ETLC – RESOCONTO LAVORI GRUPPO C – RIUNIONE DEL 21-6-1999

2

Tourism and Employment

- Follow-up given to the Council Conclusions of 21 June 1999 -

Interim Document of Working Group C

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF TOURIST PRODUCTS
Draft
Executive Summary

Rapporteur: David Martín Valles
Jefe de Area de Calidad y Desarrollo Tecnologico
Secretaría General de Turismo, Madrid
1 September 2000

The key to achieving all of the benefits from tourism is to set goals and objectives aimed at getting tourist satisfaction. Doubtless, this would allow the European Union to maintain its leadership in tourism.

A definition of Quality for the tourism sector must refer to the satisfaction of the consumer, in this case the tourist, however but it has to be targeted towards the quality of the tourist offer. Measurement of Quality is essential; thus, service quality is measured, subjectively, by levels of consumer satisfaction in relation both to individual products and the overall tourism experience.

The Quality System is a set of methodologies, standards and tools that allow the companies, and business and destinations to improve both quality management and/or the level of service provided.

For tThe present report interim document it is undertakes the important task of to identifying the key stakeholders involved in the improvement of quality tourism. Therefore, the document gathers a list of these, identifying the key stakeholders and their roles. They categories chosen are, firstly, stakeholders in charge of policy making, destination management, and quality control, secondly the suppliers of tourist sub-products, followed by the commercial Intermediaries in Tourism, Training Suppliers, Consumer Organisations and Local citizens’ groups.

With reference to the European Policies there are many Community Policies and programmes which could play a positive part in improving the quality of tourist products and services such as the Structural Funds (ERDF, EAGGF, ESF, Cohesion Fund, URBAN, INTERREG, LEADER), consumer protection policies, Common Transport policies, environment and the enterprise and research policies.

Although tourist policy remains almost in its entirety in the hands of the Member States , regions and local administration bodies, the EU can influence the success of the policies through the use of the control, analysis and evaluation of actions.

Taking into account that this document is referred to the actual situation of the quality in tourism, In general there are, at present, no clear definitions of quality strategies in the EU countries but most countries of them are becoming aware of the importance of quality issues.

Spain, for instance, haves created their its own Quality Institute for Tourism.

ISO 9000 and 14000 are implemented to some extent but are not assessed as the most suitable systems for tourism. The number of tourist companies with ISO certifications accounts for a small percentage from the total number of ISO certifications in every country. European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Methodology can be useful but it is rarely used in most countries though implementation is increasing.

Some countries have quality systems for destinations (Denmark, France, Spain, Italy) and whereas others countries (Portugal- Qualitur and Spain- Spanish Quality Systems in Tourism) in which entrepreneurial associations are really carrying out quality systems for tourist companies.

In those countries where specific quality systems have been developed an increasing number of tourist establishments are obtaining certification. In Portugal there are 50 certified companies and 221 establishments in Spain.

There are many Community Policies and programmes which could play a positive part in improving the quality of tourist products and services such as the Structural Funds (ERDF, EAGGF, ESF, Cohesion Fund, URBAN, INTERREG, LEADER), consumer protection policies, Common Transport policies, environment and the enterprise and research policies.

Although tourism policy remains almost in its entirety in the hands of the Member States, regions and local administration bodies, the EU can influence the success of the tourism related measures through the use of the monitoring, analysis and evaluation of actions undertaken in the framework of Community Policies.

Members of the Working Group have provided information on the basis of questionnaires on the situation in their respective countries. All these contributions of the participant countries have been considered and summarised, to obtain a global SWOT analysis of the tourist sector in the European Union.

STRENGTHS:

