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Top>Opinion>The Life Cycle of Tourist Spots


Katsuhiko Okumoto

Katsuhiko Okumoto [Profile]

The Life Cycle of Tourist Spots

Katsuhiko Okumoto
Professor, Faculty of Commerce, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: Marketing Management and Marketing Science

Industry without a chimney

Tourism has recently caused quite the buzz.

This may in part explain why tourism is known as an "industry without a chimney"-because it does not require considerable investment in constructing plants or installing new equipment. In terms of purchasing activity, we typically go to a retail store, buy something, and bring it home. For tourism, on the other hand, we go somewhere, but cannot bring back any product. Let's consider an example. We never hear about someone going to Mt. Fuji or Kinkakuji Temple and bringing them home. The only things that we can bring back are the memories and extraordinary experiences that we have. In other words, we are "spiritually nourished" through tourism.

I once heard Takeshi Kitano, the TV comedian and movie director also known as Beat Takeshi, talking about his mother. He said, "Just after my mother got back home from her trip, she confessed she was completely exhausted, and, after all, she felt most relaxed when she was at home. Then I thought: she should have not gone out!" I assume that everyone has had an experience like this. And yet we still go travelling-that is how much tourism and traveling attract us.

The life cycles of tourist spots

Even attractive tourist spots and travel destinations change with the times. Atami, for example, was once known as a popular honeymoon resort for many young couples, and then it gained prosperity as a destination for recreational company excursions. Recently, however, Atami has become obsolete. Regrettably, many famous hotels were closed and replaced with resort condominiums.

As this example shows, tourist spots and travel destinations have their own life cycles, just like the life spans of human beings and animals. One typical example is the circus. Several decades ago, circuses travelled nationwide and enjoyed great popularity, with the Kinoshita Circus and the Bolshoi Circus being particularly well known. Today, however, an increasing number of people do not even know they exist.

Such a change, including prosperity and decline, is generally called a life cycle. A typical life cycle begins with an introduction stage, goes to a growth stage, maturity stage, and a decline stage, and finally ends with a deletion. Most products complete this life cycle, whether it is short or long. However, there are actually some exceptions to which this life cycle does not apply. From a global viewpoint, New York and Paris are just such examples. These cities always attract us through renewal, though most other spots eventually become obsolete, just as Atami and circuses did, as described above. One tourist spot similar to New York and Paris is Disneyland, where many innovations are introduced. Disneyland maintains freshness by providing new amusing attractions one after another. That is, Disneyland always makes improvements and breathes life into its amusement park in order to encourage further visits.

Creating repeat visitors

When a tourist spot encourages tourists to visit the spot, a lot of money is required to draw new tourists. So it is believed much easier to encourage tourists who have visited before to visit the spot again than it is to persuade new tourists to visit the spot-leading to secondary purchase activity-because such tourists know how wonderful and impressive traveling and tourism are. It is generally believed to be less expensive to increase the number of tourists who have visited the spot before and come again than it is to draw new tourists. Also, as is often said, a climber conquering a mountain peak thinks about which mountain to attack next while descending the mountain, which is exactly like to the above case.

For this reason, tourist spots need to develop schemes for encouraging tourists to visit more than once, and strategies for holding tourists' attention are particularly vital. If we visit a certain spot after such a long time but the spot remains unchanged, we do not want to visit there again. Tourist spots need to deliver an impressive experience to tourists during a single trip, but at the same time, they must have a depth that is not entirely tangible. In fact, Disneyland, New York, and Paris seem to have such a depth. To see or feel everything, we have to visit many times. Further, the addition of new attractions is also important. That is to say, a tourist spot cannot attract or satisfy visitors until it creates something that no other tourist spot can offer. Once a tourist spot successfully creates something truly unique, it can allow us to create and enjoy fresh memories and extraordinary experiences.

Katsuhiko Okumoto
Professor, Faculty of Commerce, Chuo University
Area of Specialization Marketing Management and Marketing Science
Born in Nara prefecture, the author graduated from the Department of Mathematics in the Faculty of Science at the Tokyo University of Science, and he then completed the master's course at the same university. He received a Doctorial Degree in Commerce at Chuo University, and is now a professor on the Faculty of Commerce at Chuo University. The current study topics are the "Standardization to Adaptation Strategy of Local Joint Venture Companies in the Asia Region" and the "Effect on Decision of Product Purchase by Country of Origin and Country Image."
His major works include:
Sales Forecast and Selection of a Marketing Model [Hanbai yosoku to maaketingu moderu no sentaku] (Taga Shuppan, 1997)
Marketing Strategies in Joint Venture Companies [Gobenkigyo no maaketingu senryaku] (Chuo University Press, 2009)
Tourism Marketing by Les Lumsdon [Kanko no maaketingu] (translated by Katsuhiko Okumoto, Taga Shuppan, 2004)
Global Strategies by Korean Companies [Kankoku kigyo no gurobaru senryaku] (supervised and translated by Katsuhiko Okumoto, Chuo University Press, 2005)
Korean New Economic Strategies in the Global Era [Gurobaru jidai no Kankoku shin-keizai senryaku] (supervised and translated by Katsuhiko Okumoto, Chuo University Press, 2008)