Advances in Applied Sociology
2013. Vol.3, No.1, 1-12
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 1
The Applied Sociology of Tourism. The Up Skills of the
Facilitator in the Italian Hospitality Industry
Nicolò Costa
Sociology of Tourism and Local Development State, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
Received May 30th, 2012; revised June 30 th, 2012; accepted July 20th, 2012
The sociology of tourism can be considered applied sociology. Therefore, it is necessary to ascertain the
up skills of the sociologist in the process of tourism planning. The present paper refers to the idea of phi-
losophic practitioner as a theoretical model and considers the sociologist as a facilitator of local tourism
development. To this purpose, I discuss some topics and working tools that can be used when the sociolo-
gist is asked to help local stakeholders create significant involvement of the local community. In particu-
lar, I propose some self-assessment tools to be included in a tourism process centred on local participation.
The paper focuses on fundamental questions concerning the techniques of bottom up regulation and the
techniques to facilitate the passage from individualism to collaborative marketing in order to attract visi-
tors suitable to the destination. The discussions are based inductively on tourism economic policies initi-
ated in Italy to create collaboration between local institutions and enterprises aimed at integrating local
resources (accommodation structures, transport, gastronomy, art and archaeology, etc.) and creating dis-
tricts or systems of Made in Italy hospitality. The results indicate the sociologist of tourism as a facilitator
of the collaborative partnership in support of the destination management. Many difficulties in creating
tourism districts or systems are due to the absence of this type of professional figure.
Keywords: Community; Local; Facilitator; Self-Assessment Tools; Local Tourism Development;
Participatory Planning; Made in Italy Hospitality Industry
Aim and Method
The aim of this study is to define the most effective and effi-
cient socio-organizational procedures in the realization and
management of local tourism development based on collabora-
tive marketing (Aas, Ladkin, & Fletcher, 2005; Fyall & Garrod,
2005; Branwell & Lane, 2000; Dredge, 2006a; Naipaul, Wang e
Okumus, 2009) between public projects and private initiatives,
but also between territorial public institutions and between
companies (belonging to the same or different sectors) operat-
ing in Italian tourist incoming. It is argued that the “collabora-
tive communities” provide a useful lens for understanding the
tourism planning between government, tourism producers and
civil society and, as such, have the potential to inform a par-
ticipative destination management policy and practice.
The guidelines or planning procedures are based on the fol-
lowing presupposition: social exchange, composed by trust and
reputation (not very present in hospitality), precedes and facili-
tates the economic exchange among the locals; this allows the
development or territorial marketing plans to be the substance
of the tourism system or district because it is managed by play-
ers who generate and receive trust and reputation.
The development plan, technically well written and a shared
effort, should make use of continuous guidance by the applied
sociologist, an expert in economic and geographical analyses of
destinations. The sociologist works within models of consen-
sual town planning, including Strategic Plans. He is charged by
a Promotion and Management Committee with the task of put-
ting into practice the few or many local skills and energies so
that they can generate creative groups aimed at defining collec-
tive businesses destined to endure in time and at delineating
good practices of a hospitable city with the residents and visi-
tors (Costa, 2008). The applied sociologist as facilitator is a
mediator (a true go-between) between knowledge of the tour-
ism market and innovative activities of the companies that de-
velop collective businesses with local bodies, thus acting as a
meta-manager of development (on the role of mediators of
knowledge in general, cf. Lopez-Cabrales, Perez-Luno, & Valle
Cabrera, 2009; Cooper, 2006). The mediation gives positive
results in terms of facilitation of aggregative processes, of em-
powerment of the human resources present in hospitality, of
guidance of the local players toward the realization of a precise
Network Project (Dredge, 2006a; Dredge, 2006b).
The present study is a methodological contribution aimed at
defining the guidelines of territorial planning centred on the
involvement of the stakeholders in planning and managing
network products. These network products are engineered
around natural and cultural primary resources, which by them-
selves prompt a trip, or around secondary/support resources,
interconnected and improved to form a unique and appealing
attraction (Godfrey & Clarke, 2002; Ritchie & Crouch, 2005),
reconciling promotion and marketing of the supply (Ejarque,
2009). This paper does not teach how to write the Local Tour-
ism Development Plan but how to have the Plan written (learn
to learn) by the local players by sharing knowledge that is im-
plicit or internal to the single organization and explicit or for-
mal knowledge codified in documents and projects.
It demonstrates that the sociologist of local development is
able to increase profits for those who have something to ex-
change so as to merit receiving something in exchange (linked
business). Therefore, the research is professionalizing and seeks
to demonstrate how a local development sociologist can play
the role of facilitator/empowerer/guide of aggregative proc-
esses (public and private decision-makers) for the planning and
management of a hospitality network for development regulated
via bottom-up consensus. It contributes to the debate on the
skilled worker (Ebit, 2008) and on the competencies of local
tourism development professionals (Costa, 2005; Biork & Vir-
tanen, 2005).
The study method consists in consultation of the Italian so-
cio-economic and territorial literature on tourism and local de-
velopment. The basic theory is that of social exchange as a pre-
supposition favourable to economic exchange and to the prac-
tical realization of territorial planning projects to integrate local
resources. To this end, the perception of the local players, con-
sisting of the assessment of costs and benefits and of a more
general satisfaction with the experience induced by tourism de-
velopment, can be measured to establish the attitude toward one
or more specific hospitality projects (Mason & Cheyne, 2000;
Jones, Jurowski, & Uysal, 2000; Tosun, 2002; Nunkoo & Ram-
kissoon, 2007; Tovar & Lockwood, 2008, for the theory and the
research method).
The international literature is hybridized with the professio-
nal experience of a sociologist-facilitator acquired during the
start-up of Local Tourism Systems (e.g. La Spezia), the inte-
gration of cultural events and territorial marketing (e.g. Festival
of Literature in Mantua, Festival of Ravello with the local tour-
ist consortium and the Foundation of the Festival), Strategic
Plans (e.g. that of Vasto San Salvo in Abruzzo) or Structural
Plans (e.g. at Cetraro in Calabria or Fiano Romano, a town near
Rome, or in the district of Acilia in the Municipality of Rome).
In each of these cases, the participatory planning was guided by
an urban planner, a graduate in architecture (sometimes an ar-
chistar like Vittorio Gregotti in the case of Acilia). The soci-
ologist-facilitator (the author of the present article) used the
self-assessment instruments described in this paper, included
in the Italian debate on Made in Italy tourism districts or sys-
The New Professional Framework: The Applied
Sociologist of Tourism as Philosophic
The sociology of tourism as applied sociology (Dasgupta &
Driskell, 2007; Steele & Price, 2008) faces a serious limitation:
in Italy, but probably in many developed countries, there are no
university courses with curricula expressly designed to train the
sociologist of tourism and local development by combining
education and practical training. The history of sociology of
tourism in the USA and other English language countries (Nash,
2007; Apostolopoulos, Leivadi, & Yannakis, 1996) and in
France, Germany, Spain, Poland and Italy (Dann & Liebman
Parrinello, 2009) highlights the predominance of macro-theory
over practical methods that could make the sociologist of tour-
ism a professional who could influence the policies of local
institutions and enterprises. Even when the sociologist uses the
case-study method or participatory observation or comparative
or quantitative methods, the empirical analysis leads to theo-
retical results that are little used (or not used at all) by the tour-
ism players. Indeed, in the second chapter of Holden (2005),
dedicated to the sociology of tourism, there is a clear concep-
tual break between the first part presenting some macro-theo-
ries (structuralism, functionalism, conflict theory, phenome-
nology) and the second part describing empirical studies on
tourist behaviour (starting with the socio-cultural impacts of
tourism and the local community): in other words, the empirical
studies are not guided by the theories. In reality, “great narra-
tions” and “great theories” belong to the modernity of the 19th
and 20th centuries. Today the sociologist is an “interpreter of
culture”; having abandoned the conviction of controlling the
social totality, he becomes a consultant who conducts research
to serve civil society and political society with multiple and
variable points of view, applying to his activity the post-mod-
ern paradigm of inter-disciplinarity and the paradigm of prag-
matism aimed at solving problems in what seems the best way
at the time. There is no profound truth and no prophecy about
the future.
