UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tour intermediaries and the regional tourism economy : the case of Japanese tour distribution in British Columbia Stubbs, Thomas E.


The spatial pattern of tourist travel is of concern to regions attempting to plan for a tourist industry. Planning of the industry has generally focused on allocating elements of supply such as location of hotels and entertainment facilities to create a tourism space economy. Yet, planning for the tourism industry must also examine elements influencing demand such as promotion, marketing and the role of tour intermediation (travel agencies, tour wholesaling and tour operation) in order to develop a more informed tourism policy. The role of intermediary corporations is particularly important to regional tourism economies due to their organizational control over the flow of tourists and their impacts. Intermediaries serve to negotiate and direct the flow of tourists from market regions into and within host regions. Intermediary ability to influence the spatial flow of tourists necessitates their involvement in the planning process. This thesis examines the extent and significance of intermediary control over the spatial pattern of tourist travel. Because international tourism is sold through a multinational network of intermediary firms in market and host regions, an understanding of market structure is necesary to analyze tour distribution patterns. Techniques elicited from the Industrial Organization Model provides methods to outline organizational and structural characteristics of an industry. This model has been used to apply concepts of relevant market, industry size, seller concentration, scale economies and product differentation to the Japanese organized tour market to British Columbia. It was found, using this analysis, that Japanese based intermediary corporations have significant sales control over the tour distribution process for Japanese organized tourists to British Columbia. In 1983, over 53 per cent of these tourists are controlled by six firms which sell, organize, distribute and guide or contract to guide. Of the remaining 47 per cent, Japanese corporations take a central role in deciding tour programmes. Japanese intermediary corporations play a dominant role in the distribution of tourists throughout the B.C. economy. The influence of intermediary corporations point to a number of policy implications. Tourism planning cannot stop at the allocation and promotion- of tourist facilities. Intermediaries have the ability to selectively direct large groups of -tourists to and within regions. On a regional and local level, strategies should be developed with intermediary involvement in the planning process. Without this involvement, planning strategies would be less precise in their attempts to develop policies to influence the spatial flow of tourists.

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