§A strong tourism base and an increased demand for the European product
§Trends towards quality instead of quantity.
§Central entities commitment to the quality issue
§A number of large and transnationally operating corporations that are in the forefront of quality developments
§Personalised care of guests and individual offers are possible because of many SMEs
§Development of high technology for business in tourism
§Some emphasis on R &D and a certain supply of supportive knowledge resources of importance for quality improvements in the industry.
§Tourist establishments and consultancies with high Know-how
§Solid and rigorous quality system developed for tourist sector where all actors are involved (specific to some countries)
§Attractive, varied and well maintained landscape.
§Traditional folklore, gastronomy and culture. High quality of agricultural products
§A substantial variation in the offer from the Mediterranean south to the Arctic north and ranging from natural to cultural resources.
§Safety and security
§High level of education and training
§Consolidated image of the destination
§Agreement between tourism actors about quality
§Attractive, varied and well maintained landscape.
§Traditional folklore, gastronomy and culture. High quality of agricultural products
§A substantial variation in the offer from the Mediterranean south to the Arctic north over the entire range of natural and cultural resources.
§Consolidated image of the destination
§A strong tourism base and an increased demand for the European product
§Safety and security
§Personalised care of guests and individual offers are possible because of many SMEs
§Trends towards quality instead of quantity already evident.
§Some large and transnationally operating corporations that are in the forefront of quality developments
§Central entities’ commitment to the quality issue
§Agreement between tourism actors about quality
§Some emphasis on R &D and a certain supply of supportive knowledge resources of importance for quality improvements in the industry.
§Tourist organisations with high Know-how
§Quality systems for tourist sector where all actors are involved already being applied in some countries

WEAKNESSES:

§The tourist industry is dominated by very small proprietors with a weak economic base and low sense of quality
§Lack of European reference on quality policy.
§A diversity of intrinsic values and qualities of the European tourist product that elude effective standardisations
§Insufficient organisational frameworks to handle quality improvement at a transnational base.
§Inadequate public transport and traffic overload
§Weak signalling and information system for tourists
§Inadequate Urbanism
§High number of institutions at each level
§Perception of lack of importance of the tourist sector
§Negative image of employment in tourism
§High working costs
§Heavy seasonal fluctuations
§Lack of classification and grading system or official classifications obsolete and unreliable.
§Perception of expensive destination
§The tourist industry is dominated by very small proprietors with a weak economic base and low sense of quality
§Lack of European reference on quality policy.
§A diversity of intrinsic values and qualities of the European tourist product that elude effective standardisation
§Insufficient organisational frameworks to handle quality improvement at a transnational base.
§Inadequate public transport and traffic overload
§Weak signalling and information system for tourists
§Inadequate Urbanism
§High number of institutions at each level
§Perception of lack of importance of the tourist sector
§Negative image of employment in tourism
§High working costs
§Heavy seasonal fluctuations
§Lack of classification and grading system or official classifications obsolete and unreliable.
§Perception of expensive destination

OPPORTUNITIES:

§To consolidate position in business tourism
§Tourist Technology leadership based on the importance and strength of the tourist industry.
§To export tourist know-how and the technology
§To promote a Quality Certification System on a voluntary basis. To enhance the transnationality of certification .
§To ensure dynamic quality improvements by gradually increasing minimum standards and requirements.
§Develop and expand a Quality Management Model for destinations.
§Public sector is capable of setting up model tourist facilities as demonstration for private activities
§To motivate and organize stakeholders in order to exchange best practice and initiate co-operation.
§To Increase “empowerment of consumers”
§Create quality jobs: permanent and professional, skilled in service quality.
§To attract a more stable and differentiated tourist demand
§Diversify territories and products.
§Economic development for neglected areas.
§To consolidate position in business tourism
§Tourist Technology leadership based on the importance and strength of the tourist industry.
§To export tourist know-how and the technology
§To promote a Quality Certification System on a voluntary basis. To enhance the transnationality of certification.
§To ensure dynamic quality improvements by gradually increasing minimum standards and requirements.
§Develop and expand a Quality Management Model for destinations.
§Public sector is capable of setting up model tourist facilities as demonstration for private activities
§To motivate and organise stakeholders in order to exchange best practice and initiate co-operation.
§To increase “empowerment of consumers”
§Create quality jobs: permanent and professional, skilled in service quality.
§To attract a more stable and differentiated tourist demand
§Diversify territories and products.
§Economic development for neglected areas.