In Great Britain, John Tribe (2002, 2009) has delineated the
figure of philosophic practitioner as a theoretical model of the
new tourism player, trained with a mix of professional compe-
tencies and liberal knowledge. This approach is a point of ref-
erence for the present study, even though Tribe includes soci-
ology among the liberal and reflective sciences and not among
those that provide professional and reflective competencies (e.g.
law, economics, marketing). Tribe’s model has sparked a dis-
cussion on interdisciplinary competencies and, above all, on the
hybridization of knowing with know-how, of knowledge with
competencies, in terms of training programs in tourism and
hospitality. The question about the sense of truth, beauty and
virtue in tourism practices is acceptable if one then provides
advice on how to improve erroneous practices, to eliminate ug-
liness or to indicate procedures for a possible good life. If the
discussion is closed within the world of theorists (academics),
the risk (especially for the sociologist) is to lose contact with
the social reality and to raise questions exclusively within the
community of experts, far from the changes occurring outside
of it.
The perspective of the philosophic practitioner, who com-
bines liberal-reflective and vocational-professional knowledge,
is convincing: it can make up for the discrepancy between the-
ory and practice. Therefore, the sociologist of tourism must also
open up to the managerial implications of theories and help
solve practical problems posed by the political and economic
players operating in tourism and hospitality. And this must be
accomplished by working with them and not “above” them
seated on a pile of books scrutinizing tourism events in order to
criticize them (for the limits of critical sociology applied to
tourism, Costa & Martinotti, 2003). If the sociologist of tourism
is a philosophic practitioner, i.e. applies himself to the solution
of problems, he can then teach others “how to” become a philo-
sophic practitioner who works in public institutions or in tour-
ism compani es.
Hence, the present paper is a contribution to the training of
the sociologist as philosophic practitioner who works in close
connection with local development planners and contributes
with up skills to urban, rural and environmental regeneration.
Above all, he is recognized for his abilities as a socio-economic
analyst of resources to be improved and of the impacts of tour-
ism on the local community, and thus as a facilitator of good
practices that generate collaborative partnerships to attract visi-
tors and make them spend t heir money at the destination (Costa,
2005, 2008; Costa & Testa, 2012; Biork & Virtanen, 2005). For
this reason, it is appropriate to describe the up skills of the ana-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
lyst-facilitator of local tourism development or of the post-Ford
hospitality industry, as a specific professional figure of phi-
losophic practitioner.
LTS, CD, TD: Toward an Industry of “Made in
Italy” Hospitality?
The tourism development model was established by Italian
legislation as a Local Tourism System or LTS (art. 5 Law 135/
2001). However, the basic ideas were the same as the one
drawn up by the Tourism District established by the Region of
Sicily based on art. 7 of L. 15 September n. 10 and the Disci-
plinary Regulation (D.A. n. 4 of 16.02.2010) which literally
reproduced its mandate and guiding idea, namely to facilitate
the effectiveness of the economic players at the level of the
supply chain in order to promote and market innovative prod-
ucts (Della Corte, 2009; Sciarelli, 2007; Dall’Ara & Morandi,
2006; Lazzaretti & Petrillo, 2006).
With the promotion of inter-organizational models, the leg-
islation sought to initiate a process in which competition and
cooperation between public institutions and private companies,
alone or in partnership, could alternate so as to move ahead
with product innovations and to attract tourist flows and expen-
ditures to the destination, generating new jobs and growth of
the gross domestic product (for LTS, cf. Dall’Ara & Morandi,
2004; Lazzaretti & Petrillo, 2006; Sciarelli, 2007).
This approach was borrowed from the Made in Italy “Indus-
trial districts”, which were also established by Italian legislation
(law no. 371 of 1991) and subjected to attempts at protection in
terms of certification of the final product and of the Italian
concept of enterprise, with specific values that characterize the
Italian mode of economic development. In fact, the Made in
Italy of industrial districts was publicly praised by President
Clinton during the G7 meeting in 1994.
There is a thread linking the sectorial interdependences of
tourism with the image of Italy in the world. The excellence in
archaeology, art, food and beverages, fashion, interior design,
industrial design, cinema and sport has something in common
with the touristic trip: the productive use of visual culture. The
culture of images and the economy have long been linked; they
are doctrines that are hybridized to generate an added value in
aesthetical terms, a policy and a poetry of taste applied to goods
(Costa, 2009). Why not reproduce their good practices in tour-
ism? There is a current broad political debate on Made in Italy
and the difficulties in protecting it from the unfair competition
of counterfeiters. This internationally successful model should
be defended and strengthened in the era of globalization, exten-
ding its factors of success to other sectors such as tourism but
also to “cultural district s” or CD, which are also planned at the
regional level but with little success (as supported by Sacco &
Tavani Blessi, 2005). In reality, these attempts always make
reference, directly or indirectly, to the input-output of indepen-
dent financing, which guarantees the persistence in time of the
experiential tourism economy and of mobilities (cf. Ciapetti,
2010). Therefore, the CD should be considered sub-types of
tourism districts or TD, and the great contributions of research-
ers to CD should be reproposed as tourism-culture districts
within the renewed LTS or the Sicilian TD, without useless
overlaps and “competing arguments”. Hence, the CD should be
included in a broader territorial marketing program centred on
the knowledge and satisfaction of customers subdivided by trip
variables (residents, day-trippers, tourists, business persons) or
by socio-demographic lifestyles and spending capabilities (youths
on school trips, elderly people with a lot of free time, traditional
middle-class families). The improvement of resources with per-
sonalized services based on the target is the approach that also
involves CD, which work if the demands of cultural tourists are
However, there is a formal public awareness that Italian eco-
nomic development, freed from top-down directives and orders
but supported by targeted provisions, is based on competition
for the improvement of performances already present in the
minds of the local operators. There are vital energies available
locally for self-coordination within territorial and cognitive in-
frastructures guided by national policy, an effective economic
policy of Made in Italy hospitality that replicates the successes
of the industrial districts, now considered a tradition of the Ita-
lian path to modernization within the international division of
In short, LTS, TD and, I would add, CD are variants of a
hospitality industry—all to be planned and managed—which
plays an active role in attracting the “gaze” (Urry, 1990) of cus-
tomers by combining the creativeness of operators in sectorial
interdependences among culture, economy, society, territory,
environment, cultural resources, transportation and tourism.
