Sandwiched between Canada and Mexico is the United States of America, a large country spanning over 3.7 million square miles. The population of the United States is over 325 million people and is considered the most diverse in the world as the USA has been the top stop for immigration since 1900s. Like its demographics, the geography is just as diverse with tropical beaches in Florida and mountain peaks in the Rocky Mountains. These demographic and geographical factors have been conducive to the development of tourism as an important industry in the country, providing billions of US dollars in revenue to the US economy. Tourism industry in the United States is well-developed, largely because of the number of major cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The United States of America has a number of competitive advantages when it comes to international tourism. For example, it is world famous for its amusement parks. Located in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the word, attracting around 52 million visitors annually (Hetter, 2017). For this project, Grand Canyon National Park has been selected. Grand Canyon of Arizona is a steep-sided canyon located in Arizona and attracts around 4.4 million visitors annually. Following France and Spain, the United States attracts the most tourists.
The United States has been selected as the destination for this project as it has a number of competitive advantages in terms of tourism. Currently, there exits an extensive range of tourist attractions such as amusement marks, landmarks, museums, hotels, and restaurants in the USA.
Culturally, the United States in unprecedentedly influential around the globe. The influence of US pop culture is prevalent around the globe, with movie theaters around the world screening Hollywood made movies. Likewise, the music industry in the USA remains the world’s biggest, and songs made in the USA have an international appeal (IFPF, 2017). The economy of the United States is the largest in the world, constituting around $19 billion USD (IMF, 2018). The economy of US accounts for a quarter of the global economy, testifying to its competitive advantage when it comes to tourism. The impact of infrastructure on tourism development is substantial, with Gunn (1988) citing infrastructure as one of the key determinants of tourism development. For example, the quality of roads ensures that the tourists can travel to other parts of a destination, while airports ensure the destinations are capable of receiving the visitors in a way that creates value for both visitors and the destination. The United States of America is ranked number one in the world for the availability of air tickets and number seven for the quality of its roads (World Economic Forum, 2017). These rankings are a testament to how developed the infrastructure is in the USA, and how it positively impacts tourism. Like in other industries, the motivation of visitors is a key determinant in tourism. The most prevalent motivational framework in tourism is the so-called the push-pull framework (Dann, 1977). The push-pull framework is a simple yet viable approach to understanding the motives behind tourism. Push factors are related to the needs and wants of visitors, and can include the desire for adventure, health and fitness, prestige, social interaction. Unlike push factors which are focused on the tourist demand, pull factors are focused on the supply side of tourism. Pull factors can best be defined as determinants which lead to an individual decide to go to one destination over another, and are exclusively destination-related determinants (Kleonskiy, 2002). The most authoritative list of these pull factors have been provided by Weaver and Lawton (2014) and is as follows;
- Geographical proximity to markets
- Accessibility to markets
- Availability of services
- Availability of attractions
- Cultural and spiritual links
- Peace, stability and safety
- Positive market image
- Pro-tourism policies
Accessibility to markets
Lee et al (2012) demonstrated that geographical proximity is one of the most important pull factors, and the impact of distance can be mitigated by the availability of quality transportation links such as air routes, freeways, airports, seaports and etc. The availability of these transportation linkages is referred to as structured accessibility. On the other hand, political accessibility concerns the conditions under which tourists are granted entry into the tourism destination. For instance, regimes such as Iran impose restrictions on travel from the USA and thus compromise the political accessibility of Iran as a tourist destination. On the other hand, tourism in Europe increased in tandem with the introduction and implementation of Schengen Agreement, reducing internal barriers to tourism. US attractiveness as a tourist destination is not complicated by either structural and political accessibilities, as the country boasts world-class infrastructure and its visas are available to most travelers.
Availability of services
The availability of hotels, visitor information centers, restaurants and other tourism-specific services is key in encouraging visitors to patronize one destination over another. Research demonstrates that the majority of tourists tend to avoid attractions if related services such as restaurants, visitor information centers are not available or are expensive. Likewise, for a destination to be attractive to visitors, the presence of services such as policing and medical are key, along with tourism-related services (i.e. hotels, visitor information centers) is essential. The availability of services is a key pull factor, with substantial implications for inbound tourism for a destination. Weaver and Lawton (2014) concur that in developed countries, the availability of such services is up to par. The USA fares well when it comes to the availability of services as most tourist attractions come with ancillary services such as restaurants and hotels.
