Strategic determinants of destination competitiveness: a case of western tourist circuit, Kenya
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Kenya’s western tourist circuit is undoubtedly the country’s best kept secret. However, in spite of this, the circuit is one of the least competitive as most tourists prefer coastal beaches and selected protected areas. The purpose of this research was to establish the strategic determinants of tourism destination competitiveness in Kenya’s Western Tourist Circuit. This study was grounded on and guided by Ritchie and Crouch (2003) model of destination competitiveness. The variables under study were: destination attractors, support resources, destination management and safety and security. The objectives of the study were: to examine the effect of destination attractors on destination competitiveness, to establish the effect of support resources on destination competitiveness, to determine the effect of destination management on destination competitiveness and to examine the effect of safety and security on the relationship between destination competitiveness determinants and destination competitiveness. Explanatory research design was used to gather information while convenience sampling technique was used to arrive at a sample size of 102. Closed-ended questionnaires were used to collect data with key respondents being tourists. Multiple regression analysis was used to test hypothesis and deduced models that explained the strategic determinants of tourism destination competitiveness. Destination attractors were found to positively and significantly affect destination competitiveness whereas destination management and support resources had a negative though insignificant effect on destination competitiveness. Safety and security had a negative moderation on relationship between destination management and destination competitiveness and a positive moderation effect on the relationship between destination attractors and destination competitiveness, with effects being significant. However, Safety and security did not significantly moderate the relationship between support resources and destination competitiveness. The study recommends the following: a strong spirit of partnership and collaboration between all stakeholders to realize the potential of the destination inorder to maximize available resources. There’s need to upgrade the competitive position of the circuit by improving its image and creating awareness both at local and international levels. There’s also need for destinations to manage and organize their resources efficiently inorder to provide a unique tourist experience that outperforms alternative destination experiences. The study also serves the purposes of providing updated knowledge on theories, concepts, ideas and empirical studies on competitiveness in the context of tourism destination competitiveness. Further research can be carried on critical issues in the competitive process, competitive forces at the at the destination level. Future studies can also broaden the geographical scope by sampling the remaining seven circuits and within those circuits, sample many destinations. This would help understand tourists’ choice and loyalty for particular destinations. Finally future studies can try and identify the strengths and weaknesses in the destinations within the seven circuits which in turn will help develop correct positioning strategies.