Tourism in Singapore is the main contributor of the country’s economy. Sentosa means peace, and tranquility and it is an island resort in Singapore. Its attractions include five-star hotels, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, and a two-kilometer long, sheltered beach. Sentosa boasts of various attractions sites, museums and several other facilities that provide a wide range of entertainment, experiences and recreation to tourists (Richmond, 2007, p. 526). The island receives approximately 3.5 million people annually, which include people from Singapore. The island also contains an underwater world that enables tourists to travel through acrylic tunnels, allowing them to view marines life (Corfield, 2010, p. 234). The theory of visitor behavior seeks to examine the relationships that exist among the visitor’s attitudes and behaviors with regard to use and utilization of the tourists facilities.
The theory ensures that resources are protected and visitor experiences positively impacts the recreation and tourist attraction sites.
Sentosa island was previously named Pulau Blakang Mati. It was later renamed Sentosa which means the island of peace and tranquility. The renaming was for the purpose of introducing it into the tourism and vacation complex. Sentosa Island is located in the South Coast of Singapore. A corporation was formed that would see the development of the island into a paradise (Chia, et al, 1988, p. 71). It is one of the most developed islands in the region. It is rising in popularity due to the increasing number of visitors touring the site.
Resource and social impacts that are caused by tourist and recreation sites are commonly a growing management issue in such sites as resorts, parks and other areas. The resource impacts that are visitor-related include tree damage, soil loss on tourist sites, ground vegetation loss, damage to tourist attraction monuments and so on which often pose a threat to the ecosystem and landscapes (Marion & Leung, 1999). Visitor-related social impacts include conflicts or crowding which may lead to lowers or decreases the quality and opportunities of tourist and recreation sites. The presence of Casinos in the tourists sites have been a source of negative social impacts due to gambling. Gambling results to such undesirable issues as the presence of loan sharks, organized crime and money laundering.
Strategies for issue management:
The management has to implement a number of management strategies as well as actions including use of restrictions and regulations, visitor education and communication, visitor use planning and site maintenance and hardening. The management should carefully select the preferred management strategies and options that will guide them. The management may opt to use either direct or indirect management strategies (Marion & Leung, 1999). The direct strategies are the approaches that either restrict or regulate the behavior of visitors that will result in the reduction of the freedom of visitors. Indirect approaches could include visitor education on the importance of the tourist attraction facilities.
Strategic approaches that can be used to reduce the visitor-related impacts in tourist attraction sites include:
- Management of visitor demands, for example through restrictions the number of days that the visitors should spend in the sites
- Management of the supply of visitor or tourism opportunities through the increase of the space and time that is available to accommodate more use of the resources (Marion & Leung, 1999).
- Management of the capabilities of resources to handle their use. This is achieved through hardening of certain sites and development of facilities.
- Management of the impacts that result from the use of resources. This is achieved through modification of the type of use, dispersal and concentration (Marion & Leung, 1999).
This is one of the strategies that can be utilized by the management. This involves the separation or matching of conflicting levels of visitation with resource capabilities. An example would be separation of human activities from motorized activities (Marion & Leung, 1999). This is achieved through the identification and communication of the areas where potential conflict is likely to occur. Segregation enables the management to direct tourists to sites where social and physical conditions can be properly managed in order to sustain a variety of high-quality visitor experiences. Matching of conflicting levels of visitation with resource capabilities can be achieved through the use of buffer area closures. Buffer areas are aimed at discouraging tourists from engaging in specific activities when they are within the buffer area. The managers can limit or prohibit the visitation of certain areas. Effectiveness of such closures is achieved through the use of physical barriers or signs. Through this, the management is able to control the damages to certain resources in the tourist sites leading to their prolonged life and preservation. It will also lead to a significant reduction of visitor-related impacts, and ensures the efficient movement of tourists through the tourist sites.
Containment or concentration:
This is another strategy that can be used by management for effective maintenance of resources in tourist sites. The goal is to limit the extent to which resources are used through the concentration of visitor use within one site or within a number of sites that are limited. Visitors are confined to a small area with higher levels of management and control hence the potential impacts are confined. The areas to which the visitors are concentrated are chosen based on their resistance to the impacts of visitors, and their maintenance that supports their resistance to the impacts (Marion & Leung, 1999). Increase in recreation traffic leads to a more pronounced impact on the resources.
Containment is achieved through education and information, selection of sites as well as providing facilities that promote the concentration of use. Containment to one site has a benefit in that it limits the difficulties that come with the expansion of sites. Site selection can lead to the identification of sites that contain natural features and resources that aid in the restriction to certain areas.
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This strategy requires the involvement of two steps, this include:
Description- this is where recreation opportunities and vital values are identified. The existing recreational opportunities and the characteristics of resources are identified and listed.