Availability of attractions
Availability of attractions refers to the presence of tourist attractions in as destination, and has been cited as the most over-riding pull factor by the majority researches. Goeldner and Ritchie (2012) considered the availability of attractions as ‘the most important component of the tourism system and a major factor around which the development of a destination will depend’. Attractions can include amusement parks, theme parks, natural sceneries (i.e. Niagara Fall) and historical sites. The presence of family and friends and commercial opportunities do not fall within the remit of ‘availability of attractions’. The role of present attractions in ensuring tourists is contingent upon factors such as their quality, quantity, uniqueness and etc. The presence of attractions such as the Grand Canyon, New York City, Hollywood and Walt Disney theme parks constitute the pull factor of USA as a tourist destination and ensures that tourists keep coming to the USA.
Cultural and spiritual links
Even though most visitors tend to seek out new and exotic destinations, levels of similarities in culture, language, and religion coalesce into a powerful pull factor. For instance, British people tend to travel to Australia as both countries share the same language and have similar cultures. Spiritual links occur when both the tourist and the destination have the same religion and can be demonstrated in how Muslims tend to do pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, Roman Catholics to the Vatican and other cities. Regarding the USA, the presence of culturally- important attractions such as Walt Disney World theme park and Hollywood ensure that the USA is a top destination for tourism.
Positive market image
Beliefs, attitudes and both first-hand and vicarious impressions coalesce into the so-called pull factor of the positive market image. Positive market image plays an important role as a pull factor as most visitors rely on their images when it comes to deciding to select one destination over another. The market image of a destination needs to be largely positive for the destination to be able to attract more tourists. For instance, the ongoing unrest in countries such as Iran dissuades visitors from traveling to the destination. Therefore, these and other images amalgamate and undermine a destination’s ability to draw more visitors. The market image of USA is largely positive and has been conducive to the attraction of more tourists.
Located in northwestern Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and covers 1,901.972 square meters. Geologic colors and erosional dimensions merged to create what it is today the Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular natural attractions in the USA, having attracted around 4.5 million visitors last year, and is the second most visited national park in the USA. Grand Canyon National Park has a visitor center, Hermit Road Drive, Rim Trail, Desert View Drive. The essence of Grand Canyon National Park was best expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt, who opined that ‘The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world’ (NPS, 2018).
Tourist attraction attributes model
The tourist attraction attributes is an indispensable tool when it comes to managing and planning decisions, and includes a wide spectrum of variable such as (a) ownership, (b) orientation, (c) special configuration, (d) authenticity, (e) scarcity, (f) status, (g) carrying capacity, (h) accessibility, (j) market, (k) image, (j) context.
- The ownership of an attraction can either positively and negatively impact the process of managing the tourism process. If an attraction is public-owned, this insinuates that the attraction is subject to extensive regulation and is injected public funds. Public ownership suggests that conservation and recreation of the attraction take precedence over profit-generation (Weaver and Lawton, 2014). Grand Canyon National Park is government-owned and is governed by the National Park Service of USA.
- Orientation can be either profit and non-profit based. Even though some attractions are public-owned, their orientation tends to be comparable to that of a commercial enterprise. National Park Service of USA ensures that the orientation at Grand Canyon National Park is not for-profit.
- Spatial configuration concerns the geographical dimensions and shape of an attraction and has impacts for the management of the attraction. Special configuration attributes can either be nodal or areal. The spatial configuration of Grand Canyon National Park is nodel and enables easier management of the attraction.
- Unlike orientation and ownership, authenticity is not a straightforward variable as it can be corroborated by Cohen and Cohen (2012). Basically, authenticity of an attraction is concerned with how genuine and not derivative the attraction is. For example, Niagara Falls is highly authentic. Like Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon National Park is an authentic attraction.
- Scarcity of an attraction has important implications for the management of an attraction. Unlike golf courses and amusement parks, an attraction such Grand Canyon National Park is not available in other parts of the world, and makes it easier to market the natural attraction.