The organizational receptacle—be it LTS or DT—is defined by
the actions agreed upon among the players involved in the bot-
tom-up development. In fact, tourism districts, theoretically
continuous with Made in Italy industrial districts (Costa, 2009),
are characteristic because the collective actions, generated by
territorial proximity, maximize the genius loci and local tradi-
tions and sell products effectively sought and chosen by the
segments of tourist demand, increasing their sales (measured by
cash flows). LTS, TD and CD can be understood as contribu-
tions or experiments that converge toward a Made in Italy hos-
pitality industry, given certain conditions and procedures of in-
tegration of resources and players. Therefore, if Made in Italy
enterprises play an important operational role (from design of
the hotels to organization of events to prolong the tourism sea-
son), then we can hypothesize a Made in Italy hospitality dis-
trict, defined by local specificities. Yet, this has not occurred
thus far and is merely a research and planning hypothesis. Ther e
are no good practices to be studied with benchmarking.
The principal differences between industrial districts and
tourism districts are that the hospitality players sell experiences
and relationships (people move, not goods), that the place of
production (goods and services of incoming) and the place of
consumption coincide, and that the industrial district arises
from the autonomy of civil society while the TD must have
public leadership because many environmental and cultural re-
sources are assets of administrations and must remain so (Costa,
2009). While a clothing company can stock its goods and have
sales, a hotel manager seeks to sell accommodation. If unsold,
it cannot be stocked because he produces and markets services
related to the time spent, to the immateriality expressed by a
room or a meal. In this context, the collective logics of tourism
operators require territorial and experiential marketing different
from industrial marketing aimed at selling the greatest quantity
of goods in a market assumed to be in continuous growth. In
tourism, relationships are marketed because the tourist, satisfied
with the service, can increase the reputation of the structure and
the number of its customers by means of advice to relatives and
friends, positively influencing their decision-making processes
(word-of-mouth marketing). Manufacturing sells goods, tour-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 3
ism sells relationships centred on the planned and perceived
quality of services.
The mix of public and private services characterizes the mar-
keting management of the tourism destination. Collaborative
partnerships arise from effective exchanges among local talents
(Fyall & Garrod, 2005, Watkins & Bell, 2003). These connec-
tive intelligences of the network (Dredge, 2006a), although be-
longing to different sectors (from agriculture to culture, from
transport to hospitality, from food and beverages to events),
converge toward a hospitality model that renders unique and
high-quality the experiential products, which can be acquired
only in the tourism district. If this convergence on the improve-
ment of services and the shared realization of network products
due to both geographical proximity and collaborative desires is
realized, we can speak of “Made in Syracuse” or “Made in
Assisi” TD because the local scale reinforces the national im-
age, understood as a melting pot of diversity.
Understanding “how to do” bottom-up collaboration to gen-
erate successful innovations means initiating the first phase,
namely the Promotion and Management Committee of a Net-
work Project, whatever might be its denomination. This step
forward is carried out in the (ideal and regulatory) perspective
of the hospitality industry, in the inclusion of talents belonging
to a broader local economy than the “restricted” tourism indus-
Several phases are proposed so that the Made in Italy hospi-
tality network can be initiated following an appropriate meth-
odology. Indeed, as an old proverb states, “well begun is half
done”. In the more formal language of territorial planning, it
can be said that we can interpret the fate of the process of pro-
duct integration and bottom-up participation from the DNA of
the Promotion Committee of a strategic or structural plan of the
hospitable city, of a network of restaurants and typical ag-
ricultural products, of a tourism-culture district or of a local
tourism system. The modalities by which the Promotion Com-
mittee involves the players to “put them to work”, together with
the reputation of and trust in the local talents asked to exchange
information and services, contribute to the collective ability to
generate pro-tourism social and intellectual capital, with a focus
on the satisfaction of the resident population, the satisfaction of
the local hospitality and transport entrepreneurs and workers,
but especially the satisfaction of the types of tourists to be at-
tracted and entertained by improvement and diversification of
the local offer.
Neo-Community and Cosmopolitan
Self-Assessment of the Destination
Communicative Ra tionality, General Strategy and
Strategic Projects
In the diagnosis of the destination, the Promotion Committee,
helped by a facilitator, initiates thinking on guidelines or points
of no return during introductory forums. The concepts of strat-
egy, collaborative marketing, network and system, glocalism
are defined because the local élite, which started the process,
believes in communicative rationality: access to information
develops competencies and reduces asymmetries among those
who wish to exchange learning to initiate profitable business re-
lationships (the most horizontal ones possible) (Dredge, 2006a;
Dredge, 2006b). Different people interpret networks differently
and their flexibility should be viewed as an advantage in “fa-
ciliating” understanding of the political complexities of col-
laborative planning (Dredge, 2006a: p. 579).
The local élite is part of the initiation of the hospitality in-
dustry network but knows that the final choices also involve the
exclusion of those who do not change with change, who do not
have specific skills or services to be improved, because not
everybody can exchange with everybody but many with many
(many-to-many relationship) in defining the strategic or struc-
tural or territorial marketing plan. The presentation of these
strategic ideas begins to delineate a strategic vision, induced by
the local élite.
The sociologist/facilitator poses the problem of eliciting the
management knowledge of the locals: he knows the methods by
which to transmit the knowledge accumulated from education
or experience at the moment it is actually used in the hospitality
industry (Turkson & Riley, 2008). He knows how to define the
importance of the process of self-assessment of the strategic
plan so that when he first introduces the public forum with a
talk the local élite immediately understands that the applied
knowledge of the facilitator comes from experience, from his
direct commitment in the Made in Italy hospitality industry.
The sociologist/facilitator contemporaneously appears as an
academic with formal knowledge encoded in books and articles
he has written on local tourist development and as a partner
who knows the real problems of the entrepreneurs, the workers
and the public administrators. He wants to help them in a
friendly way to bring out their hidden knowledge, the knowl-
edge learned with experience and made available in the public
forum. The forum is a working group in which the situation is
not that of someone who teaches and others who are taught; all
the stakeholders participate in a learning community that will
develop self-assessment instruments to program the tourism
from the point of view of the local community (Reid, Mair, &
George, 2004).
Clarifying certain guiding ideas at the beginning of the proc-
ess is useful so as not to find them unresolved when the process
is well on its way to a necessarily defective operation, with con-
sequent costs (vetoes, disagreements, withdrawals, etc.) to re-
pair the breakdowns of the system or network or district during
the course of the work. Nevertheless, the proposed strategy sen-
sitizes but does not convince, does not guarantee that people,
even if convinced, will begin to work in a group and will auto-
matically generate combined actions. Therefore, in addition to
the “exposition” of ideas, it initiates a change of perspective.
People listen but do not change their behaviour because of that;
communicative rationality generally orientates people but does
not per se prompt them to act and to change their behaviour.
In the introductory forum, the Promotion Committee, via the
self-assessment, encourages the locals to look with an “out-
sider’s” eyes at the local resources and eventual projects for en-
hancement of the immaterial and material patrimony. In this
way, it simply seeks to know the pre-conditions and socio-
territorial motivations to which is added inter-organizational
innovation aimed at guiding local tourist development. It veri-
fies the departure level following the introduction of the new
guiding ideas. This and nothing more. And it often receives
confirmation of the “limits” to participation more than positive
surprises about the departure levels.
