (Developed) Greece (Developed)
Physical Features Malindi has extensive coral reefs and sandy beaches. The country also contains a part of the second largest freshwater lake in the world; lake Victoria. Mount Kenya is the second highest in Africa. Samburu national reserve attracts much wildlife because of river Ewaso Nyiro. Lamu Island is Kenya’s sceneries that have attractive landscapes. It also provides a native feeling because it has not been modified in any way since independence. The most famous physical feature in Tanzania is Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the highest mountain in Africa. The country also has various sandy beaches along the coastal areas. It has national parks such as Arusha and Katavi that host different species of wildlife. The region also has most rare wildlife species such as the black rhinos. The country has old buildings with ancient architectural designs such as the Stone Town in Zanzibar. England has a variety of preserved architectural designs such as Warwick Castle. The country also contains various amusement and theme parks such as pleasure beach black pool, Alton towers and Thorpe park among others. It has aquariums such as the blue planet aquarium and national sea life centre. Archeological sites and cities such as Thera, Acropolis of Rhodes, Acropolis of Lindos, Athens and Argos. The country also contains some geographical sceneries such as Samaria Gorge and mount Athos.
The 42 ethnic groups in Kenya make it a comprehensive resource for cultural studies. Each tribe has cultural practices that are unique. For instance, the Maasai community provides attraction because of the way they have preserved their culture in the midst of civilization brought by technology and industrialization.
The unique combination of historic and cultural factors has influenced the people to develop common ideas regarding pride and cohesion. The development of common ideas has helped the country to remain peaceful for a long time while other countries such as Uganda engage in civil wars. The theme of nationalism has been achieved because of the fact that the different ethnic groups in the country have a common language and similar cultural practices.
England attracts tourists because it has various ancient evidences of cultural histories. Such evidences are contained in historic houses, museums and gardens among others. Part of their heritage is manifested in the way they preserve nature.
The people of Greece have rich ancient histories regarding war and their way of life. The most outstanding aspect of this feature exists in the way they have managed to preserve some intimate aspects of their history through artifacts and museums.
The diversity in the ethnic groups also provides a range of social features that attract tourists. The country has 42 different languages, various religions. There are distinct practices or manner of worship within religions. For instance, within Christianity, there are the “Legio Maria” from Luo community and “Akorino” from the Kikuyu community”.
The most outstanding social feature of Tanzania is the Swahili language. Most scholars maintain that the people from the region speak the original form of the language. They also have a distinctive type of music. The region is dominated by the Christian and Islamic religions.
The country has one of the largest street festivals in the world; the Notting hill festival. It also has one of the largest Latin-America festivals in the world; Carnaval del Pueblo.
The Athens Festival is one of the largest in the world. It has a history that extends to more than 50 years. The festival has distinctive music, theatre and dance style.
Cohen classified tourists into four categories depending on their characteristics. The categories include the organized mass tourist, the individual mass tourist, the explorer and drifter (Woodside & Martin 2008). The organized mass tourists are the least audacious. They harbor simple needs and spend a lot of time in fixed locations. The individual mass tourists may use facilities provided by the tour companies. Explorers arrange their trips and accommodation. They may live within the communities as an integration strategy (Woodside & Martin 2008). Drifters tend to identify with the host communities by engaging in income generating activities. Greece is known for her archeological sites and attractive landscape. Most of the people who visit archeological sites are explorers. They have independent transport system and move from one site to another (Sharma 2005). Greece has several archeological sites. The individual mass tourists focus on experiencing the landscape of most regions within Greece. They rely upon tour guides to help them navigate places (Sharma 2005).
The key characteristics in Kenya that attract tourism are the diversity in wildlife species, cultural diversity and constantly warm climate. Based on Cohen’s classification of tourists, the organized mass tourists visit most parts of the coastal regions with the sole purpose of enjoying the warm climate and life at the beach of Malindi (Sharma 2005). The people who visit the national and game reserves fall under the individual mass tourists. They seek to experience the diverse wildlife species in different national and game parks. They rely on tour guides for facilities and operate from particular places such as hotels (Sharma 2005). The group that is attracted by the diverse cultural practices in Kenya is explorers. They live and bond with the community members (Sharma 2005). Most of them are scholars who seek to make documentaries of such communities.
Impact of Climate Change and the Increased Interest in Sustainability for a Tourist Destination
Gossling et al. (2012) maintain that climate change affects the demands of tourists. The nature of the demands is influenced by the response of tourists regarding the mitigation plans. A change in climate conditions ruins the initial plans of tourists. The mitigation plans impacts on transportation systems, destinations and economic development of societies (Gossling et al. 2012). Most tourists have back-up plans that they use to substitute time, destinations and the nature of holidays in cases that involve drastic climate changes. The climate condition of a particular destination is one of the factors that motivate a tourist’s choice of the place. In other words, climate changes compel tourists to resort to change their initial plans for more favorable regions. The change of plans affects the sustainability of tourism of a particular region (Gossling et al. 2012).
Gossling, S., Scott, D., Hall, M. C., & Dubois, G 2012. Consumer Behaviour and Demand Response af Tourists to Climate Change, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 36-58.
Hudman, L. E., & Jackson, R. H. (2003). Geography of travel & tourism. Clifton Park, NY, Thomson/Delmar Learning.
Rodriguez-santos, M.C., Gonzalez-fernandez, A.,M. & Cervantes-blanco, M 2013. “Weak cognitive image of cultural tourism destinations”, Quality and Quantity, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 881-895.
Sharma, K. K. (2005). Tourism and development. New Delhi, Sarup & Sons.
Woodside, A. G., & Martin, D. (2008). Tourism management: analysis, behaviour and strategy. Wallingford, UK, CABI Pub.