Tourism Product

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Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 582-595, 1994 Copyright © 1994 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in the USA. All rights reserved 0160-7383/94 $6.00 + .00


Stephen L. J. Smith University of Waterloo, Canada
Abstract: An industry is characterized by a generic product and production process. For tourism to be considered an industry, it is necessary to show that such a genetic product and process exist. This paper argues that they do exist, and presents a model that describes the product as consisting of five elements: the physical plant, service, hospitality, freedom of choice, and involvement. The generic production begins with raw inputs, progresses through intermediate inputs and outputs, to final outputs, or the tourist's experience. The model is a potentially important contribution in the debate about tourism as an industry; it also formalizes the intuitive notion of many authors that tourism products are fundamentally experiences. Keywords: product, industry, supply side, production processes, economics of toutism, definition.

R~sum~: Tourisme: le produit. Une industrie se caractErise par un produit et un processus de production gEn6riques. Pour que le tourisme soit considErE une industrie, il faut dEmontrer qu'il existe un produit et un processus g6nEriques. L'article soutient que ces deux ElEments existent bien pour le tourisme. Le produit comprend cinq ElEments: b~timents et materiel, service, hospitalitE, libert6 de choix et engagement. La production commence par des consommations brutes et progresse par des Echanges Economiques intermEdiaires jusqu'au point final de production, c'est-~t-dire l'expErience du toutiste. Le module pourrait bien Stre une contribution importante au dEbat du tourisme somme industrie; il formalise aussi l'idEe intuitive que les produits du tourisme sont en comme des experiences. Mots-cl~s: produit, industrie, offre, processus de production, cbtE Economique du toutisme, definition.

INTRODUCTION Product development is a prerequisite for satisfying tourists' changing demands and insuring the long-term profitability of the industry. Ideally, tourism products meet marketplace demands, are produced cost-efficiently, and are based on the wise use of the cultural and natural resources of the destination. Despite the importance of product development, relatively little work has been done to examine the nature of the generic tourism product. The purpose of this paper is to fill that void. The term "generic product" refers to the conceptual commodity produced by an industry. For example, the generic products of agriculture are food and fiber; the generic product of the automobile industry is personal transportation. A generic product will take a wide variety of real forms, but each form of the same generic product will provide the same function. In the case of tourism, the function of the generic product is the facilitation of travel and activity of individuals away Stephen Smith is Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada). He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. His research interests include spatial and economic aspects of tourism, tourism measurement issues, and tourism marketing. 582



from their usual home environment. This function thus represents the working definition of tourism in this report. The need for a model can be illustrated by two recent debates in the literature of debates about whether or not tourism is an industry. Tucker and Sundberg asserted in their analysis of international service trade that, "[t]rade in tourism services may be thought of as arising due to demand by itinerant or 'footloose' consumers. It [tourism.] is not an 'industry' in the conventional sense as there is no single production process, no homogeneous product and no locationally confined market" (1988:145, emphasis added). S....
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