Destinations: tourists’ perspectives from New Zealand
Although tourists are frequently cited as the central focus of much destination management activity little is known about how they regard destination management. Through a series of focus groups with guests at youth hostels in three locations in New Zealand, this study provides empirical evidence as to whether tourists consider destinations need to be managed; why destination management is needed; what it should involve; and what differentiates good destinations from poor ones. Their views are then compared with destination marketing and management strategies in the three locations to assess how well current practices match the tourists’ perspective. The tourists’ responses endorse the need for destination management and show a broad appreciation of why destinations should be managed. The participants see a need for destination marketing, value the provision of information and acknowledge the importance of visitor management. However, they strongly expressed the view that destinations should not be over-managed, raising the question of where the boundaries lie between effective destination management and over-management. The factors which differentiate good destinations from poor ones might be grouped under two broad themes: those associated with tourists’ motivations and expectations and those related to a range of destination attributes. Comparison of the focus group participants’ views with the strategies and plans of the three destinations reveals a degree of concordance but also emphasizes that consideration of their perspective alone is critical but insufficient for comprehensive destination management which needs to take account of the views of all stakeholders.