There is, however, no set formula as to what constitutes the most satisfactory constitutional arrangement for the national tourism body. Tourism ranks as a full ministry in some countries with the minister enjoying a cabinet rank. Another arrangement in many countries is for tourism to share a minister with information or with arts, sports, culture or commerce.
Yet other possibilities include attaching the tourism office to the presidency of the council, putting it in the charge of an official of the rank of a deputy-secretary with an occasional voice in the council of ministers.
In others, it has the semi-autonomous status of a corporation and functions not as an organ of the government but, rather as a professional body outside it.
It will be apparent that the arrangement and the Constitution for the national tourist organisation vary widely.
It depends on factors like political structure of the country, the level of economic development, potential value of tourism to the economy, the level of tourism development and also, availability of capital for tourism development including infrastructural developments.
Functions of N T O:
The objectives of a National Tourist Organisation are to ensure that the maximum possible value from international tourism accrues to the country for its economic and social benefit.
To achieve this objective, the N T O has three main functions which are
The above functions of the N T O, however, will vary quite widely in relation to both (a) the degree of the direct intervention that the government desires to exercise and (b) the level of development of tourist industry in the country concerned. At the Estoril Seminar in 1966 (if England), it was agreed that the N T O would normally undertake the following function:
(ii) Information and promotion within the country,
(iii) Regularisation of standards of lodging and restaurants, (;’v) Control of activities of private travel agencies
(v) Publicity overseas,
(vi)Technical and juridical problems,
(vii) International relations,
(viii) Development of select areas and
(ix) Overall tourism policy and promotion.
Research is a basic function of a national tourist organisation. A concomitant of institutional promotion is research into the tourism potential of the principal markets and investigation into the marketability of the country’s tourist product. This is an important direct responsibility of the NTO.
Information and promotion within the country helps not only the actual international tourist but also, the domestic tourist. The information offices located at important tourist centres serve as a facility to the tourist. These are a major aid to tourists both overseas as well as local.
These centres provide important and accurate up-to-date information to tourists visiting various places. In most countries, the NTO has its own branch offices in strategic places throughout the country. These offices are responsible for information and reception service for visitors and liaison with the local tourist interests.
It is also the responsibility of the N T O to encourage and promote tourism consciousness among the government agencies and the public so that they will realise the benefits that a country can derive from tourism. Regularisation of standards lodging and restaurants is very essential for tourist satisfaction.
Since the growth of tourism depends directly on consumer satisfaction, the N T O is its role of administrator, manager and promoter of tourist product, acts as the government watchdog to ensure the maintenance of appropriate standards of quality and service of lodging establishments.
This supervisory role has been enlarged and strengthened because of the complex problem arising from the growth of tourism and the expanding needs for safeguarding the interest of tourists. The degree of tourism development, and of the travel sector’s maturity, naturally determines the extent to which the travel industries are self-regulating and the scope of the N T O’s supervisory role.
Control of activities of private travel agencies is another important supervisory role of the NTO. More and more tourists are utilising the service of private travel agencies. It is essential that the tourist should get good and efficient service and protection.
The NTO should be responsible for the maintenance of appropriate standards of quality and service of the travel agents. Travel agents should be regarded as having professional’s status and this could best be brought about by introducing appropriate legislation of the NTO. One of the most important activities of any national tourist office is promotion of the country as a destination for tourists.
Among other activities, promotion includes advertising, publicity of all kinds, public relations, the provision of information and the distribution of printed sales material. Planned publicity and promotion on behalf of the country are among the basic functions common to all N T Os.
Normally no other government agency exercises this function. The N T Os cooperate with other governmental departments and the travel trade in promoting tourism for their country.
Technical and Juridical problems are those which are related with the administration of law. This is very crucial as on it will depend the quality of various services provided by various sectors. N T Os have to be very cautious while, administering law. Technical problems on the other hand are concerned with the development and maintenance of various services.
Continuous detailed assessment has to be made of the extent to which the infrastructure, superstructure and organisation plans are likely to meet future tourism demands. It is imperative that the N T O should take part directly in each of these stages.
The optimum development of tourism in any country implies a close knowledge of the attractions of the market: the processing and presentation of the country’s attractions in the manner most favourable and acceptable to the market; action of the market to create effective demands; and the provision of adequate facilities, amenities and service to ensure the maximum satisfaction of tourists. All these areas are of u technical nature and the NTOs have to take proper care for their efficient maintenance.
International relations are a very essential part of tourism. International contacts resulting from tourism have always been among the most important ways of spreading ideas about other cultures. Tourism can be a vehicle for international understanding by way of bringing diverse people face to face.