- The status of attractions can either be primary and secondary. For instance, Louvre in Paris is a primary attraction, while Paris itself is a secondary one. Grand Canyon National Park is a primary attraction, and has key implications for its management.
- Like status and scarcity, carrying capacity has key implications for the management of an attraction. High capacity means that managers need to take measures to reduce capacity, and vice versa. Grand Canyon National Park has a low carrying capacity (NPS, 2018).
- Accessibility of an attraction concerns space, time and affordability associated with traveling to the attraction. The level of identification of an attraction on roadmaps and road signage is another factor compromising the accessibility attribute. Based on the analysis of Grand Canyon National Park, it is clear that the Grand Canyon National Park is accessible.
- An attraction market is contingent on a number of variables such as the season, time of the day, cost and other factors and thus is a multidimensional variable. The first dimension concerns whether or not the attraction is appealing to the broad tourism market. The second dimension concerns whether or not an attraction is tourist-oriented. Grand Canyon National Park appeals to a broader tourism market, and is tourist-oriented.
- Context of an attraction concerns the actual and potential implications of external factors on the attraction. The use of an attraction can either be incompatible or compatible. There has been no reported use of incompatible use at the Grand Canyon National Park.
Market segmentation is a marketing process whereby broad consumer market is divided into sub-groups based on their mutual characteristics, and is key to ensuring that marketers can accommodate to their target markets. Market segmentation has come to be prevalently used tool among destination managers. There are a number of types of segmentation such as geographic segmentation, sociodemographic segmentation, psychographic segmentation and etc.
Sociodemographic segmentation includes variables such as gender, age, family lifecycle, education, job and earnings:
- Gender plays a key role in providing a measurable criterion. For instance, men tend to be involved in hunting more (Lovelock, 2008), while women tend to be overly represented in ecotourism (Weaver, 2012). Grand Canyon National Park as a tourist destination appeals to both male and female tourist.
- The variable such as age and family lifecycle have substantial implications for consumer behavior. Older adults of certain age tend to engage in activities which are not appealing to younger adults, and vice versa. Millennials and young adults tend to have high levels of risk behavior. The importance of family lifecycle segmentation was substantiated by Choi et al (2011). The target market of Grand Canyon National Park is those over 40 as most consider Grand Canyon experience high-risk and older tourists are averse to participating in high-risk activities (Choi et al, 2011).
- Like age and gender, race and religion have a significant bearing on consumer buying behavior. For instance, marketing of Muslim pilgrimages should be targeted to Muslims, and not to people of other religions. Regarding Grand Canyon National Park, the park appeals to a broader range of religion and races.
- Income levels are considered a key determinant why tourist might patronize one location over another. Traveling to and from Grand Canyon, although not expensive, can become an important factor in discouraging visitors from traveling as there are costs involved in hiring a car and arranging travels to Grand Canyon.
|Gender||Male and Female|
|Age||From 20 to 50|
|Family cycle||Young couples
Full nest 1
Full nest 2
Full nest 3
|Race and religion||NA|
|Income levels||Over $20 000 annually|
Geographic segmentation is the most prevalently used segmentation in tourism and includes variable such as region and country of residence, nationality of the consumer market. The country of residence, like income and gender, have substantial bearing on consumer buying behavior. Subnational segmentation is also used widely by tourism managers (Weaver and Lawton, 2014). Here is the geographic segmentation of Grand Canyon National Park’s current and prospective visitors;
Psychographic typology involves subdividing the target markets for tourism based on their levels of risk tolerance. Based on psychographic typology, travelers can either be allocentric, psychocentric, mid-centric. Allocentrics are travelers who tend to immerse themselves in new cultures and are not risk-averse. Psychocentrics, on the other hand, tend to patronize places and activities where minimal risk is involves, while midcentrics are those who fall in the between the two categories. The target market of Grand Canyon National Park is allocentrics as the Grand Canyon National Park experience involves adventure and risk.
Based on the above analysis, USA has a number of competitive advantages in terms of inbound tourism, and Grand Canyon National Park is considered one of the most viable attractions according to the analysis. The target market of the national park are those over 20, with over $20 annually and who are amenable to risky activities.
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