Tourism Destination Competitiveness: The Case of Kenya
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
To achieve competitive advantage for its tourism industry, any destination must ensure its overall attractiveness, and the tourist experience must be superior to that of the many alternative destinations open to potential visitors. This study focuses on the competitiveness of Kenya as a tourist destination and the factors that influence its position in the world market. Destination managers, planners and developers need to be aware of factors that influence attractiveness in order to improve and maintain destination competitiveness. Tourism is the world‟s fastest growing export industry, and managers face complex and difficult challenges in their efforts to develop and manage tourism destinations that have the capability to perform effectively in an increasingly competitive international marketplace, especially for countries in which tourism is an important part of the economy.
1.2 Defining competitiveness
The noun „competitiveness‟ is derived from the English adjective „competitive‟, which is defined by the Oxford dictionary (Online edition, 2005) as
relating to or characterised by competition
strongly desiring to be more successful than others
as good as or better than others of a comparable nature
From the above definition, we can deduce that competitiveness arises in the context of several participants engaged in similar activities, each trying to get ahead of his opponent. Competitive advantage therefore involves creating and maintaining superior performance (Porter, 1985). This performance may be in form of goods, services or both. In a world where technology and lifestyles are continually changing the way things are done, competition for increasingly scarce resources stimulates creativity on a large scale to cater for growing and more sophisticated demand. Competitive Strategy then becomes an important part of any business. Competitive strategy refers to how a company competes in a particular business, how a company can gain a competitive advantage through a distinctive way of competing.
Tourism Destination Competitiveness: The Case of Kenya
Porter (1996) argues that today's dynamic markets and technologies have called into question the sustainability of competitive advantage. Under pressure to improve productivity, quality, and speed, managers have embraced tools such as Total Quality Management, benchmarking, and reengineering. Dramatic operational improvements have resulted, but rarely have these gains translated into sustainable profitability. And gradually, the tools have taken the place of strategy. As managers push to improve on all fronts, they move further away from viable competitive positions. Operational effectiveness, although necessary to superior performance, is not sufficient, because its techniques are easy to imitate. In contrast, the essence of strategy is choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities that are much more difficult to match.
The competitiveness of an industry is a critical determinant of how well it performs in world markets (Crouch & Richie, 1999). External competitiveness is, therefore, according to Sahli, Hazari and Sgro (1999) as the effort and achievement of profitability, above the average of the particular industry within which they operate as well as above alternative investment opportunities in other industries. This definition includes the concept of opportunity cost and illustrates that successful organisations should not only compete within their particular industry but also against other investment opportunities.
1.3 Competitiveness in Tourism
Tourism and travel related services are among the most important tradable sectors. They account for about 11% of world GDP and employ about 200 million people worldwide. They also represent 8% of total world export receipts of goods and services (WTTC, 2003)....
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