In reality, during the initial public forums and in the topical
focus groups, the locals are not able to assess a strategy, con-
sisting of so many numbers and so many idea s: the pe ople oft en
have cultural “limits” or little experience in discussions of pro-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
activity and of a general vision based on the evaluation of im-
pacts at the level of sectorial inter-dependences, external dis-
economies and long time periods (Tosun, 2002). Instead, they
are able to think about precise initiatives; they activate their in-
ductive thinking and then, guided by the facilitator, develop
proactivity and vision. Therefore, the initial phase mainly in-
volves the assessment of hypotheses of strategic projects in
order to establish whether to create a territorial network or not,
based on the costs and benefits but certainly also on more gen-
eral values like the collective well-being and the sustainability
of the projects. Hence, it is more effective to present strategic
projects rather than to merely play the top-down educational
role in explaining what is a territorial strategic plan or a territo-
rial tourism marketing strategy. We are dealing with under-
standing how to encourage, initiate and manage the self-think-
ing ability of the residents concerning the advantages of colla-
boration. We are dealing with modelling the communitys sup-
port of a project, included in a very loose strategic vision which
combines the local resources to increase the attraction of the
interconnected places, balancing the satisfaction of the residents,
the workers and the tourists (Nunkoo & Ramkissoon, 2010).
The very fact that the strategic project involves people who
did not know each other prior to the public forum (e.g. the
owners of second and third houses who live in the place part-
time, along with incoming tour operators or the creative direc-
tors of the local museums or the local environmental associa-
tions) is a good beginning to recognize a limit to participation:
the physical co-presence and the dialogue between bearers of
different visions and interests is already an improvement in
interpersonal relationships. This creates a social capital favour-
able to the hospitable city (Costa, 2008); at the very least, it en-
courages involvement in the neo-community formed by locals
and open to the current visitors and it generates dialogue (Reid,
Mair, & George, 2004).
Strategic Proj ects o n Inf ormation Flow s and Spatial
Since local communities are not very aware of the new soci-
ety of information flows and new spatial mobilities (Adey, 2010;
Urry, 2007; Sheller & Urry, 2004), there is the matter of em-
powering the locals so that they perceive the benefits and costs
of projects of realignment to the new experiential economy, to
the post-modern hospitality industry. Therefore, it is necessary
to convince them of the advantages of the change of cognitive
paradigm and strategic perspectives by means of one or more
general projects centred on information flows and spatial mo-
bilities in order to remove any resistance to opening up to the
communicational and interpersonal interconnections with out-
siders put in motion by contemporary society.
A first guiding idea is the following: argue convincingly that
there is a positive correlation between the satisfaction of resi-
dents with the services currently used and the acceptance of
services used by “outsiders”. This guiding idea can be used to
generate the conviction that planning centred on the visitors can
produce benefits for the residents. This implies a change of per-
spective in urban and territorial planning, passing from immo-
bility to mobility. Passing from the image of the immobile soci-
ety to the local society as a node of a dynamic network, a local
society that can be regenerated merely by mobilities, is a dif-
ferent way in which administrators and many residents begin to
see themselves, starting with the personal story of whomever
has been rooted in the territory for a long time. And this is
problematic. The shift of focus is already a problem for whom-
ever is dissatisfied with his residential life and looks askance at
the idea that the administrators should think about the “others”
and not about those who have been there for a long time and
pay their taxes. In many cases, the tourism impact in the high
season brings about increased costs of consumer goods (e.g.
fresh fish and other foodstuffs) also for the residents; moreover,
tourist resorts, such as vacation villages, may tend to be self-
referential, with few job opportunities for the locals. In these
cases, the perception of the tourism impact is not positive and
there are legitimate doubts about the opportuneness of planning
the hospitable city, let alone if we add the Made in Italy tag
which the destination reinforces and characterizes.
In parallel, the passage from localism to cosmopolitanism is
not something that is realized with communicative rationality
and moral suasion by presumed “enlightened” people toward
“closed-minded” masses. It activates the context of socially di-
ffuse resistances in which advantages are lost, such as the “po-
sitional gains” of those who are not competent in managing the
innovations and are content that things remain as they are be-
cause they are elderly and not very proactive or because they
are convinced that the art of making do will save them no mat-
ter what happens. If not adequately guided, the passage acti-
vates resistances that limit participation.
In large multifunctional cities and in small rural towns, in
northern and southern Italy, the passage to management of spa-
tial mobilities as a focus of urban and territorial planning places
in doubt the centrality of the immobile people who wish to re-
main so because they are mistrustful of outsiders and orientated
toward shared mistrust (e.g. they are suspicious of the oppor-
tuneness of collaborative partnerships because the players have
always operated in an individualistic manner and they think that
this is the one best way, the only way to operate, and that the
model of working groups and network is only an abstract ideal).
From Villa Adriana in the province of Rome to Noto in the pro-
vince of Syracuse, most residents, even including some public
administrators, prefer to live in “modern” houses which they
have built illegally, and they still cannot understand why
UNESCO (UNESCO, what’s that?) has defined those places as
“World Heritage Sites”. They fail to see them as a personal pa-
trimony: many people think that the “real” problems are differ-
ent and that those “ruins” and “old buildings” are extraneous to
their needs. Tradition as a heritage connecting the local to the
global is seen only as an “idea” imposed from above; often the
behaviours of the locals demonstrate that they do not feel tied
to tourist mobilities as a vehicle of a trend toward cosmopolita-
nism, which also involves them in modify ing attitudes and endo-
genous relationships within the local community and thus final-
ly the urban policies, shifting the attention to flows and mobili-
Neo-Community and Relational Diagnosis
The preliminary diagnosis or self-assessment is neo-com-
munitarian and relational (Murphy, 1985; Guidicini & Savelli,
1999; Savelli, 2008; Pearce, Moscardo, & Ross, 1996; Mos-
cardo, 2008; Nunkoo & Ramkissoon, 2010) because it involves
various segments of the local population to re-invent the local
community toward hospitality (a neo-community composed of
locals and visitors) and because it develops specialized ex-
changes and professional competencies in managing the net-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 5
work model of the destination as a collective company that puts
to work sectors which up to then had been weakly connected or
separated (system). The diagnosis is useful because it reduces
the risks of having to turn back in the planning of an experien-
tial tourism product to rediscover, but too late, the good reasons
of a “true” collaboration between public and private, a collabo-
ration that was not undertaken because it had been decided to
proceed by a shortcut or to ignore some strategic problems,
pretending that nothing untoward would have happe n ed.
In reality, we know how things will end already in the initial
phase. The pre-conditions and motivations of the local popula-
tion and stakeholders of “expanded tourism” are, as mentioned
above, the genetic material, the DNA, that gives rise to the in-
novative creative group; this group will become united and in-
ternational if this evolution is inscribed in the socio-political
and cultural heritage of the proponents from the start. Either it
exists (and it needs to be enhanced for the growth of the hospi-
table community) or it does not (and it needs to be grafted on
via the hybridization of knowledge). Otherwise, as often hap-
pens, if the knowledge and skills at the beginning are mediocre
—for instance, the localists predominate over the cosmopoli-
tans—the project to enhance the experiential tourism products
will also be mediocre and the groups will be constituted with-
out drawing along the associated players, connected in an inter-
mittent but constant and fluid manner to the network being con-
stituted from “the bottom up”.