It has been cited as a major contributor to international goodwill and as a prime means of developing social and cultural understanding among all people of the world. The interaction of a large number of people with the local population of a country visited, result in making friends.
It is the responsibility of the NTO to deal with those aspects of tourism development that have a bearing on relations with foreign countries.
It maintains offices and representatives abroad for the promotion of tourism traffic to the country, and has close relations with foreign tour operators, travel agents and carriers. It cooperates with NTOs of neighbouring countries in mounting joint regional travel promotion programmes.
Governments also empower NTOs to represent the country’s tourism interests in international organisations and, wherever necessary, to join with other government agencies in negotiations for the conclusion of agreements in the field of tourism with foreign governments.
Development of selected areas to attract tourists is necessary. In every country there are hundreds of areas of tourist’s potential. However, due to various constraints, it is not possible to develop all these areas. It is important to identify and select certain areas which have the maximum potential for tourism development.
A detailed scientific survey of these areas will help in avoiding wasteful expenditure. To the extent permitted by its economic resources, the NTOs should encourage development of selected resorts.
Existing possibilities of attracting tourists for mountaineering, winter spots, beaches, national parks, pilgrim centres, folk traditions and customs, festivals and sporting events-should likewise be developed and protected.
The National Tourist Organisation in a developing country should consider obtaining a preliminary survey in clearly what positive tourist attractions existed and how they could most effectively be developed within the limits of the resource available.
Overall tourism policy and promotion are very essential as they help in the optimum utilisation of resources. In calculating returns from investments in tourism, the national tourist policy cannot restrict itself to limited considerations of immediate financial and economic profitability.
It has to consider the beneficial effects of tourism on general national development where consideration of non-economic character may be equally or even more important than purely economic returns, viz, cultural considerations, social consideration, political consideration, etc.
The NTOs should take all these factors into consideration while formulating overall tourism policy and promotion. The NTOs should not consider tourism from its balance of payments aspects alone, but should take into account contribution which tourism makes to international trade by developing the national economy and enhancing social values.
The Organisation and Work of the NTO
The National Tourist Organisation is likely to be concerned with the following four broad areas:
(i) Administration, (it) Production, (iii) Marketing and (iv) Financing
The administration will be concerned with the personnel of the organisation, with the part to be played by tourism in the overall national development plan, with effective liaison with concerned government departments like finance, home, planning, health, transport, communications, education, culture, public works, labour .etc. Regional cooperation and legal matters and advisory service etc.
The production part will be concerned with all those elements and activities which make up the tourism product. Production will include the inventory and assessment of the country’s natural attractions and the development and protection of these assets; the requirements in infrastructure where tourist development is to be planned.
The drawing up of plans for regional or area development, the establishment of close relations with the hotel, catering and transport sectors of tourism, the recruitment and training of personnel for the tourist industry, etc.
The marketing areas will be concerned with research into the principal and potential tourist markets, their size, socio economic characteristics, preferences of tourists for food and accommodation, spending power and the like, with sales promotion, public relations, advertising, maintenance of overeats offices, etc. and collaboration with other countries in the same region.
Finally, the financial work will involve investment in, and financing of tourism in the country.
It will, for example, provide finical assistance for approved tourist projects, approve loans or grants for hotels, the provision of amenities, etc. seek and encourage private investment in various tourism projects and where these are not enough, perhaps seek funds from international agencies such as World Bank, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The role of foreign participation in tourism development is importance in many of the developing countries who do not have the necessary capital available for investment.
Another important area of the work of a national tourist organisation is its role as the spokesman for private tourism industries, to communicate their needs to the government and to strive for the most satisfactory solutions.
The NTO has to ensure that the expectations and operations of the private tourist operators are constituent with the aims and objectives of national tourist programme and policy.
With the recognition of tourism as an and the development of package travel, NTOs are experiencing the need to foster the integration of their country’s tourist industries (travel agencies, tour operators, hotels) so as to enable them to become more efficient and effective partners in promoting tourism in the country.
Whatever the tasks that the national tourism body is called upon to do, what is most importance is that it should have the full powers necessary to carry them out. The NTO can carry out its task most effectively and satisfactorily only when it has broad powers and adequate resources.
The governments should make adequate funds available to enable the National Tourist Organisation to carry out their work effectively. The NTO must, above all, have authority. It must be able to present effectively and forcefully the case for tariff among the claims of other sectors competing for government support and finance.
Lastly, is essential that the tourist organisation maintains a close and harmonious liaison which all other interests that may be involved in tourism development. To sum up, the national tourist organisation has to mobilise all potential national forces and resources available for stimulating the growth and development of tourism.