Recent conceptual work on tourism destination competitiveness has proposed a comprehensive approach that adds
industry-level competitiveness attributes to more conventional tourism destination attributes. This study builds on
these ideas by generating sets of both attributes, developing a methodology for assessing their relative importance and
examining the degree to which their relative importance varies across locations. Survey data were gathered from tourism
industry practitioners in three closely competing destinations in Asia Pacific and were subjected to statistical
testing. The results provide strong empirical support for the inclusion of both industry-level and destination attributes in studies of tourism competitiveness. The results also question approaches to competitiveness that assume that the relative
importance of attributes is common across locations, suggesting, rather, that the importance of competitiveness attributes
may vary across locations, depending on product
mix and target market segments, especially in complex, multifaceted industries such as tourism.
Keywords: destination competitiveness; industry and
destination factors; comparison across
Competitiveness is increasingly being seen as a critical
influence on the performance of tourism destinations in competitive world markets. At a general level, industry competitiveness
has become an established topic for researchers,
policy makers, and practitioners, having expanded considerably since the publication of Michael Porter’s (1990) wellknown work. Tourism destination competitiveness, in particular,
is becoming an area of growing interest among tourism
researchers (see particularly Crouch and Ritchie 1999; see
also Chon and Mayer 1995; Faulkner, Oppermann, and Fredline
1999; d’Hauteserre 2000; Hassan 2000). Pearce (1997,
p. 25) considers that “at a time when tourism worldwide is becoming increasingly competitive . . . all insights into the development, strengths, and weaknesses of competing destinations will become even more crucial.” Ritchie and Crouch
2000 (p. 6) consider destination competitiveness to have
“tremendous ramifications for the tourism industry and [it] is therefore of considerable interest to practitioners and policy makers.” Dwyer, Forsyth, and Rao (2000, p.10) reinforce
this view, stating that it is “useful for the industry and government to understand where a country’s competitive position
is weakest and strongest” and, hence, that it is important to know how and why competitiveness is changing.
Crouch and Ritchie’s (1999) approach to destination
competitiveness is among the best known of recent attempts
to conceptualize an approach that includes elements of tourism competitiveness and industry competitiveness, and this
has undergone a number of iterations since its earliest public presentation (Ritchie and Crouch 1993). Their approach
extends previous, pioneering studies, such as Pearce’s
(1997) technique of “competitive destination analysis,”
which was proposed as a technique for systematically comparing diverse attributes of competing destinations, drawing
attention to the need for comparisons across competitors.
These approaches also extend mainstream research focused
principally on destination image or attractiveness (see Chon, Weaver, and Kim 1991; Hu and Ritchie 1993). Such studies
are part of a long tradition of destination image research (see Gearing, Swart, and Var 1974 through to Gallarza, Saura,
and García 2002) and in keeping with that tradition have concentrated on those attributes that are seen to attract visitors,
such as climate, scenery, and accommodation. While tourism
services in general are recognized as being important elements of destination image or product (Murphy, Pritchard,
and Smith 2000), it is less common in destination image
research to pay explicit attention to the firms that supply the services and to the factors that may affect the...
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