Design and development of touristic products Main author: Gábor Michalkó Szilvia Boros, János Csapó, Éva Happ, Pál Horváth, Anikó Husz, Mónika Jónás-Beri, Katalin Lőrinc, Andrea Máté, Gábor Michalkó, Erzsébet Printz-Markó, Krisztina Priszinger, Tamara



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Table 2 Most popular Hungarian cities on the basis of the guest nights registered, 2005–2009 (Domestic/International guest nights, 1000) Source: HCSO

Besides the capital city of Hungary it is usually bathing resorts (Hévíz, Hajdúszoboszló, Bük, Zalakaros, Sárvár), Siófok as the number one destination of holidaymakers, and cities showing the signs of urban tourism – Eger, Sopron and Debrecen – that are the most popular touristic destinations.

5. The environment of urban tourism

5.1. The reflection of the environment of urban tourism: quality of life



When exploring the impact of tourism on the quality of life, big cities should be comprehended as an environment where the use of the space by the tourists and the local society, and the vector of the related spiritual processes are all connected to the basic functions of the settlements. When we start from the categories used in the model by Partsch, the provision of the space of residence, work, leisure, supply, education, transportation and communication is the number one function of the big cities. Successful tourist cities devote enormous energy to operating the basic functions in a way that gives maximum satisfaction to both local inhabitants and the visitors to the respective settlements. While each of the basic functions of the big cities in themselves may have dominant role in the quality of life of the local population, it is usually their complexity that impact spiritual processes. This difference is basically due to the consumption of the settlement with different motivations and intensity: big cities are relatively stable living place for the local society, but only a temporary place of residence for the tourists. Consequently tourists are much more likely to relate to the total of the basic functions of the big cities rather than to the individual functions.

Among the most liveable cities of the world, we find European cities on the top of the list. On the ground of an indexation that takes New York as the basis, among the top ten cities there are three from Switzerland (Zurich, Geneva and Bern), three from Germany (Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich) and one from Austria (Vienna), which definitely shows the correlations between liveability and order in the good sense of the word (functioning settlements with efficient self-governance, made by a community accepting and enforcing the rules). In the first 50 positions of the list comprising of 215 settlements, 23 can be found in Europe, without one single settlement from a former socialist country. It is also worth mentioning that in Europe it is not always the capital city that shows the most liveable character, it is often smaller regional centres (Zurich in Switzerland; Düsseldorf in Germany; Barcelona in Spain). It is also striking that the majority of the liveable cities are very popular tourism destination as well, so the increased interest of the foreigners in the respective cities is a blessing and a curse at the same time for the local society.

5.2. A tourism policy approach

The social, economic and infrastructure environment of urban tourism is reflected in the quality of life of tourists and the local inhabitants as well. Among the elements making the market of urban tourism it is politics that seems to be the factor capable of influencing other elements, including the product itself. A characteristic feature of urban tourism is that, unlike in the case of other tourism products, national policy is less able to impact its successful operation, while local policy has a much stronger impact on that. While e.g. the development of medical tourism can hardly take place without the active role of the state, the investments promoting the competitiveness of urban tourism are affordable by the city governments. The individual development needs do not allow and do not require, either, the intervention of national policy. Exceptions from this are capital cities and regional centres that have a gateway role in the tourism of the given state or region, so they play a role not only in the management of tourist flows but also in shaping the touristic image. Other exceptions from this rule are cities with international or universal attractions, especially the ones with world heritage title or temporarily serving as the location of some events of international relevance (e.g. European Capital of Culture, Olympic Games). National governments or regional management in such unique cases can contribute to the desirable growth of the number and spending of tourists by the development of infrastructure and suprastructure in the respective city and the promotion of its marketing communication.

