Integrating NDS1, devolution and decentralisation policies with branding

20 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Integrating NDS1, devolution and  decentralisation policies with branding Dr Musekiwa Clinton Tapera

eBusiness Weekly

Dr Musekiwa Clinton Tapera

Ernie Heath (2003), a scholar in tourism proposed a model of destination competitiveness that if implemented in the context of Zimbabwe’s Devolution and Decentralisation policy and the newly promulgated National Development Strategy II 2021-2025, can be the game changer for destination competitiveness for tourism performance and nation branding generally.

Competitiveness for a tourist destination takes into account comparative advantages which relate to inherited endowed resources such as climate, flora and fauna, scenery and other competitive advantages related to such created elements as tourism infrastructure, hotels, transport networks, festivals, events, government policies and others.

Both comparative and competitive advantage are important for destination competitiveness and national branding.

Destination competitiveness requires practical action at both macro and micro levels to ensure the participation of all sectors of the economy, citizens and civil society.

Government policy and programmes are enablers that facilitate this strategic and sustainable direction. In this case, tourism authorities complemented by directly involved line ministries, the private sector, and the devolution and decentralisation policies adopted by the new 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe in Chapter 14 makes addressing issues of destination competitiveness and nation branding effective and results focused.

The major objective of Devolution and Decentralisation Policy is to promote in Zimbabwe “sustainable, representative, accountable, participatory, inclusive governance and socio-economic development. The thrust of the policy broadly is to guide the process of removing ambiguities, gaps, inadequacies and unpractical provisions inherent in the constitution especially the operations of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils.

Among the objectives of devolution is to provide recognition of the right of communities to manage their affairs and to further their own development, to encourage and ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources and to transfer local fiscal responsibilities and resources from the nation government to sub-national entities in order to establish a sound financial base for each provincial and metropolitan council and local authorities in the rural areas.

This is the bedrock upon which comprehensive, participatory, sustainable and strategic development will take place and with commitment and determination will nurture destination competitiveness for tourism as it facilities the visibility of tourism gems in local communities and infrastructural development as enablers for tourism growth and performance.

The National Development Strategy I (2021-2025) which succeeded the Transitional Stabilising programme whose main objectives were to stabilise the economy and creating a solid foundation for the Medium Terms Plans namely NDS1 and NDS2 is another programme which can be leveraged upon for destination competitiveness for tourism and nation branding broadly.

Among the goals and targets of NDS1 are to establish a stable economic environment and economic transformation sustained by high productivity levels, speeding up the ongoing Ease of Doing Business reforms to reduce the cost of doing business and most importantly, the successful Engagement and Re-engagement with the international community.

NDS1 also focuses on Transport,  Infrastructure and Utilities, Moving the economy up the Value Chain and Structural Transformation, Environmental Protection, Climate Resilience and Natural Resource Management, Image Building and International Re-engagement (very important).

These policy pronouncements and directions are the medicine that Zimbabwe needed all along and they require transformation of our mindset in order for all sectors to gear up and participate actively in implementation.

Destination Marketing Organisations and Nation branding strategists must reconfigure their systems and approaches with a view to practically ride on these national programmes and inject issues of destination competitiveness and nation branding at both macro and micro levels starting from districts, provinces and metropolitan entities up to national level.

Health’s destination competitiveness model can be effectively applied in sync with the relevant objectives of the Devolution and Decentralisation policy and NDS1 to successfully turn around the fortunes of tourism competitiveness and image perception of Zimbabwe on a sustainable basis from the local level to national levels.

Summary of Heath’s model and applicability in the new Zimbabwe policy frameworks

Ernie Heath (2003) brings a new dimension of destination competitiveness. The model of destination competitiveness which is critical for destination branding emphasis on key success drivers (people) and the vital linkages such as communication and information management that need to be considered when developing a comprehensive framework on sustainable destination competitiveness.  Summary of Health’s competitiveness model and its relevance and applicability within the Zimbabwe’s policy framework.

Heath’s proposition is in the form of a house comprising foundations, cement, building blocks and roof. Foundations which form a solid base of competitiveness is concerned with providing and managing the critical attractors such as history, culture climate, events, entertainment and others.

It also includes giving emphasis to what is called fundamental non-negotiable such as personal safety and security and health. This is of paramount importance for fragile industry such as tourism as threats of war, natural disasters and disease outbreaks such as the outbreak of Ebola in East and West Africa drastically affect tourism visitation.

