The tourism system model

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In early tourism research, it was argued that by analysing disaggregated components of tourism, it is possible that an understanding of tourism as a whole could be achieved (Pearce, 1989). However, these reductionist claims often result in a failure to explain the different complex relationships, interactions, interdependencies and impacts within the tourism system (Carlsen, 1999). For example, traditional tourism models such as Leiper (1979) tourism system model assumes that tourism players function in a coordinated manner, suggesting that tourism could be controlled in a top-down approach (McKercher, 1999). However, tourism displays all the characteristics of complexity. Failing to acknowledge the elements of uncertainty, chaos, dynamics and non-linearity in tourist systems, these simplistic traditional approaches to tourism seems to become irrelevant and invalid. Tourism is an activity in which people freely engage in, for personal satisfaction or pleasure, where their behaviour is voluntary and discretionary proceeding from one’s own free choice (de Freitas, 2002). Thus, tourist’s participation is expected to decrease as discomfort and dissatisfaction increase. “Should climate change, so will be the tourism demand” (De Freitas, 2005, 35).

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Being a tropical country, Singapore and in particular Sentosa has the perfect conditions for the creation of the ideal tourist coast – all-year sunshine, warm water, white sandy carbonate beaches and coral reefs -popularised in the three “Ss”: sun, sea and sand (Wong, 2003). Sentosa is Singapore’s premier island resort getaway and Asia’s leading leisure destination. It receives over 6 million visitors yearly, making it the most visited paid-access attraction in Singapore. According to partial break-down of visitor arrivals to all the paid attractions in Singapore as seen in Figure 2a, it show consistency with Sentosa being the most visited paid-access attraction among all groups of tourists. Thus, it makes a good case study for studying climate as a resource for beach tourism in Singapore. Findings in this study shows that although the warm tropical climate of Singapore appeals to the mid-latitude tourists, inducing them to visit the Island of Sentosa as well as their beaches, weather did not prove to be the ultimate choice affecting tourist’s decision to Sentosa. In fact, although weather ranks second after attraction/activities, given only a choice, only about one quarter, specifically, 27% of the tourists chose weather to be the most important.

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With “visiting attractions” being the most carried out activity for respondents (Table 2.2), as well as “attraction/activities” cited as the most important factor affecting their decision to visit Sentosa, it suggests why majority of tourists may not change their plans to visit Sentosa even under unforeseen weather events. Therefore, although climate and weather is one of the many factors that may influence tourist decisions, good weather may not be the primary reason for selecting destinations. .. Mark Twain’s famous quote of “Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it” is often held up as a truism but Twain himself have said this “ain’t necessarily so”. Along the same line of argument, Dewar (2005) contends that humans may not be able to alter the day-to-day weather but they do alter their behaviours to either avoid or take advantage of these weather conditions. To some extent as discussed previously, a majority of respondents seems to have predicted that they would alter their behaviours, by visiting indoor attractions to avoid unfavourable rainfall events. Weather forecasting is a useful way to alter one’s behaviour or plan activities to suit prevailing weather conditions on the day of event.

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