If local policy recognises the opportunities lying in urban tourism, it can promote the realisation of the diverse activities of tourists arriving at the destination by the complex development of tourism supply. Beyond the political will it can also be assisted by the positive attitude of the local entrepreneurs and the local community (inhabitants, professional and non-governmental organisations). Doe the complexity of urban tourism, product development can only become successful with a single political background, because the individual attractions and the tourism infrastructure built on them must be constructed – or adjusted to the needs of the demand – in a balanced way, in accordance with the local interests. If the political elite of a city implements a single-pole product development in which one of the attractions enjoys a long-term priority, it may lead to a single-theme supply (bathing city, cultural city etc.) and decreases the chances of the creation of a diverse urban tourism sector.

In Hungary’s tourism policy urban tourism enjoys priority inasmuch as Budapest is one of the leading destinations, and the development of the touristic supply of the capital city is the interest of the national government. The Hungarian National Tourism Development Strategy emphasises that Budapest is a destination of international attraction whose development is a tourism policy priority, so the tourism destination management organisation of Budapest must be created on the basis of the Tourism Office of Budapest Non-for-profit Ltd. in the first place. As regards Budapest, objectives of selected importance include The touristic use of the world heritage sites; Creation of the bathing city image; The increase of the recognition of Budapest as a congress venue and Implementation of a fizzy cultural life. Hungarian tourism policy sees, in addition to the capital city, the small towns accommodating attractive scenes of cultural heritage as the places to be developed in urban tourism, small towns where visitors find historical city centres, cultural world heritage sites, major museums, groups of buildings of monument value, selected festival and conference venues and other sights of interest that can be organised into networks.

6. Cooperation of urban tourism with other tourism products, synergy effects

6.1. Central roles, individual products

Tourism taking place in an urban environment presupposes the co-existence of several products. Although cities, coming from their central roles, try to offer as wide a range of services as possible, this will always have limits. The competition of urban destinations requires of each settlement to create their own products and to build their names and image on this individual endowment, the USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

When discussing the primary motivation of urban tourists, within leisure tourism it is medical tourism, shopping tourism, cultural tourism and active tourism that come first; looking at business tourism it is conference tourism, and tours made with business and learning/educational purposes that are the most important. The identification of culture as a factor of development is a several times proven fact, supported by cultural tourism in the broader sense of the word, cultural tourism experienced in the urban space. This type of product includes branches of traditional culture such as heritage (monuments, built heritage, memories from the past) and arts (fine and performing arts, literature, contemporary architecture) and also activities related to lifestyle (legends, traditions, gastronomy, folklore) and creative industries (fashion, graphics, design, media, entertainment) (WTO-ETC 2004).

6.2. Growing popularity of medical tourism and health industry in the cities

For the ageing European (and Hungarian) population medical tourism, quality medical services and the development of the conditions of regeneration are of special importance. Health consciousness, the growing awareness of the preservation of wellbeing and the prevention of diseases is a more and more typical phenomenon, enlarging the target group of medical tourism services. Prevention is given a bigger emphasis. In addition to active employees it is the pensioners who are dominant, but the range of services used and the length of use are different. The elder generation usually prefers smaller towns with less visitors, they like travelling in pre- and post-season and prefer medical hotels (or accommodations close to the medical spas). The accessibility by public transportation is of vital importance for them (coaches or trains), as are the provision of transfer and the existence and look of parks and walking paths. In Hungary such destinations are Hévíz, Zalakaros, Hajdúszoboszló and Gyula; popular bathing resorts in the Czech Republic are Karlovy Vary/Karlsbad, Mariánské Lázně/Marienbad and Františkovy Lázně/Franzesbad; but there are several Austrian and Italian bathing reports of this type as well.

Active employees are more interested in wellness tourism satisfying the needs of conference tourism, and these venues are splendid destinations for company (further) trainings as well. Those who use this kind of service usually spend a weekday or two (at conferences and further trainings) or a longer weekend, maybe a brief holiday (leisure tourism) in wellness hotels. There is a demand for attractions other than medical tourism services to contribute to the pleasant stay of the guests; so cultural attractions offered by the cities, especially if they are easily accessibly on foot (Vienna, Prague, Dubrovnik, Porto or some Hungarian venues like Balatonfüred, Siófok, Sopron, Eger, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen) are ideal complements for medical tourism.

