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Innovation typology in tourism

Information exchanges between provider and costumer are a crucial factor for the adaptation to a more experienced demand. The individualization of mass tourism has emphasized the learning taking place in the interaction between suppliers and tourists. Accordingly, experienced tourists value destinations that regard individualization rather than standardization. Many traditional destinations, influenced by high seasonality, however, still receive great numbers of tourists during the high season, which complicates the labour of offering individualized products.

Weiermair (2006) indicates that in saturated markets tourists look for experiences. Accordingly, the diversification of tourism experiences is a fundamental factor for the success of destinations in the market. Regarding regional success, Porter (1998) emphasizes that cultural, economical, institutional and sociological differences contribute to competitive advantage. Consequently, destinations should invest in their own resources. This requires the combination of different elements: infrastructure, tourism services, complementary services, landscape, etc. Furthermore, the development on the basis of the own destination resources implies the collaboration of all the actors in the destination.

The third factor, sustainability, is fundamental to gain competitive advantage. In this regard, economical, sociological and natural environments influence competition. The increase in environmental sustainability is one of the main challenges of traditional tourism destinations. For instance, coastal regions have to cope with decreasing numbers of tourists (Weiermair 2006) and increasing challenges in the natural environment such as insufficient natural resources to sustain destination’s productivity. Thus, several destinations have long reached the phase of product maturity, which has a direct influence on the development of the region. Besides, the number of tourists that set value on the environmental elements in the tourism experience has growth. Hence, there is a growing interest in alternative types of tourism that take into consideration environmental sustainability. Accordingly, if destinations want to be more competitive they should regard sustainability as an objective. Furthermore, there is a great number of possibilities to innovate in direction sustainable products.

These three factors, globalization, experienced demand and sustainability influence the new trends of the tourism sector. The number of tourists that look for more quality, product diversification, reasonable priced products and environmentally compatible types of tourism increases. Therefore, destinations should develop competitive advantage regarding demand needs.

Industry’s Structure, Professionalization and Seasonality

Another factor that influences competitiveness in tourism is the industry’s structure. Though it is difficult to make generalizations in tourism, due to the fact that the configuration of the industry varies among destinations, it can be stated that the structure of the tourism industry is mainly based on SMEs. Furthermore, in destinations where one or several large firms have the highest market share, SMEs are also present as a complement for the tourism product. Destinations thus need this type of structure in order to offer several types of services to tourists. There is, however, a common belief that SMEs are less innovative than large firms. This is mainly due to the fact that large firms usually have more resources to invest in innovation


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