Self-Assessment Phases
A Sociological Approach to the Destination
Unfortunately, only some English language manuals specify
that the governance of the district/system/network and the De-
velopment Plan should involve an approach in which participa-
tion is an integral part and considered a necessary activity that
encourages the talents of the civil society. The liberal approach
is more complex in Italy than in countries with an Anglo-Saxon
juridical (and also general) culture because the civil society is
very weak and politicians must also play the proactive role,
currently little practised, of meta-manager of local tourism de-
velopment, developing specific competencies. Nevertheless, I
have had the manual by Godfrey and Clarke (2002) translated,
while Steven Pike wrote an excellent manual, still in English,
on how to practise destination marketing (2008). Instead, the
manual by Ejarque (2009), an introductory tool to territorial
marketing, like so many other texts (Pechlaner & Weiermar,
2000) completely lacks national and international bibliographi-
cal references on the essential problems of how to make things
happen and how the marketing plan of the destination is effec-
tively applied and not consigned to a drawer, wasting time and
To avoid this and to overcome the limits of marketing for-
mulas which seem practical but then nothing happens, the (ap-
parently more theoretical) phases of the self-assessment leave
more lasting traces. In fact, they put the people to work without
the pretension of explaining with the manual the one best way,
the (apparently) definitive solution for all the problems. The
llan compiled by an expert is not the solution to the local prob-
lems; instead, the one written by locals with expert guidance is
a good start to resolve such problems according to freely chosen
and interpreted methods because they are based on rules and
commitments undertaken during the self-assessment process.
How can the first phase be managed to begin a network sys-
tem for the enhancement of the immaterial and material patri-
mony, defined in brief as community self-assessment? It con-
sists of the following steps, which must follow a chronological
order and must not become entangled.
First Step: Self-Assessment of the Positive and
Negative Impacts of the Tourism Flows on the
Environment, the Economy and the Local Culture
In the forum, the sociologist-facilitator links the assessments
to the governance of the variables via a structured organiza-
tional system such as a network territorial organization. The so-
lution to the problems and the maximization of the advantages
depend on the regulatory-systemic approach, which seems to be
the optimal solution to resolve collective problems and to sell a
destination as a unitary product recognizable by the targets to
be knowingly and selectively attracted and welcomed. It serves
to make people think in a general, not particularistic, manner
about the destination area as a potential collective player, en-
couraging the formation of creative groups. From this point of
view, a conference on “sustainable development” is more than
sufficient to define a debate which, initiated in the early 1980s,
is now present in the general economic (and not only tourism)
policies of the UNO, European Union and many inter-govern-
mental accords, also on a regional scale. The guiding idea is
that rules can avoid the negative impacts of mass tourism and
that there are macro- and micro-techniques which can success-
fully manage the tourism flows, with long-term benefits for the
local populations, for the incoming enterprises and for the well-
being of the hospitality workers.
The sociologist-facilitator uses Table 1 to demonstrate that
“anti-tourism apocalypticists” are exaggerating and that laxity
destroys destinations. It is all a question of rules that operate
between public interest and bottom-up development centred on
the enterprises (Costa & Martinotti, 2003). We begin from be-
low left, when there is low regulation at the destination because
the flows are also low. Occasional alternative tourism (OAT) is
the virgin destination where few tourists arrive. But it is no lon-
ger true that we pass obligatorily to unsustainable mass tourism
(UMT), typical of high-season destinations dominated by de-
mand, which are crowded, unliveable and unbearable. The rules
of sustainability have also given rise to planned alternative tou-
rism (PAT), disciplining the flows with macro- and micro-
techniques of territorial management, making them compatible
with the environment: the establishment of national and regio-
nal natural oases and parks belongs to PAT. Yet, even mass
destinations have introduced rules of eco-management with the
mark of ecological quality to limit the negative effects of the
masses, with the consequent realization of sustainable mass
tourism (SMT). SMT is also governed by the de-seasonaliza-
tion of flows. This model rejects the pessimistic view of the ne-
cessary decline of resorts because the sustainable tourism indu-
stry can reconcile protection of resources and their enhance-
ment for aware and responsible tourists, post-mass. The depen-
dent variable is given by the rules the local players are able to
produce and enforce in order to conserve the natural and cul-
tural resources for future generations.
Therefore, sustainable tourism does not represent the usual
frontier of environmentalism but an opportunity to enhance and
exploit the local resources of Italy, the functional integration
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 1.
Local community and regula t io n.
Note: Source: C osta (2005) and Weaver (2000).
between Italy’s historical and cultural heritage, its natural parks,
agricultural sites, excellent industrial and handicraft activities.
Increasingly, sustainable tourism constitutes a new code of eth-
ics of travel know-how, a lifestyle that permeates the evolution
of the entire sector, which characterizes the methods of use of
the tourism product, connecting the typicality of the products to
the development of the local offer systems. In parallel, it directs
public and private investments toward the environmental qual-
ity of the territory and toward the eco-management of the tour-
ism structures, which is obtained via the diffusion of informa-
tion and the training of tourism workers. In particular, giving a
central place to the network organization of the offer, it requires
that the stakeholders, beginning with the entrepreneurs and the
workers, know how to “harmonize” the solutions accompany-
ing the innovation driven by ideas and by reflection induced by
sustainable tourism as a thoughtful conscience of globalization.
The acceptance of this perspective, via the transfer of “for-
mal” knowledge to the “informal” knowledge of the public and
private local tourism players, is the condition able to reconcile
the territorial marketing with the guiding ideas of sustainable
tourism. In fact, Ritchie and Crouch (2005) wrote a manual on
how to manage the competitive destination according to the
sustainable tourism perspective. More in general, the theory of
regulation of tourism flows should be applied to the tourism
districts or systems of Made in Italy hospitality. Accordingly,
the territorial marketing plan is aimed at modelling the destina-
tions from UMT toward SMT exactly because the environmen-
tal and socio-cultural context constitutes the receptacle of the
new contents or the new tourist products, realized “among” and
“by means of” the sectors of excellence: gastronomy, art and
archaeology, fashion, etc.
Second Step: Self-Assessment of the Preconditions
and Motivations That Induce the Local Players to
Make Pacts or Alliances, to Create Collaborative
The community self-assessment is conducted via the socio-
territorial diagnosis of the behaviours assumed by the local
players in response to the strategy of operating in a systemic
manner to generate the products of the hospitable city with the
residents and visitors. It serves to induce the emergence of the
interests in play and to enhance leadership and coordination.
During a public forum, the expert-facilitator seeks to make
the local stakeholders reflect on the difference between the
top-down model and bottom-up model, orienting the debate so
as to prevent abrupt and useless contrasts between the two. For
this purpose, he can make use of Table 2.
The second model is more suitable for the network business
model, but this is not an act of faith: the learning community
(the sociological framework of the knowledge management)
discusses the topics proposed by the table, trying to adapt the
discussions to the local case, to its specificity. In fact, no desti-
nation is equal to another nor must it undertake to become so,
exactly because the local groups are called on to interpret the
orientation schemes and to produce original solutions, specific
to the places interconnected by services.