In urban environment medical tourism is a special type of supply, which includes non-hospital treatments (e.g. surgeries, dental treatments, and beauty surgeries, laser treatments), but these services can only be categorised here if they are accompanied by the use of touristic services such as accommodation or catering. Middle and big cities can basically join in the competition by the continuous development of complex medical tourism services (hospitals, special surgeries and outpatient treatments), the keeping of well-trained physicians and – in addition to rapid accessibility – the low level of the price of the treatment (price advantage). In Hungary good examples for dental tourism are, in addition to the capital city, Sopron, Mosonmagyaróvár and Veszprém; one-day surgeries are concentrated in Budapest.

6.3. Cultural experiences

Urban spaces can also be taken as cultural junctions where built heritage and cultural events are the most important attractions. Although there is a constantly growing interest in the visits to events with international attraction, it is still sights of interests, monuments and museums that are the most popular among the cultural activities, together with city sightseeing tours, the “experience of the atmosphere” of the destination, the tasting of local food and beverage specialities and shopping. The award of the “European Capital of Culture” (Pécs, Linz) or “world heritage” title (Brugge, Lisbon, St. Petersburg) will further increase the number of visitors and strengthen the image of the cities. Several (European) cities have used this title to renew their cultural life and make themselves known all across Europe.

The whole world in a festival – as the saying goes, and indeed, cities concerned devote significant efforts to increase the popularity of the festivals and enhance the efficiency of their communication (Budapest – Sziget Fesztivál, Salzburgerfestspiele). There is a fierce competition for the organisation of international (sport) events, Olympic Games (Beijing, London), and a successful event will also result in total renewal of the touristic infrastructure.

6.4. MICE tourism – the age of conferences and business meetings

Guests of the conferences are the lead representatives of their professions, so this kind of tourism generates the development of other branches as well. A conference will increase the recognition, the fame of the respective city; in addition, MICE tourism usually takes place outside the main tourism season. Besides higher spending, another advantage is that conference guests usually participate in optional programmes (visiting cultural attractions) or will return to the same destination as leisure tourists. Trends show that it is physicians’ and engineers’ conferences whose number is increasing. The most popular conference cities of the world (IUA 2007) are Singapore, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Geneva, Barcelona, New York, Tokyo, Seoul and Amsterdam. The evaluation of Budapest (with position 21 in this rank) is good, but the absence of a competitive congress centre is a frequently mentioned problem.

Although the explosive spread and development of communication and informatics tools has resulted in many cases in the decrease of the number of business trips, personal encounters and exchanges of experience are still needed, as are the maintenance of the business relations and trust. Business meetings are usually organised in the hotels and restaurants of (capital) cities and regional centres; also, more and more frequently in the own office of the company (organisation). In the case of incentive tours organised into cities of special atmosphere, organisers mix the speciality of cultural endowments with high level services (Venice, Barcelona).

7. Product development in urban tourism in practice

7.1. Accessibility, transport, parking

The rapid access of cities (in domestic relation by car, coach or train; in the case of inbound tourism by plane) is a key issue. In order to decrease travel time from the areas of origin as much as possible, regional projects are needed to promote the establishment of reception facilities with a substantial capital investment (roads, airports, railway terminals, accommodations). Within the (inner) city, on the other hand, all efforts must be made to promote the use of advanced (alternative) means of transport at the greatest possible level (bicycle, walking, motorised mini-car). Transport tools meeting the ‘genius loci’, the local spirit (e.g. horse carriage, old trams, chairlifts or tourist trains) are important sources of experience especially in the historical cities.

