Research supervisor: PhD in economics, professor, Maydirova A.B.
Academy of Public Service under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
THE UNDERSTANDING OF TOURISM CLUSTER CONCEPT
There was a time when obvious cooperation with companies in the same field often raised suspicions of collusion. Today the situation is certainly a different one. Even though competitive rivalry still exists, joint efforts are increasingly becoming the norm. Companies tend to cluster, forming critical masses in one place, to take advantage of synergies such as increased productivity, a higher pace of innovation and in essence the possibility of becoming more competitive .
Many researchers, tourism specialists, regional economists, practitioners and policy makers have sought a strategic way to maximize the positive effects of tourism development while minimizing the negative. This issue is most significant in emerging nations and less developed areas. Most tourism related cluster studies have addressed the applicability of Porter’s diamond model to tourism . Case studies have focused mainly on investigating the potential of tourism destination competitiveness based on the four sources.
The concept of cluster is adapted to the specific characteristics of tourism activity, whose product is linked to its local base and to the joint action of an agglomerate of enterprises involved in the region’s tourism product. Porter defined agglomeration as: a geographical assembly concentrating inter-related enterprises, correlated institutions in a determined area linked to common and complementary elements .
The tourism cluster concept adapted by Montfort from the Porter Agglomeration Concept: A complex group of different elements, including services carried out by tourism companies or business (lodging, restoration, travel agencies, aquatic and theme parks, etc.); richness provided by tourist holiday experiences; multidimensional gathering of interrelated companies and industries; communication and transportation infrastructures; complementary activities (commercial allotment, holiday traditions, etc.); supporting services (formation and information, etc.); and natural resources and institutional policies.
While Montfort highlights a cluster as characteristics and components, Beni highlights the cohesion between agents and cooperation by creating company nets when defining cluster thus: Tourism cluster is a group of highlighted tourism attractions within a limited geographic space provided with high quality equipment and services, social and political cohesion, linkage between productive chain and associative culture, and excellent management in company nets that bring about comparative and competitive strategic advantages .
Costa adds that to the cluster’s development in the tourism field should be included, the accommodation services, restaurant and beverages services that represents the static elements of the sector, transport services for passengers, the agencies travel services and tour operators, and rent-a-car services, which are called as mobility elements . The author adds that leisure and cultural services and recreational services represents the sector’s dynamic elements which are one of the major responsible for the moderate increase of permanence and for the increase of spending by visitors, since they are as the 'animation' subsectors of the sector.
According to Ferreira tourism cluster includes, in addition to the activities considered in the tourism sector, namely accommodation, catering, entertainment and various attractions, operators and travel agencies, guides, crafts, car rentals and touristic transport, other services and related and support activities, like organizations and support services, transport infrastructure, education and training, consultancy and other business services. It is needed the participation of other actors than just suppliers to develop a tourism cluster . The government should encourage and fund programs to attract private investment, invest in infrastructure, as well as promote the region tourism since a tourism cluster can overcome crises.
While different schools of thought stress different factors that determine the growth and working of clusters, the concept of clusters generally comprises of three important dimensions :
• First and widely undisputed, clusters are seen as geographical concentrations of specialized firms, advanced skills and competences in the labor forces, and supporting institutions which increase knowledge flows and spill-overs as a result of their proximity. This bundling of different strengths of is often referred to as a promising strategy to remain globally competitive. Due to co-location, firms can benefit from general and technology-related agglomeration effects in form of economies of scale and scope that improve their efficiency. Regions compete with each other worldwide in providing the best framework conditions in order to facilitate business growth and to attract investment and a talented workforce.
• Secondly, clusters serve a functional purpose to provide arrange of specialized and customized services to a specific group of firms, such as the provision of advanced and specialized infrastructure, specific business support services or training and coaching of staff. Cluster organizations help to channel, facilitate or provide access to facilities and services, which may include specialized research and test centers, consultancy, training, and so on. In this sense, clusters area form of self-organization that offers competitive advantages. Clusters facilitate both intense competition and close cooperation. Geographical proximity is believed to facilitate the flows of tacit knowledge and the unplanned interactions that are critical parts of the innovation process. This flow relies upon the willingness of firms to inform others about their knowledge, which depends upon the trust established between actors. This in turn can be facilitated through continuous face-to-face contacts, to which efficient cluster organizations contribute by encouraging networking and cooperation.
• Clusters are, thirdly, characterized by a certain dynamic social and organizational element, the so-called “institutional fix” or social glue that holds the different interlinked innovation actors – such as universities, businesses and public authorities – together and facilitates intense interaction and cooperation amongst them. Over time, clusters tend to develop a set of idiosyncratic norms, institutions, personal networks, and trust. Dynamic and effective interaction and cooperation in the knowledge triangle of education, research and innovation are crucial for realizing competitive advantages in times of increasing complexity of new technologies, products and services as well as of changing requirements for skills and competences.
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