Under foundations, Heath also argues for the provision of what is termed enablers such as, infrastructure (airports, roads, signage and others).  These enable access and enjoyment of tourism sites, penetration and minimise hassles. Constituting foundations also include ensuring appropriate facilities such as appropriate airline capacity, accommodation and distribution channels.

This level also focuses on experience enhancers which include hospitality, service excellence and authentic experiences. What it clearly illustrates  is that foundations form the solid and firm bedrock upon which destination competitiveness is premised.

On Issues such as safety and security, value, movement, accommodation, infrastructural networks, quality service and hospitality form the core of tourism consumption and enjoyment.  These are the fundamental factors that determine tourist decision making, trust and loyalty.

The Devolution and Decrentralisation policy can be exploited at the local district, provincial levels to ensure the provision of the necessary facilitators and enablers and the exposition of tourism gems in communities which have not been given attention because of focus on major tourism sites such as the Victoria Falls, Eastern highlands and Kariba and others

The model also focuses on the cement that binds and  the links the respective facts of competitiveness. It is the mortar that integrates all aspects of tourism destination competitiveness. Included here are continuous and transparent communication channels, stakeholder involvement, information management, research and forecasting and others.

One can argue that this knits together what will make a tourist visit flawless, well coordinated and integrated. This also constitutes the efficiency and effectiveness  in a tourist destination which serves to fulfil the promises of destination slogans and promotional campaigns. It is easier achieved in a devolved set up where local authorities are closer to the ground than when it has a national focus with too many competing interests.

The building blocks are of a policy and legislative thrust. It also includes sustainable development policy framework, investment climate, financing frameworks and other policy and structural elements essential to make tourism happen.

Under this is found the role of Government and its agencies in managing tourism destinations for economic development, increased visitation and enhanced tourism expenditure. Devolution and Decentralisation and NDS1 are enablers of Government’s involvement at the micro level to allow participation and involvement by communities in measuring economic development and ensuring competitiveness in tourism and national issues ensuring competitiveness in tourism and national issues.

It is also here that a strategic and holistic destination marketing and strategy are accommodated. Aspects of destination image and branding, competitive positioning, target marketing, demand management, innovation marketing strategic and visitor satisfaction management are done. This level forms and accommodates tourism marketing and destination branding in particular into enhanced tourism performance.

The roof completes Heath’s model and constitutes what are called the key success drivers which comprise the “people”.

Tourism is about people relating to people. The people exude hospitality; provide a human touch critical
for warmth and receptivity in a destination.

It also includes a shared vision of tourism leadership, values and people factors such as political will, entrepreneurship and community participation through tourism skills development.  Devolution and decentralisation creates a conducive environment for all this to happen. Community drivers of a tourism development and destination competitiveness focus mist not be on Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

Implication of Heath’s competitive model on destination

This model stresses the importance of destination competitiveness as a core element of destination branding in that it ensures destination attractiveness, destination sustainability and effective destination management.

The model emphasises the notion that the success of a destination depends upon close coordination and integration of government and the private sector including other stakeholders whose contribution makes tourism experience enjoyable and worthwhile. Tourism destination relies on the active participation of all stakeholders if tourism expenditure is to be realized and expanded.

Heaths use of a house with all its structures is illustrative of the complexities of coming up with a solid destination band. A structure without foundations or roof is not a house. Each sub structure is important in constituting a house. What is therefore means is that destination branding and destination competitiveness take more than just slogans and promotional campaigns.

Destination Management organisations such as the ZTA championing Zimbabwe as a destination brand should involve stakeholders for tourism performance in terms of arrivals and expenditure to be improved.

Furthermore Heath’s model underscores the fact that natural resources endowment in a destination is not adequate to guarantee tourism visitation and high expenditure. Scenic sites, heritage sites and abundant wildlife without enablers such as infrastructure, airlines, roads, signage and other will not be adequate.

Even these without adequate security and safety and assurance of health will impact on tourist decision making for a destination. As discussed above, because of the complexity of tourist destination networks and the interwoven activities that impact on tourism consumption, stakeholder involvement is critical adequate for communication channels and information dissemination.

What makes this approach to the point for destination branding purposes are critical success drivers centred on people. A destination cannot be complete without people who drive the hospitality and who implement quality customers’ service. The human touch through people, warmth and enterprises at destinations, local participation and a shared tourist vision completes the core aspects of destination competitiveness and destination branding and devolution and decentralisation are the tonic that enables that to happen for the benefit of communities and nation at large.

Share This:

Sponsored Links