Within monument buildings it is often problematic to allow the movement of the physically handicapped, the elder people and families with small children. In each case, even at the cost of the preservation of the original shape of the building in justified cases, the expectations of the modern times must be met, not last because the ever growing share of the ageing population and the tourists will demand the use of elevators and wheelchair ramps designed and implemented aesthetically and functionally.

7.2. “Selling the city”: innovative solutions in settlement marketing

A key to the success of settlement marketing is to have those formal and informal spaces of community life where the local citizens, non-governmental organisations and stakeholders themselves can intervene into the solution of the problems concerning the local communities. The “maturing” of the local society is a prerequisite for bottom-up organisation, for the birth of communities that are able to learn, open and receptive. An important issue is the creation of communication channels, the measurement and evaluation of the feedbacks from the target groups addressed by settlement marketing.

Tourism marketing realised within settlement marketing has paid most of its attention so far on (potential) tourists, but this approach seems to be worth reconsidering, research findings suggest. Among the motivations of domestic leisure travels concerning the cities, visiting friends and relatives is a more and more important one, also, the recommendations of friends, relatives and acquaintances and the opinions read at community websites are appreciated when making travel decisions on destinations to visit. It is obvious then that for settlements with tourism development ambitions, communication with the local inhabitants will be very important, in order to allow the advertising of the elements of tourism supply and strengthen visitor-friendly behaviour.

During the selling of tourist cities, more and more frequently used tools are the cards offering reduced prices for tourists. The establishment of the card system takes into consideration the average length of stay of tourists (cards valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours), supports the use of community transport and inspires tourists with sales promotions to visit the sights of interest offered by the city. A further benefit of this card system is the increase of the number of visitors to attractions that are parts of the built heritage of the city; the actual movements of tourists in the respective destination become measurable, and the system also promotes spending and the use of other services in the settlements. In Hungary a good example for such a benefit card system is Budapest, in Austria it is Salzburg that should be mentioned.

The hunger for information of cultural tourism visible in the cities can be fed e.g. by the Intelligent City Guide System. It is designed to give the travellers basic information, with the use of the Internet, right at the planning phase of the tour, in order to allow them to make decisions on the destination of their travels. The system assists those individual tourists in the first place who couple the joy of experience and exploration with organisation made by themselves.

7.3. Tailor-made information

An essential part of hospitality is the provision of touristic information, including personal client services (in buildings reminiscent of the age of the attraction, or in modern buildings but with a central location); information signposts (in a style matching the image and the historical atmosphere of the city: brass signs, coats of arms and wrought iron holders); and visitor centres located in the vicinity of the attractions generating considerable traffic. When establishing a visitor centre, efforts must be made to create interactivity and have tailor-made products (linguistic diversity; segmentation by age and cultural background). The high quality of experience can be secured by stimulating as many senses as possible (besides sight, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting should also be targeted), relying on the active cooperation of the visitor an interesting island of knowledge can be created (good examples for which are the visitor centres of Herend, Kőszeg or Pannonhalma).

The use of the sources of information in 24 hours of the day is assisted by a number of new technical devices. In addition to information signposts located at traffic junctions (touchscreen terminals), the free access to internet in public spaces (public institutions, during festivals) is becoming more and more popular. By the development of the touristic sites (easily comprehendible menus, information in different languages, route planning, online accommodation booking, and downloadable publications), tourists will feel themselves more informed and safe.

7.4. The role of community spaces and local inhabitants

The use of the historical city cores as community spaces is a great challenge; it is partly connected to the regeneration of (Hungarian) inner cities, which raises issues for transportation, traffic management, the construction of a single cityscape and also functional issues. The problem of the emptying inner cities is not only an economic or real estate management issue, so it should be integrated with community development, and the satisfaction of the demand of local social groups (youth, family persons). Inner cities are excellent locations for the reception of culture in the broad sense of the word (see the section on the comprehensive interpretation of culture). Interactive museums or exhibitions (in a changed role); attractive events, festivals; parks, playgrounds, restaurants, cafés suitable for stopping, having a conversation or recreation can appear as events or programmes for consumers (both local inhabitants and tourists).

