Seasonal fluctuations in the demand for and supply for attractions and destinations are endemic within the tourism industry. Seasonality is not confined to tourism; other industries such as agriculture and transport are also heavily influenced by seasonal variations in production and consumption. Bobik defines seasonality as a cyclical pattern that more or less repeats itself each year (54). Seasonality in tourism demand is one of the most consistently vexing policy issues, particularly in peripheral, cold climate environments. Tourism strategies from destinations such as Norway, Prince Edward Island, Iceland and Scotland place considerable emphasis both on extending the existing tourism season and on developing new markets for low seasons.
Seasonality causes major challenges for the tourism industry. As a service industry, the product cannot be stored; so a hotel room that remains un-booked or an unsold theatre ticket is all lost income to the organization. Attempts can be made to reduce the impact of seasonality on the tourism industry. One way is to create or move demand either through reducing prices during the low season or by providing all year facilities. Individual businesses may develop a strategy for dealing with seasonality that falls on a continuum ranging from challenging to embracing seasonality. The organizations that choose to embrace seasonality are believed to appreciate the seasonal nature of their business and engage in practices that best fits with the peaks and troughs of the industry. Those that challenge seasonality, on the other hand, engage in business practices that best fit a year-round business.
Neither embracing nor challenging seasonality is seen as inherently more effective; rather, what matters is whether business practices, in such areas as marketing tourism and managing human resources, fit well with the business strategy of either challenging or embracing seasonality. This implies that seasonality is not always perceived as a problem, particularly at the level of the individual business. It is also recognized that seasonality can be positive, as a break in the visitor cycle can provide value to both human and physical resources within host communities. Bobik notes the ability of seasonality in tourism demand to present opportunities in rural destinations for tourism to be balanced with other activities such as teaching and agriculture (36). For tourism destinations, their management organizations and governments, seasonality in tourism demand is a challenging policy issue. However some destinations have managed to address seasonality with policies aiming to extend or alter traditional tourism seasons as this is the best way of minimizing its effects on the industry.
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