Analysis of the Competitiveness of Urban Tourism Destinations in Iran

Document Type : Research Article


Assistant Professor of Tourism, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran


Extended Abstract
 In today's tough competitive environment, competition between destinations to attract more tourists or to satisfy them more by improving competitiveness indicators shows a continuous increase. Despite the efforts of tourism destinations worldwide to improve their competitiveness, competitive management of destinations is difficult, because their competitiveness depends on many factors. Therefore, destination competitiveness is full of inconsistencies and contradictions in its concept, measurement and legitimacy as a research topic, although well established in the tourism literature. This situation has made it impossible to provide a universal set of competitiveness indicators that can be applied to all destinations at all times, despite the efforts of many researchers. Therefore, there is a need to measure the competitiveness of tourism destinations according to the requirements of the place and time of the research. For that reason, the purpose of this study is to determine the dimensions or components of competitiveness of urban tourism destinations, and their measurement indicators in a way that can be used to measure the competitiveness of tourism destinations.
 In order to answer the main research question, three research steps are determined. In the first step, the components of competitiveness and their measurement indicators have been determined and validated using the opinion of experts. In the second step, using an online questionnaire and a survey of 320 tourism experts at the level of 12 selected tourism destinations, in addition to measuring the competitiveness, the impact of each component of competitiveness has been determined. In the third step, using one-way analysis of variance test and Tukey test, the difference between the competitiveness of selected urban tourism destinations in general and by components is analyzed. Based on the research results, 8 components and 42 indicators for measuring competitiveness were determined. The components included general destination conditions, tourism policy and planning, destination management, public infrastructure, reinforcing and supporting factors, key resources and attractions, tourism services and demand that were determined on the basis of Ritchie and Crouch (2000 and 2003), Dwyer and Kim (2003), Goffi et al. (2013, 2016 and 2019) models, and the results of other researches in the field of competitiveness of tourism destinations. As well, 42 indicators were selected to measure these 8 components of competitiveness of urban tourist destinations. The main body of the indicators for measuring these eight components is also adapted from the study of Goffi (2013) and Goffi et al. (2019), which was most relevant to the characteristics of the research subject. However, adjustments have been made in the indicators obtained from Goffi's research, a number of indicators from other models and literature on the subject of competitiveness in the tourism industry and tourism system have been added to this collection, and some indicators have been integrated. Finally, these indicators and adjustments, 42 indicators were determined as the final indicators for measuring the competitiveness components of urban tourism destinations. As a result, the number of these indicators has been reduced on the one hand and made more complete on the other. Tourism experts confirmed the validity of the content of these indicators.
Results and Discussion
The results of this research showed that the public infrastructure component with 90% has the greatest impact on the competitiveness of urban tourism destinations. These results showed that the existence of infrastructure, services and tourism facilities and proper management, policy and planning of the destination improve the quality of the tourism experience, increasing tourist spending along with maximizing tourists' satisfaction with the products and services provided and long-term sustainability of the destination in economic, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions lead to grow in the competitiveness of the tourism destination against competitors. It was also found that there was a significant difference between the competitiveness of urban tourism destinations and based on that, Shiraz has the highest and Sari has the lowest level of competitiveness. In the field of ranking tourism destinations by components, the research results showed that Shiraz city, which in general has the first rank of competitiveness compared to other destinations, in four components of tourism policy and planning, destination management, reinforcing and supporting factors, and key resources and attractions, has the first ranking. These results showed that the three components of destination management, tourism policy and planning, and reinforcing and supporting factors, which are ranked second to fourth, have the key role in turning gifted or natural advantages such as key resources and attractions into a competitive advantage for urban tourism destinations.
Distinguishing features of this study compared to previous ones are comparison of competitiveness measurement indicators with urban tourism destinations, determining the effect of each components of urban tourism destinations competitiveness, measuring the competitiveness of selected tourism destinations in general and by components, comparing the level of competitiveness of twelve urban tourism destinations in general and by components and their ranking. Using the findings of this study, managers and policy-makers of tourism destination development can determine the development priorities, strengths and weaknesses of destinations and how to improve the competitiveness of urban tourism destinations compared to competitors.