Nicolás Raffo Menoni

The fallacies of quantitative tourism 

Nicolás Raffo Menoni 

The fallacies of quantitative tourism 

It is a fact that for some time now, every time we make an analysis on Tourism, we have been appealing to quantify and enumerate results. It is a practice that has always been repeated even though it is known that it is not ideal, but it is tempting and that is why it is done anyway.

It is well known that an analysis of success cannot be based only on large numbers, but we still fall into the temptation or the intention to do so because obviously it is always better to have more than less. The problem is the price to pay for this reality.

This reality leads us to several fallacies or deceptions that we know, but we still cover our eyes and do them.

A clear example of this is the commonly used statistical indicators. Generally we are told that the bigger the numbers, the greater the success of the management, etc. etc.; and we stay there because: why "scratch" more? if we can find a reality that hurts us and that it is difficult for us to assume and above all to intervene.

Tourism has always been measured in the number of tourists arriving, in the amount they spend and in the greater or lesser intentions to travel forward. The bigger the better!

This reality, supported by the fact that there are more and more possibilities to travel, at better prices and to more and more places, is a reality.

We all know about the development opportunities that tourism offers, which are really genuine and positive if well managed. But we also know the negative impacts and the price to pay for that reality.

It is NOT possible to always take the numbers upwards, because the figures have a ceiling or a cap that can be natural or generated. It is not feasible in practice to always project numbers upwards because unlike theory, where we can simulate to infinity, reality tells us about finite numbers and figures.

Also because the impacts can be so detrimental that they can even minimize the successes that can be achieved.

There are cases where the improvements and advances that can be achieved lead in practice to final results that are not the best, or may even be worse than the initial situation. This is due to the excessive increase in demand and exploitation generated by the progress referred to in the beginning.

Several concrete examples for Tourism:

It is well known that tourism generates negative impacts on the destinations where the activity is developed, but we ignore this detail and many destinations still continue to bet on quantity over quality. Quantitative over qualitative.

This detail is not minor because aiming at quality is much more difficult from the management point of view. This implies better planning, improving infrastructures, generating adequate training for those who want to provide the products and services to be offered, the need for proper articulation and management among stakeholders, making the entire offer accessible, and much more.

We had a golden opportunity with the pandemic, which "revolted" all of us equally. In theory it was touted as a possible paradigm shift that never actually happened. Reality shows us that by omission in many cases, by necessity in many others, or by simple decision, we opted for more of the same.

If we cannot make an introspection and critical analysis of what we do, what we want, what we should do and what we can really do, we will continue to have what we have today and under the slogan of "more for more" translated into more tourism with more damage to the environment.

In this scenario, sustainability will continue to be a fallacy and a nice utopia for tomorrow... the problem is that we cannot afford this reality.

When a new year starts, the forecasts about what is coming and what will happen to Tourism multiply and personally, and I say this with great respect, I believe that it is not necessary to be a great guru to be able to define several of the aspects through which the activity will go through.

We tried?

Great and more advances in Artificial Intelligence to support and develop the activity in all its facets. If we do a clear mapping of the traveler, we will see that advances will focus on improving experiences both for those who require them and for those who offer them. This involves communications, means of payment, comfort in their accommodation, facilitating these experiences, augmented reality, transportation and much more. All eventualities that involve studying and analyzing the points of contact between travelers, operators and destinations in order to resolve them efficiently.

We will continue to focus on the so-called silver generation or, in “Creole”, people over 50 who are the ones who have the most money and availability to travel whenever they want, which directly affects the deseasonalization of the activity.

Address the new generations based on information and communication technologies in all their variants, since they are the ones who use these means the most. Social networks will continue to command, influence and inspire generations that are very sensitive and prone to permanent connectivity with a constant advance, appearance and disappearance of networks that will compete for these increasingly locatable generations.

Sun and beach and urban destinations will continue to triumph, even if other rural and different environments want to be developed. As long as the amount of supply and necessary infrastructure is not resolved, it will be a nice intention.

The Destination Management Organizations (OGD) will bet on a greater incorporation of the available technologies to be able to better manage tourism activity. And that implies more technology, more training, better processes to be able to take advantage of these improvements, use of Big Data and a necessary capacity to extract, transform and make available that data in forms of usable information and knowledge.

Need for new legislation that provides security to all parties involved because if more and more data is generated and there is more and more availability of sensitive information, it is logical that new reference frameworks will have to be prepared that are not contemplated by the existing ones in the present.

To the famous story of “Chinese Tourism” we can add that of “Hindu Tourism”, to the extent that their middle classes can increase, there are also more than 1.4 billion people who could travel at some point.

Was surprised?

Surely not, because as I have been commenting since the beginning of this article, the paradigm is the same. We are on our way to more of the same but enhanced by the possibilities of technology that is increasingly advancing.

Without a doubt, new things will appear and we will continue to preach a necessary and urgent sustainability, and new paradigms for the activity, but on the current paths we are not doing very well.

We must sit down to exchange and think about new ways to approach and develop an activity that, as I always say, is beautiful and challenging. It is not an activity for enlightened people; It is an activity that must be analyzed and rethought collectively, seeking the common good and based on the true possibilities of each case. This will surely imply resignations, including economic ones, which I don't know if we are willing to assume. If we do not do so, we will continue to hear political and socially correct speeches that lead to the fallacies to which I referred.

As always, I advocate for these spaces of exchange and welcome all contributions and different perspectives in order to have better Tourism for everyone. A tourism that is truly quality and not just quantity.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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