The sociologist-facilitator describes the table, clarifying the
concepts by means of comparison between the top-down model
and the bottom-up model, item by item. Indeed, the advantage
consists in the fact that the table constitutes an orientation com-
pass to decide, in general, what can be the advantages of a bot-
tom-up self-organization which is also institutionally covered
and legitimized from the top, such as national and regional laws
aimed at encouraging and regulating tourism development with
network models. Within the self-assessment of the precondi-
tions, a question is raised that is less institutional and more re-
lated to the forms of participation in collaborative marketing
that innovates already cons olidated business practices.
The improvement process that the self-assessment triggers
can be described wit h Table 3 , modified from Watkins and Bell
(2003). Naturally, the objective of the network model is tourism
development, measurable in the course of the years, and not
that of collusive collaboration aimed at access to regional pub-
lic resources, which are thought of as the greasy pole, in which
what counts is to do a lot of elbowing and gain access to public
monies so as then to distribute them to clients. In the latter case,
Table 2.
From Governance model to Participation-consensus model.
From: Lar ge project, with
predefined funding
To: Smaller project , open to
progressive bottom-up
From: Institutional
To: Local operational
leadership by entrepreneurs
From: Top- down plann ing To: Shared vision, but locally
defined plans
From: Proactive public
To: Proactive public
authority, but at the serv i ce
of the local community
From: LTS sufficient to
initiate the pr ocess
To: LTS requiring
professional operat ional
From: Top- down
decision-making process
To: Local operational
decision-making process, in
small irreversible steps
From: High organizational
and instituti onal costs,
To: Only operational costs,
with local parti cipation
From: Sectorial hypotheses
and competent public
To: Sectorial hypotheses and
non-competent public
ote: Source: autonom o us elaboration.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 7
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 3.
From competitive fragmentation to collusive (and th e n in n o v a ti v e ) c o l l a boration.
Types of experiences
Dimensions Fragmented competition Cooperation Collusive collaboration
Time Immediate, often in response to actions
of competitors
Short- to medium-term, often in response
to projects initiated by the hospitality
Long-term, often in response to existing
Trust Minimal, t h ere is no trust in other
businessmen of the sector Low to medium, toward the main
organizer and collaborative players
High among the closest members, the
others devel op it in relati on to the results
and if they a dapt themselves
Involvement Mainly self-oriented Generally low, relatively easy to obtain Medium to hi g h, obtained with “use ful”
but not necessarily “true ” results
Goals Short-term, directly lin k ed to the
financial performances and easily
Medium-term, linked to the stimulus for
the business but not re a dily me as ure d
Long-term, linked to t he opportunity to
consolidate the business and not easily
Beneficiaries Gains mainly limited to the
organization Gains for the members of the
organiza t ion and ofte n fo r the region Gains for the me mbers of the
organiza t io n and for th e region
process Individual, limited to the r esults The decisi ons are made by “strong”
individuals or by sm all groups which
convince the others to f ollow them
The market shares are orientated by
Note: Source: Watkins and Bell, 2003 (modifie d by the author).
the present study is perfectly useless and the reader is invited to
look elsewhere, since the strategic objective is to favour col-
laborative partnerships for the competitive innovation of net-
work products which produce a “leap forward” of the destina-
tion as a collective company based on loose, specialized, crea-
tive exchanges and concretely measurable productive actions.
Nevertheless, the presentation of Table 3 allows us to reflect on
the fact that innovation through collaboration must still be writ-
ten; it is the vertical column that does not yet exist. And to con-
struct a new modus operandi we have the network institutional
organism to be planned as a tool of governance of change.
The facilitator of the aggregative processes, on behalf of the
Promotion and Management Committee of the network organi-
zation, describes the contents and variables that accompany the
process of change from head-to-head competitive fragmentation
to collusive collaboration guided by leaderships oriented to-
ward the control of resources, and then on to the invention of
good practices in which are dictated the rules, rather loose but
generated in an aware and responsible manner, concerning the
strategic and operational guidelines of innovation born from
many-to-many collaborative marketing.
Fourth Step: Sel f-As sess ment of Whom We Wan t to
Invite. The International Middle Class?
It has already been mentioned that not all types of tourists are
suitable to the destination and it is necessary to proceed in a se-
lective manner to avoid territorial incompatibility with various
users. In general, those to be selected as targets are those in a
growth phase. If the objective is cultural tourism, the sociolo-
gist-facilitator will demonstrate that the resources of the mate-
rial and immaterial heritage are highly appreciated by the new
international middle class, self-confident consumers accustom-
ed to purchasing services on-line, to dealing with the risks of
trips, to carrying out sporting and cultural activities at the des-
tination (Costa, 2008; Gretzel & Jamal, 2009; Valencia &
Crouch, 2008). If this is the choice, the arrivals and presences at
the destination do not count, the tourist expenses count. In this
case, we want well-off professi onals. We do not want the masses,
we want cultured, sophisticated, elegant people able to assess
and appreciate re-invented tradition, the tradition that comes
after the tradition, which the stakeholders have begun to pur-
posely build in the preceding phases of bottom-up planning le-
gitimized from the top by regional directives.
Reducing mass tourists and inviting tourists of the high-value
tertiary sector is a strategic choice in tune with the general
changes of contemporary capitalism. We are dealing with in-
creasing the flows already present at the destination: advertising
agents, information technologists, designers, international lawy-
ers, entertainment people, biotechnologists, doctors, etc., com-
ing from all over the world. Indeed, the immaterial heritage
events are co-produced by professionals who want to re-invent
a tradition they feel is their own, their chosen one, because they
have bought or rented a house. They are the medium of re-in-
vented authenticity. They should be welcomed inside a creative,
innovative neo-community, which considers worth and talent a
source of pride and a lifestyle, realigning the quality of the offer
with the expectations of the professionals placed at the centre of
the process of improving the offer.
How do the players of the post-industrial society, of the high-
value tertiary sector dominated by workers who make scien-
tific/cultural knowledge a distinctive resource, spend their free
time and tourism? The new middle class has been defined as
city users” (Martinotti, 1993) to underline the distinctive char-
acteristic of mobility “among” cities, expressed mainly by mo-
bile people who mostly live in a post-industrial city, carrying
out creative activities (Florida, 2002). The middle class tourist
types are nothing but a part of consumers who use the city to
exploit its recreational and cultural aspects, incorporated in a
unique lifestyle (this is the case of metropolitan businessmen
who travel for business, frantically taking part in work meetings
or specialized fairs). Who are we talking about? In the early
1990s, a new international middle class was identified, differ-
ent from mass tourism on the organizational, motivational, vo-
cational, behavioural levels and with a capacity for medium-
high expenditure, especially for the acquisition of cultural good s.
