Tourism Policy and Service Quality Management in Business Conference Tourism in Saudi Arabia
Date: 11 March 2019
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Management Studies
Abstract This study assesses tourism policy and service quality management in business and conference tourism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), examining the capacity of KSA to become an international business conference tourism destination. It considers the factors that could favour or hinder the expansion of the conference industry ...
Abstract This study assesses tourism policy and service quality management in business and conference tourism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), examining the capacity of KSA to become an international business conference tourism destination. It considers the factors that could favour or hinder the expansion of the conference industry in (KSA), Research was conducted through mixed methods, the fact that qualitative and quantitative designs complement each other – each covering for the weakness of the other including original data drawn from interviews and questionnaires. The target respondents are officials from the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau, which is the government organisation responsible for conferences, drawn from the public sector, and staff and managers of tourism companies drawn from the private sector. Understanding these factors is vital to enable stakeholders to address the opportunities and challenges that may emerge. Substantial analysis of the interviews and questionnaires brings out both important recurring themes and specific detail. The personal views of the participants reflect optimism for the sector’s current performance and its prospects in the future. The participants also noted that the continuous increase of the sector’s performance in KSA has been secured mostly due to the government’s support. It demonstrated that there are several positive factors about KSA that may promote a thriving conference tourism sector. This is contrary to the expectations that global issues such as terrorism, and the negative images they have painted of the Arab world from the Western perspective, which have increased safety concerns for delegates visiting KSA. A further objective was to analyse the quality of service and its effects on business conference tourism in (KSA). This facilitates the rating of the current condition of facilities used in conference tourism, as well as the status of supporting industries such as hospitality. Respondents in this context include external delegates who use these services and can give a first-hand account of their experiences. From these responses, it was established that that a large percentage of external delegates preferred staying in 4- and 5-star hotels. The fact that these hotels were available for these delegates meant that the hospitality industry in KSA is large enough to accommodate conferences and also that the level of customer satisfaction that they offer is relatively high. A further objective was to explore the social and political feasibility of KSA developing as a business conference tourism destination. This objective was addressed using the responses of internal conference delegates to evaluate how the social and political characteristics and perceptions of KSA may influence the future conditions of conference tourism in the country. The data gathered shows that there is a close relationship between social and political factors, and the performance of business and conference tourism in KSA. Several elements of the social and political environment have a bearing, not only tourism but also on other sectors in the country One of these is infrastructure; with appropriate infrastructure, which can only be attained with responsible political planning, the running of many industries will be smooth. This study has established that KSA has the infrastructural capability for hosting international conferences, and its organizational capabilities are good. The themes uncovered have pointed out that the Saudi tradition is significant in the development of Saudi Arabia as a business and conference tourism destination. Culture has been shown to be significant determinant of the sector. It is thus important to consider the cultural attributes that act as obstacles to KSA gaining a position as a business and conference tourism destination, while also noting that the themes have pointed out that several socio-political challenges surround the development of Saudi Arabia as a business and conference tourism destination.
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