The quality of the experience of visitors is basically determined by the quality level of the services, so attention must be paid during product development to the satisfaction of the visitors. Visitor friendly behaviour, cordial and polite servicing, helpful attitude are fundamental requirements against all those who get in touch with the guests. Tourism management has a vested interest in paying attention to the information and encouragement of the local society and the employees in tourism and to working out special (client communication) training programmes.

7.5. Harmonised tourism management

In the case of cities, joint efforts, thinking in networks and partnership are issues especially appreciated. In addition to the development of the attractions special attention must be paid to logistics issues (transport facilities and car parking places), the quality of urban environment (transport safety, parks, walking paths, cleanliness) and the adequate supply of recreation zones (entertainment, shopping, active leisure programmes).

8. Research on urban tourism

Despite the fact that cities are the most visited destinations in world tourism, after seasides, relatively little attention – less than would be justified by the weight of the activity – has been paid so far to the researches of urban tourism as a tourism product. This topic is the research field of experts dealing with urban geography, urban sociology and the so-called (urban studies, but, due to the transdisciplinarity of urban tourism almost all disciplines within social sciences, e.g. history, cultural anthropology, marketing) are involved.

In answering the open questions of urban tourism, a useful starting point may be statistics, but the differences in the data collected (methodology, use of the concepts etc.) and the “reporting reliability” make comparisons rather difficult even within the European Union. Researchers can download statistical data concerning the tourism of certain cities from the database called TourMIS, maintained with the collaboration of the European Travel Commission, but the analysis is hindered by the fact that the stakeholders of not all cities participate in the construction of the international database with the same “enthusiasm” and professionalism.

Regular analyses concerning urban tourism behind the statistical data supply are negligible, the greatest help to academic work are the studies published by the professional body aggregating the tourism offices of the European tourist cities, FECTO (European Cities Marketing). The reports published by the organisation are usually publications revealing the findings of market research studies assisting marketing communication tasks in the first place.

In Hungary regular researches on urban tourism started in the middle of the 1990s. The researches carried out in the Geographical Research  Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were concentrated on Budapest and tried to explore the relations among the groups involved in the tourism of the Hungarian capital city (tourism policy of the individual districts, crimes committed against foreign citizens, renting of private accommodations etc.) with the tools of social geography. The findings had a positive impact on the researches of doctoral students at universities, and several PhD dissertations were soon written on the issue of urban tourism (Márta Bakucz, Tünde Juray, Katalin Lőrincz).

The weakest point of the researches on urban tourism is just the access to the main characters, the tourists, because they are hard to distinguish from other stakeholders using the city, also, due to their specific touristic behaviour they are in a hurry and do not have time to give long answers during questionnaire survey sessions. Of course the problem can be easily overcome with some tricks, but the essence of researches aiming at the in-depth analysis of this tourism product, the exploration of the characteristics of its operation and the recognition of its specific development needs would just be to carry out surveys examining all stakeholders of urban tourism. An extremely complex product can only be learnt by extremely thorough analyses.

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Links

International demand and supply trends of medical tourism



http://itthon.hu/site/upload/mtrt/Turizmus_Bulletin/01_09/Sz7.htm

Dental tourism

http://www.turizmusonline.hu/cikk/a_fogaszati_turizmus_lehet_az_uj_hungarikum/index.php

Urban tourism

http://itthon.hu/szakmai-oldalak/turisztikai-termekek/turisztikai-termekek#_V%C3%A1rosi%20turizmus

Tourist card systems

http://nol.hu/utazas/20100617-turisztikai_kartyak_mar_millios_vevokorrel

MICE tourism

http://itthon.hu/szakmai-oldalak/turisztikai-termekek/turisztikai-termekek#_MICE%20turizmus

3. fejezet - Géza Szabó: Products and product specialisations in rural tourism






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