Prescription- a decision is made concerning the values and opportunities that should be provided in the sites. The management decides on the facilities to provide, the type of programs to make available and the areas that should be protected or not.
The benefits that come with this strategy include:
- The strategy helps managers to understand the site values and their locations
- It helps in the control of the undesirable impacts that could occur
- It provides a better understanding of the nature and distribution of the tourism and recreation opportunities within as well as around the tourist site
This is a strategy that can also contribute to the conservation of resources and improving the social effects. The goal here is to spread or disperse tourists to a large number of sites so that the social and resource impacts are minimized. The impacts on resources are lowered through the reduction of the frequency in which the resources are used. This is achieved through the provision of freedom to visitors so that they do not have to concentrate on one site (Marion & Leung, 1999). Social impacts are lowered through the increase of space between tourist sites hence creating space between the tourists. By so doing, the issues of conflict and crowding are significantly reduced.
This strategy is implemented through the use travel zone quotas. It can also be implemented through information and education where the aim behind the dispersal is explained to the visitors. The visitors can be encouraged to visit areas that are free or camp in areas that are located in a considerable distance from other groups. The concept of dispersal is often difficult to achieve due to barriers such as the lack of adherence by visitors to dispersal regulations, landform complexity and low ecosystem resistance.
This is a strategy whose goal is to reduce the impacts of social issues and resources. This is achieved through the arrangement of facilities and resources necessary for recreation such that impacting of visitor behavior is discouraged. This is the most appropriate method since its aim is to influence rather than restrict of regulate the behaviors of visitors. A plan of placing campsites away from others should be encouraged (Marion & Leung, 1999). This ensures that tourists groups are separated hence solitude is enhanced and conflicts are reduced. This strategy is made possible by management through the development of visitor facilities. Such facilities could include provision of associated facilities also grouping of designated campsites.
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Pre-assignment of recreation site:
This is also called pre-booking. This is where individuals or groups are allocated sites before their entry into the recreation or tourist site. This encourages optimum use of the sites as well as minimum competition between parties. This kind of technique ensures the spread of visitors while assuring them of their access into the site. Limits can be introduced as far as the number of tourists permitted and allowed in one group is concerned. The limitation ensures that social as well as physical impacts are reduced. After a period of time, the visitors get used to the limits and they adapt their expectations of the tourist site appropriately.
Recommendations for management actions:
The management should seek to balance the needs of both international and local tourists. This ensures that there are no potential conflicts between the tourists.
Camping near waters or in fragile vegetation and ecosystems should be discouraged. This ensures that such resources are not damaged and their life span is prolonged.
Environmentally sensitive areas should be prohibited and closed to all and any use to ensure their safety.
The management should use differential pricing. This is where two or more prices are established for the same tourist opportunity. This is beneficial in that it redistributes the levels of use, it achieves a social purpose also aids in the maximization of income during the peaks periods.
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The management should use a method known as interpretation. This is where visitors are provided information that will make them want to learn more as well as gain better appreciation. This is beneficial in that visitors will be able to gain more and necessary understanding and appreciation of the tourist attraction facilities. This will ensure that visitor-related impacts are reduced and greater public support is achieved.
Tourist site information- this is where tourists are provided the data, facts and advice concerning the site. They should also be provided with rules and regulations that will guide them in the tour. This is significant because it informs the visitors of what is happening where and when in the site. The result will be the visitors will adopt appropriate behaviors that will eventually reduce the visitor impacts also aid in high visitor satisfaction.
The management should engage trip scheduling. This is where location and timing is established so that groups and individuals are located their own time and location at a time. This helps to reduce congestion, conflicts, facilitate interpretation, as well as reduce the competitions that result from limited space.
Technology requirements- this is a requirement where all tourists are required to carry significant equipment for the purpose of safety or environmental reasons. The equipment may include sensing devices that will help tourists in the case that they get lost. This approach ensures the reduction of biophysical impacts and increases the levels of safety.
Tourist site hardening- the management should construct facilities and locate roads and trails so that they can reduce visitor-related impacts on sensitive vegetation and soils. It also ensures that the needs of visitors for usable access are met. This is beneficial in that it helps in reduction of soil erosion as well as reducing the costs of maintenance.
Tourism marketing- the management should consider the use of marketing so that they can ensure the connection of tourist demands with the supply of required goods as well as services. Through this, conflicts are minimized because the tourists are well suited and comfortable with the environment and the services provided in the tourist attraction sites. It also results in an increase of incomes because tourists are interested and they also agree with the policies outlined by management.
Tourism is a leading source of income and revenue to a country. It is therefore necessary that the tourist sites and well as the tourist attraction facilities be well maintained. Policies should be formulated that will guide the tourists on the appropriate behavior that they should exhibit in the sites. The management should consider the recommendations stipulated so that they can see the improvement and maintenance of the tourist attraction sites. This also applies to the Sentosa Island it is among the most growing islands in Sin gap.