It is characterized by:
1) “professionalism” in travel know-how (congress and
business tourism, frequent flyers, low-cost consumers, short
breaks, etc.): the players travel in a desynchronized manner
because they are self-employed or because, if employees, their
collective contracts have favoured very short weeks and they
opt for long “weekends” and reduce the period of the “main
vacation”. They do not like the “single mouthful” trip but that
of “many morsels”. They do not have to adjust to the tourism
services, the services must be flexible enough to be chosen se-
parately and recombined to adapt to the subjectivity of the tour-
ists/travel know-how professionals. They are characterized by
intermittent connections;
2) “intellectualization” (search for active roles in order to
learn with the five senses, polysensoriality): learning is con-
nected to “play” for which the tourist trip continues the poly-
sensorial “pleasure” of expanding the exploratory instinct, alter-
nating many activities, from sport to spiritual experiences (su-
permarket of the “sacred”, gleaning a bit of Buddhism, which is
particularly liked, and yoga practices, intermixed with diets
promising to “put you in good shape”) or experimentation with
local foods with solitary walks or bicycle trips. The travellers
become interpreters of the local cultures which they love to
re-invent and relive;
3) “cosmopolitanism” (mental opening to all types of social
and cultural differences and appreciation of biodiversity, fol-
lowing the influence of the values of sustainable tourism). In
particular, themes of sustainability have influenced the urban
and territorial policies of tourism; thus, the introduced rules are
part of the new lifestyle of the international middle class, which
appreciates the local players if they regulate environmental im-
pacts because it seeks to respect them (code of ethics of aware
or responsible travel know-how, with respect to the plurality of
cultures to be preserved for future generations of tourists).
The collective subject of the middle class is recognizable on
the basis of tourist consumption. It is not a pressure or interest
group. It does not act, like unionized workers, with a collective
logic to exert organized pressure, such as the acquisition of paid
vacations or reduction of the hours worked. It is misleading to
label it politically. The international middle class of city users
is the consequence of complex economic and socio-cultural dy-
namics which delineate the trend toward a tourist lifestyle, de-
fined by many as post-mass tourism analogous to post-indus-
trial or post-modern. It is the tip of a “long-term” socio-cultural
Stebbins (2007) defined this segment as serious leisure,
which is the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist or vol-
unteer core activity. The travellers find this activity so substan-
tial, interesting and fulfilling that, in the typical case, they
launch themselves into a (tourism) career centred on acquiring
and expressing special skills, knowledge and experience. Seri-
ous leisure has been typically contrasted with “casual” or “un-
serious” leisure, which is considerably less substantial and does
not offer the kind of career just described. A quality distin-
guishing serious tourists is the opportunity to follow a (tourism)
career in the endeavour, a career shaped by its own special
contingencies, turning points and stages of achievement and
involvement. The participants in serious leisure make a signifi-
cant effort and play an active role using their specially acquired
knowledge, training or skill in sport, culture, gastronomy, etc.
(Stebbins, 2007, 2012).
In our society, the clear opposition between “strain” of work
(full of content but disliked on account of the assembly line
rhythms and hierarchical organization) and “escape” (“vaca-
tion” of content, characterized by liberated fun, by “doing
sweet nothing” or by a lethargic lifestyle during the main vaca-
tions spent at the sea) is being eroded. The lifestyles of the
“new” social groups highlight clusters different from those of
mass tourism. There is no longer the trip as “doing sweet noth-
ing”, centred on escape and recreational components, for which
the “vacation” is empty of values because it must compensate a
repetitive job via the dream of fantastic experiences centred on
the “good life”, imitating the high consumption of aristocrats.
Instead, we are dealing with “minds full of ideas” that wish to
remain so throughout the year. These are people who are seek-
ing relationships between work and tourism. The trip of any
type is considered a contribution to the enrichment of one’s per-
sonality and job; it is no longer “something other” than work,
but is done with pleasure because it is related to innovation,
creativeness and self-realization.
The tourist demand expressed by the new middle class is in-
creasingly multi-motivated, and flexible, desynchronized, per-
sonalized, interactive/relational, friendly. It has formed during
the last 20 - 25 years and is growing to the point that it is a true
“creative class” which uses its free time in an active way to
reconcile play and work, aesthetics and productivity. And the
“mobility” among cities is typical of creative people: they do
not aspire to work in t he same city for thei r whole lif e but “take
flight” to various cities interested in becoming hospitable in
order to welcome them as best possible because their presence
enriches the economy and the culture of the cities in which they
operate for a certain period of years. The use of their “knowl-
edge” is the most important productive factor to achieve suc-
cess, just as once the raw materials and the “material” energy
sources were essential for the industrial society to make prod-
ucts of mass consumption. In Italy, the new international mid-
dle class is present in the Cinque Terre area, in the Monferrato
area, in Chiantishire, at Ravello, in the Trastevere district in
Rome, in some areas of Sicily, and in few other areas because it
increasingly prefers countries other than Italy.
To host this class, purposely selecting it with collaborative
marketing, the facilitator of the collaborative processes seeks to
make the players think about where to position the innovative
project in relation to endogenous social cohesion and interna-
tionalization by means of awareness and subsequent sale of
tourism goods and services for the new international middle
class. It is not the visitors who must adapt to the destination but
the destination operators who must adapt to the visitors in order
to satisfy them by improving the offer. Table 4, based on the
geographical approach of Dematteis and Governa (2005) with
modifications, can be used for this purpose.
The players invited to the introductory forum reflect on
“where” they think the TD should be positioned in the realiza-
tion phase. Most of them will probably place it in the lower
quadrants, between “fragmented self-centred” and “fragmented
open”. The model has the advantage of stimulating dynamism
and inducing the participants to think about what to do to en-
hance endogenous cohesion and improve the cosmopolitan
skills to attract the professional middle class. In substance, it
visualizes the course to take to reach the “ideal” destination of
the open and integrated TD, the above right quadrant. The table
invites the local communities and the inter-communities to
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 9
Table 4.
The TD according to the intensity of collaboration and internationaliza-
United self-centred TD Integrated open TD
High intensity
Low intensity
self-centred TD Fragmented open TD
Low intensity High intensity
Supramunicipal relations
Note: Source: Autonomous elaboration based on De Matteis and Governa
operate with loose and fiduciary, specialized and creative ex-
changes, as if they were a Made in Italy hospitality district
combining civic pride and ambitions of well-being because they
want to be protagonists in the new economy of networks and
experiential capitalism.
The reflection on expansive glocalism, with the corollary that
cultural goods are not sufficient but that services modelled on
the expectations of the international middle class are needed,
will reduce the risks of creating the usual dichotomy between
promotion of the image and marketing of the goods and ser-
vices. We know that the promotional mix is aimed at the sale of
products designed to satisfy a precise target, whose presence
excludes targets with different lifestyles.
Consequences: TPD (Tourism Policy Document)
After this work of bottom-up planning, the level of agree-
ment among the various players, small and large, public and
private entities, is formalized in a Tourism Policy Document
(TPD). The TPD is written in a loose manner, along general
lines, because it delineates a policy of marketing management
of the destination area based on the material and immaterial
heritage of the resources (Godfrey & Clarke, 2002, for how the
Document is written; Granovetter, 1998, for the concept of
strength of weak ties, which correspond to the loose ones, to
mark the specialized and non-oppressive aspects such as those
of closed communities).
