“Marketing, the management of demand, plays an important role in sustaining tourism by channelling tourists to more resilient places, and visitor management can be used to ‘select or deselect tourists, control their flows and influence their behaviour through promotion and education’ (Liu, 2003:463)”.
Demarketing can be used to discourage visitors in order to reduce negative impacts – as with marketing there is a range of methods available from price rises to reducing promotional activity and spreading the word that the quality of the experience has deteriorated to discourage visitors. Demarketing was successfully used at Sissinghurst Garden in Kent (Benfield 2001) by marketing the garden as a place where you would need to wait
De-marketing involves manipulating the 4Ps of the marketing mix. It is a major step, so managers must consider the situation carefully before deciding to take it. In the case of cultural heritage sites or protected landscapes, this would involve:
- Product: restricting the number of entrance tickets sold per day or per hour;
- Price: increasing prices to restrict those who can afford to visit;
- Place: restricting group visits or packages at peak periods of the day / season;
- Promotion: reduce the amount of promotional material and channels.
The use of price-related de-marketing has obvious ethical considerations. “[t]o be able to use price to limit the number of visitors requires that consumption should be excludable – only those who pay can benefit from the visitor experience. But this is frequently deemed undesirable in the case of natural resources or the historical and cultural artefacts of a country, either because they are public
Limitations of demarketing
- changing the established behaviour and preferences of tourists, tour operators, guides and coach companies is a major task
- more difficult to reduce overall demand than to channel it to other times or similar places – first-time visitors and many repeat visitors will prioritise the honeypot places
- may reduce demand for some businesses and they may be local voters
- raising prices will impact of local users and domestic visitors
Once visitors are at the site their behaviour can be influenced and managed by guidelines and codes of conduct, guides and interpretation.
Beeton and Benfield (see below) have examples from Italy, Sissinghurst in the UK, and Australia.
Beeton, Sue, and Richard Benfield. “Demand control: The case for demarketing as a visitor and environmental management tool.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 10, no. 6 (2002): 497-513.
Benfield, R. W. “Good things come to those who wait–Demarketing Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent for sustainable mass tourism.” In TTRA Annual Conference Proceedings, pp. 226-234. Boulder, CO: Travel and Tourism Research, 2000.
Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. & Wanhill, S. (2008) Tourism: Principles and Practice. Prentice Hall.
Liu, Zhenhua (2003) Sustainable tourism development : a critique. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 11 (6). pp. 459-475.
Medway, Dominic, Gary Warnaby, and Sheetal Dharni. “Demarketing places: Rationales and strategies.” Journal of Marketing Management 27, no. 1-2 (2010): 124-142.