parks did not exist. Fairs were often visited to enjoy moments with family. The first recreation park called Tivoli was created in 1771 in Paris. The diversity of activities present on that park made it successful. Over the years, new attractions were more and more set up. But people got bored of these attractions at a specific moment: it did not meet their needs anymore.
Towards the end of the 19th century, attractions experienced new changes thanks to technical progress. The development of new technologies permitted the creation of new games. In the midst of the 20th century, new parks emerged all over the world.
The object of this essay is to analyze the establishment of recreation parks on territories for destinations and tourism business in terms of opportunities and threats.
The essay will be organized in the following manner. After presenting the current market, we will be focusing on an internal analysis: strengths and weakens of the recreation parks. Secondly, we will deal with opportunities and threats of these leisure sites. Both parts will target on the implication of such parks on destinations and tourism business and will be illustrated through the example of a well known recreation park in France: Disneyland Paris.
France has almost 300 leisure sites of which 30% of recreation parks and theme parks. The annual number of visitors is estimated at 70 000 000 of which 16 800 000 recreation parks tickets. According to a study from the AFIT, more than one out of two French people is consumer of that touristic product and French people go in a leisure park three times a year as an average. The touristic attractiveness of a destination is an important issue in the tourism industry. A tourist destination is based on three main points. First of all, it comprises the destination attraction that is the whole factors which constitute the image of a destination. Then, its accessibility: more precisely to define the itinerary from one place to another including travel expenses for instance. As the last point, we can add the conditions of visiting a destination: accommodation, services provided on place… The internal analysis will be made through the VRIN model that is the Value, Rarity, Inimitability, Non Substitutability of a touristic product.
Let’s start with the notion of value. Each recreation park is different and we distinguish them by their image. The image is at the centre of the value of an organization. It is based on several parameters. First of all, the notoriety of the brand. This can be achieved through the adoption of a marketing strategy (presence of the brand on television, internet, shopsâ€¦). Moreover, the second parameter to take into account is the accessibility of a recreation park. Indeed, the more the park is accessible in terms of transports the more it attracts people and makes a recreation park one of the main destination. These two elements mainly constitute the strengths of a recreation park.
Let’s illustrate with the example of Disneyland Paris. Since its opening in 1992, it has recorded more than 200 millions of visits. Disneyland Paris has become today the first tourist destination in Europe and comprises two Disney theme parks, hotels, Disney village and golf courses. That destination has an exceptional accessibility contributing to its success: Paris is at 35 minutes away with the RER, the proximity of highways and the construction of car parks permitted an easier access for motorists. Besides, the presence of train stations and airports near the park highlight the importance of the transports network. Public investments amounted to 666 million euros.
In addition, the park is characterized by its creativity and its strong capacity to innovate new products (new attractions were created each year, a wide range of extra services). Except attractions, it provides hotels, restaurants, shops. Then, the image of Disneyland Paris relies on the importance of quality of service with “Cast Members”. Indeed, they are trained in order to accompany visitors in “Disney World”
The destination attraction is thus based on the capacity of a recreation park to suggest rarity products which means at first the fact the product adds value to the customer and at the second time that the product is lasting in a long term. The more the product is rare, the more it may not be copied (it is linked to the complexity, the culture and history, the changes including innovationsâ€¦). The choice of a destination considers the previous criteria: a non substitutable product will interest more a customer (unique services, products present in one place only for instance) rather another one which provides the same services in other park.
Despite these positive points, we need to point out the negative aspects of recreation parks. The construction of a recreation park requires an important capital to buy a “lot” for the park. High investments are needed for research, developments in innovations. Although the turnover of Disneyland Paris shows an increase of 1.29 billion of euros in 2011, the park has a net loss of 63.9 millions euros. The debt is still increasing and the company did not make profits.
The second point is linked with the attractions in a recreation park that makes the destination non attractive. Prices are problematic in that case. The park Disneyland Paris costs a lot for people.. Nowadays, the needs of customers change over the years. To face that fact, recreation parks have to modify and change their strategy.
This what Disneyland Paris did by focusing on innovation. The main issue is not to lost clients and to diversify the offer to attract them. It is a big challenge for recreation parks because if they suggest the same attractions people could get tired and could tend to another tourist destination more diversified and less expensive. If a park would continue to seduce tourists, it had to make available new attractions with new sensations. These rely on new techniques and technologies. Even if it is difficult to make a customer a member of the park, it is necessary to take him back. The renewal of new customers is a tremendous stake for recreation parks. It is essential to meet the demanding needs of consumers in terms of entertainment and quality of service.
Disneyland Paris is one the recreation park who has experienced numerous incidents. The worst incident happened in the 25th of April 2011 on a Disneyland Paris’s attraction. They are rare in recreation parks but some of them put into question the safety of amenities. According to the law of February 2008, a technique control is made once a year. The safety has to be followed each second and it requires the attention of each tourist by respecting the rules in a park. The “zero risk” does not exist”.
Even if, these facts are real no one is perfect. The idenfication of weaknesses is decisive to adopt strategic plans appropriate.
The different elements mentioned in the negative aspects of recreation parks can be a brake on the choice of a destination. Recreation parks are both a strength and a weakness in tourism industry but they create opportunities as well as threats for destinations and tourism business.
The following part will discuss about opportunities in the first place. Lastly, we will argue on the different threats implied by recreation parks for destinations and tourism business.