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Discuss The Appropriateness And Accuracy Of The Tourist Area Life Cycle (TALC) Concept To The Development Of Hong Kong As A Destination


The appropriateness and accuracy of the tourist area life cycle (TALC) concept to the development of Hong Kong as a destination




The tourist area life cycle or what is known as TALC, in its appropriateness and accuracy model can amiably fit in Hong Kong as one effective destination and well noted to be useful in tourism sustainability analysis along with aspects of HK economy pathways and several impacts. Even if TALC for HK as destination involvement stage can ideally provide greater benefit for Hong Kong base and population, and the area life cycle integrates to the critical importance of HK tourism markets such as for the betterment of HK culture as well as social oriented welfare along with degree of diversity in TALC functionality during the initial process of the life cycle development making HK as leading destinations in the Asia Pacific. 

TALC accounts for providing alternative and complementary approach in order to examine the relative location of HK based destination within the larger itinerary pattern such as trips or travels that depends on the destination sites or location routes within travel itineraries, HK tourist spots can exhibit effective characteristics of HK destination types for example single, gateway and hub destinations. The destination life cycle model will have applications to the HK tourism areas to amicably better understand the economic effects of Hong Kong tourism industry over time.


Several of the tourism destinations such as HK have enjoyed healthy rate of growth in years, continuous growth become an assumed norm and as visitor numbers drop, HK destinations realized the presumption as one fact, HK destination marketers today are faced within some series of challenges, many of which are a function of tourism and other then, function of the external environment in which tourism operates. The tourism sector has been impacted by such variety of external forces which range from high fuel prices, fluctuating currency exchange (Beech, 2007) as well as global warming, terrorism threats, changing passport regulations, SARS, hurricanes, tsunamis, bland destination image (Haywood 2007, p. 16) and other perceptions regarding HK as a destination as well as increasing level of competition (Morgan and Pritchard 2002).

One study have collected information on global air travelers to Hong Kong had exhibited the destination patterns mentioned majority placed HK as single destination for shopping holidays and business gatherings. Truly, Hong Kong and some destinations could benefit from tourism area life cycle as HK tourism can be much aware of essential role being one of most known destination markets and having synergetic relationships with destinations that tourists as well as travelers visit before and after arrival plans (Lew and McKercher 2002, pp. 609-621). Thus, in order for HK destination bases and population to benefit from tourism centered development, imperative TALC inspired policies need to be implemented as well as executed in controlling destination growth and be able to put emphasis on Hong Kong’s economic forecasts and tourism demands. Thus, HK tourism can be experiencing decline in tourists numbers brought about by factors, HK as a destination have the opportunity to rejuvenate the tourism offering which can include collaboration, strategizing, developing HK based destination brand that resonates with existing and future travelers and incremental innovation as in play, HK as known destination should see tourists numbers rebound if not surpass high marks.

Zhang, Qu and Mo Yin Tang (2004, pp. 267-273) asserted in their study that, Hong Kong is one of the largest outbound tourist generators in Asia Pacific region and the outbound travel has grown over the years starting the year 2001. The study had investigated preferences of several Hong Kong residents in lieu to destination choice of the country’s leisure travel by means of in depth personal interviews and found diverse destination quality liking. So, conceptual framework of Tourism Area Life Cycle or what is termed as TALC was being examined during its proposed time by the proponent Butler during 1980s. However, in HK evidence of limited studies have applied TALC such as to the region’s national parks and some protected areas as external and internal factors affecting HK's tourism development as well as environmental, social and economic changes of tourism area are known about.

HK tourism then has experienced certain stages described in Butler's 1980 seminal paper, ‘the concept of a tourist area cycle of evolution: Implications for management of resources from Canadian Geographer’ (Zhong, Deng and Xiang 2008, pp. 841-856).  Currently, HK government and HK based private sector were players as catalysts for the region’s tourism development from one stage to another cycle even though Hong Kong economy is becoming stable and growing on tourism stature, HK as a destination reality has been experiencing desirable transformation and added traditional culture and values due to the presence of tourism life cycle respectively.

