Developing and Assessing Integrated Travel Chains
M Schiefelbusch, Nexus Institute, DE; A Jain, Humbolt Universitaet, DE; C Walther, T Schaefer, PTV, DE
The paper reviews planning strategies in tourism and transport and the potential for better cooperation. Examples of integrated products for sustainable event travel are discussed and a new approach for their comprehensive evaluation is demonstrated.
For a long time, transport research has considered leisure travel as a 'residual' part of mobility and the tourism industry has developed little interest in how holidaymakers arrive at their destination and move around (1). However, both (short-term) leisure travel and (longer) holiday trips have grown considerably over the last decades both in absolute and relative terms (2). About 48% of the passenger transport performance in Germany is caused by leisure activities (3). The main means of transport is the private car (about 52%) whereas public transport (both local and long-distance) is only used in about 6% of the cases (4).
Leisure and tourism have become a major source of income in many regions, but at the same time led to pressure on sensitive ecosystems and communities. Transport has been a major driver in these developments, but often ignored in the debate on how ?sustainable tourism? might be conceptualised and implemented (5). Critics of mass tourism and car-oriented packages as well as individually organised leisure activities have focused on the ecological problems. However, sustainable development requires a balanced approach covering social, and economic aspects as well.
In transport research, a growing interest in leisure travel issues can be identified since the mid 1990s (6), but the wide range of travel patterns and requirements is still a major challenge both for researchers and practitioners. In this context, the paper addresses two main aspects:
* How can transport and tourism providers work together to develop and promote integrated, sustainable travel and tourism products and services?
* How can the different effects of travel and tourism products be measured in an easy and comprehensive way that takes account of all aspects of sustainability?
The presentation is based on the authors? experiences in the German research programme on leisure travel (www.freizeitverkehr.de), completed in 2004. As part of this, the project ?Eventverkehr? (http://www.eventverkehr.de/datpdf/evgr-b.pdf) developed and tested strategies for event-related transport solutions. The main case study has been the international horticultural exhibition (Internationale Gartenbauausstellung) which took place in Rostock, Germany, and the surrounding region in the summer of 2003. The development of ?travel chains? which link the various sites as well as the different means of transport and bring in new service elements has been a major activity. Hence although events pose particular challenges due to the concentration of travel demand, the issues presented here are transferable to other forms of leisure- and tourism-travel.
To allow practitioners (event-managers, transportation planners and tour-operators) to assess the sustainability of the new ?travel chains? (e.g. transport services, travel packages), a user-friendly Excel-based-tool (EVALENT) has been developed. Its criteria catalogue facilitates a rough overview on the ecological, social and economic impacts of the product as well as the other transport services in the region. Different alternatives can be ranked to decide which travel chain to promote. The presentation will include a demonstration of the tool.
In order to improve the position of sustainable modes, the project examined ways to integrate trip and event to create a ?seamless experience?. Two examples will be presented:
* ?Pearls pointing to the sea?: This concept was thought as a roundtrip with the idea of visiting different destinations in the surrounding region of the main event. In addition to the central exhibition in Rostock, about 30 other locations, so called ?fringe-events?, presented themselves to the visitors. These sites were thematically corresponding to the international horticultural exhibition - such as parks and gardens or parts of the historical landscape. The idea of designing a special package-tour (2 or 3 day-trip) was to combine event tourism and nature related tourism providing high flexibility in the choice of transport modes (e.g. combination of train and bike). The special ?travel-experience? connected with this package is that travellers not only get to know the event-site itself but also get an impression of the landscape along their way. This also leads to improvements in sustainability: Not only the event itself even the surrounding event-region gets a chance to benefit from tourism. Off-Site locations and the ways to get there without car become more popular.
* The ?Wassertour? combined the appeal of a boat trip with the possibility for social contact between visitors and local residents, aiming to bridge the gap between the two groups which often characterises large leisure attractions. On special occasions, boat owners volunteered to provide a shuttle service to the event site, transferring a concept quite common in event management to the transport sector. This measure mainly addressed the social dimension of sustainability. The trial applications have shown that the concept works in principle, but to exploit its potential in full, certain pre-conditions must be met.
Both concepts were tested and subject to a qualitative evaluation of user and provider experiences as part of the project work.
The concept of ?travel chains? demonstrating sustainable ways of travel can be seen as a tool for integrated travel and tourism planning and management. The key problem is that co-operation of this kind has been largely untried. The experiences which could be made during the implementation of different ?travel chain? concepts pointed out the lacks of co-operation between the different actors. The paper therefore outlines the conceptual issues that have to be addressed in this context and discusses solutions for building up networks between transportation planners, tour-operators and event-managers.
Association for European Transport