The TPD serves exclusively to reach the objectives of inclu-
sivity of the players with distinct skills and goods/services
which can effectively exchange within the territorial and com-
municative network being constructed. In other words, it is
written in such a way that the greatest possible number of local
players can be recognized. It serves as a basis because the pub-
lic institutions and companies, single or in partnership, can
decide on their participation in the network inter-organizational
model or in the strategic plan of tourist utilization of the net-
work experiential products which the same players, with pre-
cise timing, undertake to realize. These are final products due to
the innovative collaboration (endogenous cohesion) to directly
or indirectly connect the destination, alternating the short net-
works with the long ones, to the clusters of demand to be de-
termined in detail in a subsequent development plan. However,
the TPD is binding on some points (for instance, it is also
shared by private players and only those who give something
can receive something in exchange) to ensure that the opera-
tional meetings not become mere rituals to attract financial re-
Therefore, unlike Trigilia (2005), Piselli and Ramella (2008)
and Ciapetti (2010), I believe that it is not the “decisionist illu-
sion” to underestimate the need of greater collaboration in the
different phases of the decision-making process among the va-
rious public and private players in initiating innovation, but ra-
ther the underestimation of ungoverned fragmentation, as un-
derlined by the cited model of Watkins and Bell. The decision-
ist illusion is overestimated by various theorists of local devel-
opment because the true problem is that each person thinks for
himself and the spreaders of doubts, including the non-existent
fear of the decisionist illusion, indirectly contribute to feeding
this fragmentation. The anti-decisionism theorists do not elabo-
rate procedures in which the pacts are maintained and there is
not formed an élite which justly applies sanctions, via incre-
mental solutions, to whomever is not changing and is wasting
time. The TPD serves to cement a local élite that wishes to go-
vern the processes with strategic choices or incremental deci-
sions requiring selectivity and priority in the choice of the clus-
ters of demand (not all types of tourists are suitable to the des-
tination) and that is aware that “not all the locals can exchange
with all” (some locals are excluded because they have nothing
to exchange or are incompetent). In fact, the TPD does not
reproduce the model of laws aimed at “helping” enterprises but
a new model, that of the creative group and of working toge-
As underlined by the failure of assistance to enterprises (De
Blasio & Lotti, 2008), the inter-organizational model supports
those who would undertake innovation or would start a new
network enterprise, apart from the presence of such an organ-
ism, because they believe in the new business models and are
convinced of being able to do so with their own abilities but
know that with the network organization they can overcome
many company limits and operational marketing limits. There-
fore, the TPD is loose in the opportunities offered but not ge-
neric because it is held back by the fear of decisionism. It is
open to the methods of socio-economic exchange and, contem-
poraneously, it delineates executive projects (to be tested dur-
ing subsequent focus groups) on which to have the players con-
verge, it sets precise limits within which the collaborative part-
nerships are asked to move.
The TPD activates mechanisms of internal competition. It
places at the centre the entrepreneurial activities of the players
of tourism, hospitality, transport, culture, agriculture, environ-
ment, gastronomy, fashion, sport and other sectors connected to
the ever more numerous international mobilities.
Conclusion: The Sociologist as Facilitator for the
Initiation of Collaborative Marketing of “Made
in Italy” Hospitality Networks
This article has highlighted the up skills of the sociologist/
facilitator of tourism development. The sociologist/facilitator
knows “how to” ensure that the players of the economy, tour-
ism, art, fashion and gastronomy meet, dialogue and begin to
work on a “strategic project” to be assessed through focus
groups and to be realized through policy documents created in a
bottom up manner. As applied sociologist, he/she is a “crafts-
man” (Hartmann & Sonnad, 2007) of the local development.
How can the results of his action be assessed with respect to
the expectations concerning these results? One positive result is
the very fact that people belonging to different sectors and un-
known to each other prior to his facilitation discover that they
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
have common interests and that they can benefit from “giving
in order to be able to receive something in exchange”. The suc-
cess is total if the TPD is included in the destination manager’s
agenda-setting and it helps to realize a broader policy aimed at
improving the quality of life of the residents and the visitors,
the “hospitable city” (Costa, 2005, 2008).
The analysis of Italian hospitality, in which the stakeholders
try to integrate tourism resources and other resources connected
to hospitality (e.g. fashion, food and wine, arts and archaeo-
logical areas), demonstrates that the sociologist/facilitator knows
how to contemporaneously use qualitative and quantitative stu-
dies. The two types of studies are complementary in the practi-
cal activity of bottom up planning inspired by sustainable tour-
ism (for confirmation, Davies, 2003; Riley & Love, 2000).
What counts is including the knowledge in participatory and
shared bottom up planning with precise and clear objectives.
Applied sociology does not seek truth but helps the players to
decide in an aware manner by facilitating communicative ra-
tionality among the stakeholders.
What inter-organizational model is suitable to plan and pro-
mote hospitality? The present study has provided an answer:
the mobile network model for the new mobilities of contempo-
rary society (Urry, 2007; Larsen, Urry, & Axhausen, 2007; also
Adey, 2010). Following the results and advice of the interna-
tional literature, it is necessary to begin a program of bottom-up
sensitization to provide public administrators and entrepre-
neurs with higher-level skills so that they are able to under-
stand and satisfy the needs of the new international middle
class of city users (Martinotti, 1993) or leisure tourists (Steb-
bins, 2007, 2012) or new creative middle class (Florida, 2002).
The destination’s tourism operators are also required to be crea-
tive and professionalized like the customers they wish to host.
They must contribute to the enhancement of the material and
immaterial culture, they must have the lifestyle of the visitors.
They must become professionalized, intellectualized and cos-
mopolitan. This path of change can be accelerated by relying
especially on young graduates in tourism disciplines who have
also studied abroad and by favouring the most competent
among them. To this purpose, the marketing of cultural tourism
products is devised by the economic players under the direction
of an external facilitator who helps them move, during the se-
minars and focus groups, from passive acceptance of mass
tourism to regulation of community-oriented tourist flows, from
the model of top-down governance to the model of bottom-up
governance, from individualism to competitive collaboration,
from localism to expansive glocalism.
In this context, LTS, TD, CD can be realized and “true” stra-
tegic plans can be approved as consequences of a collaborative
vision of local development, whose performance is measured
on the basis of the economic results achieved through the years.
In fact, the products characterized by immaterial culture and
material culture become “product clubs” and the governmental
organ of the district or system (they are the same thing) tries to
combine the promotion and sale of these products. What counts
is innovating with proposals modelled on the needs of the in-
ternational middle class, which must be satisfied in order to
spend more, to begin positive word-of-mouth marketing and to
accept small price increases year after year (thus reducing the
costs of the incoming enterprises in the promotion and man-
agement of the flows) because it acquires fidelity to the desti-
nation and to the enterprises.
The tourism district must be considered a large supermarket
of Made in Italy hospitality defined in terms of quality and local
uniqueness. The tourist enters the destination convinced of buy-
ing only a few things and leaves with a shopping cart full of
goods. He has been seduced by the destination manager, who,
supported by the long work of planning initiated with the neo-
community and syste mic self-asse ssmen t, ha s accompanie d him
to see places adapted to his expectations so as to help him hap-
pily spend where the locals want him to spend. The metaphor of
the shopping cart full of goods describes whether the district or
system (and any strategic plan) has been successful.
The difficulties that stakeholders have encountered in realiz-
ing territorial networks of Made in Italy hospitality are due to
limits in the knowledge management of the local institutions
and the incoming tourism entrepreneurs. Recourse to the exper-
tise of the sociologist/facilitator, who accompanies the proc-
esses of development with a good theory in mind and pragma-
tism in knowing how to create the networks and systems (phi-
losophic practitioner), can help the locals overcome the limits
of their knowledge, which in turn limit the success of the par-
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