Furthermore, HK as a destination need to create and apply TALC along useful strategies that assist tourism cycle in dealing the issues while creating unique identity from potential competitors (Brooker and Go 2006). HK based tourism operators and destination officials may benefit from stepping back from situation in order to gain sense of perspective on what's really going on. HK destinations due to TALC adaptation are facing assimilations of revitalizing tourism services and repositioning HK tourism in the market. One of precise indicators of HK destination performance is the number of visitors it receives experiencing fluctuations in numbers from year to year, it's imperative to understand the true meaning as to why visitor counts are increasing, decreasing or remaining stable. In other words, HK tourism need to position tourism destination in context of Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle or TALC as noted by Butler in the year (1980).

The TALC concept proposes that specific destination goes through key stages: exploration, involvement, development, consolidation, stagnation and decline and or rejuvenation. HK as a destination could enjoy varying levels of popularity but growth will follow an S-shaped path with dip at the end. Stage one will represent “finding” of HK as a destination from start few people visit HK but over years and through word of mouth promotion, number of adventurous folks decide an area is worth exploring, if only for bragging rights, visiting HK sites that their peers have either not heard about, or haven't even considered visiting. Next, stage two adheres to the real wave of HK visitors, radical adventurers of stage one have already moved on, seeking other unique and novel locations and replacing them is the second wave of HK visitors who have heard about particularly unique location/destination and begin to check it out themselves. Moreover, stage three implies the discovery of HK location by the media and destination begins to become better known such as UK and signs of mass tourism begin and extra infrastructure is developed to support and attract the rising HK visitor numbers. Aside, stage four integrates apex of the growth curve. The percentage of increase becomes negligible, may decline by amount in comparison within years, such destination as Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park can ideally bring in number of HK located hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment. Over time, HK destination may lose its distinctiveness and starts to look like others. Lastly, stage five accounts for slippery slope where HK visitor numbers continue to decline HK destination might only attracts dependable repeat guests, who prefer to visit and revisit well established, know quantities and spend less, stay shorter and less active.

Then, HK tourism markets can possibly assign blame to the various external factors noted such as fuel prices, weather issues and others, TALC's S-shaped curve were used to model the host guest dichotomy from initial excitement of potential of HK tourism through to resentment of tourists from exceeding local social carrying capacity. The S-curve can be applied to tourism destination brands (Morgan and Pritchard 2002, pp. 24-26). Based on tourist destination's relationship with consumers, HK destination can move through initial stage referred to as fashionable as HK market attracts trendy visitors who have spotted destination in advance of advertising campaigns. The trendy move on as HK destination moves into its second stage, famous brought on by publicity and promotional efforts. Many people are aware of HK as a destination, but it have sense and appeal along with the fashionable and famous.

HK destination in reference to TALC’s accuracy, possibly will overlay with life cycle of tourism business, specifically family businesses found in HK. Vast majority of tourism enterprises in HK, including those found in business hot spots are family owned enterprises since business and owners’ age, the concern that HK business people are less to expose capital to risk on innovative venture and or innovative tourism projects come precise into the picture. TALC provide grounds for HK to always be in control of the tourism sector and managing well the area life cycle for ideal move on the destination services into HK market and continuous development of TALC in reference to transformation of HK destinations on a high note. However, Cooper (2006) have put in analysis of the TALC suggesting that if HK destination comes to the stagnation and or fatigue stage the destination might experience declining tourists numbers, low yield of such domestic and repeat destination visitors. The down turn is the result of both a series of external forces that are beyond the destination's control and a range of issues related to the destination's built make up. For example, on the demand side, changing tastes and expectations of the tourism marketplace lead to the growth of competing destinations that can service demand more effectively. Responding to changes in the marketplace is problematic.