THREATS:

§Growing number of effective players in world tourism.
§Rapid quality improvements in competing destinations, long haul, Eastern Europe and North Africa.
§Excessive concentration in a reduced number of markets and tour operators
§Dynamic processes are jeopardized by turbulence and lack of commitment in the industry.
§Many small proprietors will not be able or willing to join associations covered by tribunals and certification organisations
§Unsustainability (social or environmental).
§Lack of suitable employees
§Price competition instead of quality.
§Low cost production in emerging countries
§Growing number of effective players in world tourism.
§Rapid quality improvements in competing destinations, long haul, Eastern Europe and North Africa.
§Excessive concentration in a reduced number of markets and tour operators
§Dynamic processes are jeopardised by turbulence and lack of commitment in the industry.
§Many small proprietors will not be able or willing to join associations covered by tribunals and certification organisations
§Unsustainability (social or environmental).
§Lack of suitable employees
§Price competition instead of quality.
§Low cost production in emerging countries

The Preliminary recommendations and suggested guidelines for defining and implementing quality objectives for tourism can already be advancedhave been identified. They will need further discussion and elaboration during the future work of the Group.

There are four categories of preliminary action guidelines and proposals that aim to establish objectives and strategies in order to improve quality in tourism:

1. Legal Scope
-Definition of regulations and classifications of tourist establishments taking into account quality criteria with validity all around the UE.
-Draw up a compilation of tourist legislation that could affect quality
-Definition of the boundaries of application of quality systems within the UE
-Safety and sanitation standards of tourist facilities, European regulations in this area and other questions such as the implementation of HACCP procedures in European restaurants are relevant, but as there has already been some work done on it the Working Group does not propose to pursue this.
-Review of environmental and planning laws.
-Creation of the structure for the following-up.
-No more legislation is needed but more awareness about quality
2. Economic- fiscal Scope
-Support to tourist companies (only SMEs) that are implementing quality systems, this support to be basically technical in co-ordination with entrepreneurial associations, or for those that are trying to obtain certification.
-Using the Structural Funds more intensively for quality improvements and certification actions.
-Considering a European system for economic punishment (fines, compensations) of operators not meeting standards.
-Promoting opportunities in the fifth framework programme to tourist operators and their suppliers of technology, developing and applying tourist technology.
-Design and implementation of chart indicators, both regarding destinations and organisations.
-Sustainable holiday resorts: certification of environmental quality for cities, towns…
3. Volunteer Systems
-Development of a complete European Quality System (standards and tools)
-Encourage the establishment of a Quality Certification System for the tourism sector. Implementation and adaptation of excellence models (EFQM) to tourist companies and destinations
-To strengthen the inter-entrepreneurial co-operation
-Involvement of agents with influence on tourists` perceptions of the destinations
-Deployment of environmental awareness and implementation of systems on tourist industry and destination (EMAS, ISO 14000). Integrating the activities of public authorities and NGOs.
-Encourage the publication of the decisions and outcomes of Tour tribunals and other quality institutions, so empowering the tourist.
-Establishment of a European ombudsman institution for tourism.
-Consolidation of a European benchmarking method.
-Development of destination management models
-Quality think-tank on EU basis on tourism projects
-Integration of the tourist quality matters in other EU policies, i.e. environmental, structural, R&D.
-Qualification and continuation of the employees education
4. Technical- methodological Scope
-Definition of voluntary minimum quality standards for tourist establishments all along the tourist value chain.
-Voluntary minimum quality standards valid all over the European Union and based on tourists` expectations and requirements.
-To Develop the methodology and tools to facilitate information about quality in tourist services flows
-Direct survey of tourists in order to obtain primary information about clients satisfaction
-Continuous updating process of quality standards and quality system (in accordance with tourists` expectations and requirements). Development of electronic tools for the collection of information.
-Encourage an information system for the quality management of European tourist destinations as well as the development of standards for the quality assurance of these destinations.
-Implementation of the tools and methodologies that will enable benchmarking and interchange of information among destinations.
-Focus on Self-assessment patterns.
-Adaptation of environmental management systems to tourism sector
-Definition of quality integral models in destinations
-Involvement of the universities.
5. Other
-Communication strategies: Mass Media, Guide-books publishers …
-Encouraging the use of Internet
-Create a net of experiences about quality accessible to public and private tourist actors at national and regional level as well as information about best and worst practice

This is an indicative list, that can be completed with other contributions, but for the moment it can be viewed as a starting point.

The contributions of the participant countries on the perspectives for an European tourist quality strategy, generally, have highlighted the increasing importance of quality to tourism, the necessity of setting objectives and strategies to achieve benefits and to advance on the improvement of the tourist industry and satisfaction of consumers. Other goals should be the development of tourist certifications, and the consolidation and extension of the quality system in the tourist sector.