HK as a destination can be comprised of fixed plant, capital investment in tourism infrastructure and superstructure that makes it difficult to change what's offered. Another reason for the stagnation has to do with the range of products offered by HK destination. Many have not kept up with changes in consumer demand. A fixation on products that were successful in the past creates a form of inertia, good examples to illustrate salient points for example in HK Disneyland and Ocean Park, HK. Large number of manmade attractions, which start to outnumber the more natural attractions that made the place popular in the first place as HK offer number of commercial family oriented attractions, in addition to niche oriented attractions as the tourism wonder of HK Disneyland and Ocean Park does act as backdrop to HK business enterprises (Langley, 2007). It can be that, HK destinations need to understand and appreciate the fluidity of markets as change is inevitable realizing approach of past will not necessarily work in the future. Several tourism business is not known for their strategic thinking or integrative behavior patterns (Simpson and Bretherton, 2004) as HK tourism business is often virtual extension of personality, characteristic that influence capital structure, human resource development and strategic ambition.


HK destinations need clear destination brand image, one that clearly identifies and projected brand values that resonate with key target segments (King, 2002) as for HK destination marketers, it's the relevance of the experience they offer the customer, rather than the destination they promote, which will be a core ingredient for success of HK tourism in the future (King, 2002) as HK destinations emerge to compete within the tourism market, it is imperative that destinations develop strategic focus. Therefore, there is no doubts that HK as destination and its relative forces play part in bringing effective tourism areas and augmenting tourists/visitor numbers. Indeed, the Tourism Area Life Cycle may be better platform to use to explain and discuss HK tourism downturns as authorities can amiably implement certain series of steps designed to rejuvenate some of HK destinations in order to always have an appeal to tourists and travelers. Then, the development of destination inspired strategy, the development of HK destination brand that resonates with tourists and innovation in an incremental and revolutionary manner and if matters, HK as effective destination should recognize the value of TALC such as in bringing in tourists numbers and processes to imply high destination application bases.


Beech, M. (2007), "Weathering the perfect storm", St. Catharines Standard, No.30 June, pp.1-2

Brooker, E., Go, F. (2006), "The relationship between branding and innovation: the SMTE perspective", in Keller, P., Bieger, T. (Eds),Marketing Efficiency in Tourism, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin, pp.53-63

Butler, R. (1980), "The concept of a tourist area life cycle of evolution: implications for management of resources", The Canadian Geographer, Vol. 24 No.1, pp.5-12

Cooper, C. (2006), "The anatomy of the rejuvenation stage of the TALC", in Butler, R. (Eds),The Tourism Area Life Cycle, Channel View Publications, Clevedon, Vol. Vol. 2

Haywood, M. (2007), "Lead: performing to potential", Hotelier, No.September, pp.29

King, J. (2002), "Destination marketing organizations – connecting the experience rather than promoting the place", Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 8 No.2, pp.105-8

Langley, A. (2007), "Fighting tourism drop: operators slash prices to attract patrons", Niagara Falls Review, No.21 August, pp.2007

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

Lew, A. and McKercher, B. (2002). Trip destinations, gateways and itineraries: the example of Hong Kong. Tourism Management Volume 23 Issue 6,

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this articlDecember 2002, pp. 609-621

Morgan, N., Pritchard, A. (2002), "Contextualizing destination branding", in Morgan, N., Pritchard, A., Pride, R. (Eds),Destination Branding: Creating the Unique Destination Proposition, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford

Simpson, K., Bretherton, P. (2004), "Co-operative business practices in the competitive leisure destination: lessons from the wine tourism industry in New Zealand", Managing Leisure, Vol. 9 No.April, pp.111-23

Zhang, H. Qu, H. and Mo Yin Tang, V. (2004). A case study of Hong Kong residents’ outbound leisure travel. Tourism Management Volume 25 Issue 2, April 2004, pp. 267-273 Elsevier Ltd. 

Zhong, L. Deng, J. and Xiang, B. (). Tourism development and the tourism area life-cycle model: A case study of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China. Tourism Management Volume 29 Issue 5, October 2008, pp. 841-856.

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this artic
Elsevier Science Ltd.

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