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Economic factors.

Among these are worth mentioning:

a. International financial institutions facilitating 24-h trading and easy transfer of money and investments (Telfer and Sharpley 2008). Of course, this was made possible with the help of new communication and information technologies. Some of the innovations in this area have greatly impacted the development of tourism (both mass and alternative forms): credit cards, ATM machines, etc. Today, tourists do not have to carry large amounts of cash or worry about currency exchanges.

b. Homogenization of economic systems and the spread of neoliberal ideas. Much of the post-WWII period was dominated by the antagonism of the bipolar world. After the fall of the Soviet Union, capitalism (in its neoliberal form) spread worldwide, ideologically uniting the globe. Neoliberalism represents a set of ideas based on laissez-faire economics and was officially adopted at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher in the UK and President Ronald Reagan in the USA. It recommended the withdrawal of the state from the economy and the introduction of economic liberalization policies such as privatization, deregulation, and support for free trade and foreign direct investment. Then, the global financial and economic institutions (such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization), dominated by the USA, pushed for the implementation of these policies around the world. This has led to the removal of trade barriers and to the economic domination of transnational corporations (TNCs). In many developing countries, it is argued that TNCs are stronger than governments, which depend on them for capital and technical expertise (Reisinger 2009). The privatization of airlines and the deregulation of the air transportation sector have increased competition on the most circulated routes (reflected in lower prices for the consumer) and eliminated other routes which were not profitable, thus impacting the tourism geography of the world (Goeldner and Ritchie 2009). The period after 1980 is also characterized by the consolidation of business in the tourism industry, with numerous mergers and acquisitions leading to quasi-oligopolies (Reid 2003). For example, a small number of tour operators (TNCs) dominate the European tourism market (Holden 2008). Due to their size, they have a huge bargaining power, with the tourism service providers seeking increasingly larger discounts and longer terms on payment for the services delivered (thus eating into their profits). They could also easily exclude destinations and include new ones, putting further pressure on local tourism providers to squeeze their profits (Telfer and Sharpley 2008). Strong TNCs are also present in the airline industry, international hotel chains (Hilton, Sheraton, etc.), restaurant chains (McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.), theme parks (Disney), and other providers of tourism and hospitality services. They have not replaced small local companies but rather coexist with them (Williams 2009).

c. Fordism (named after Henry Ford who first mass-produced automobiles in the early twentieth century) is based on the use of assembly lines and a very strict division of labor to manufacture standardized products in very large volumes. It also relies on mass consumption and on heavy use of advertising to create economies of scale (Stutz and Warf 2012; Dicken 2011). Fordism is visible in the mass-standardized tourism packages put together by tour operators and offered to mass tourists (Ioannides and Debbage 1998; Telfer and Sharpley 2008). Fordism is, however, very rigid, as any shift to a new product can be done at a very high cost in terms of time and money.

d. Deindustrialization. By the 1970s, it became evident in the developed (industrialized) countries that profits were continually diminishing in the manufacturing sector, as they were losing competitiveness to some of the newly industrializing countries (NICs). Eventually, most of the laborintensive industrial jobs were transferred to a number of NICs (especially in East, Southeast, and South Asia). The remaining industrial jobs are those in the more capital-intensive and more knowledge-intensive industries, but even there, many jobs have been replaced by computers (the new communication and information technologies helped these countries to maintain their global competitiveness at the expense of jobs). By 2010, more than 20 million industrial jobs had been reduced in the developed countries (the new transportation and communication technologies made this possible; for example, the use of containers cut transportation costs by as much as 90 % in some situations, and the widespread use of computers, the invention of barcode readers, and the new communication technologies, such as Internet, messenger, Skype, and live cameras, enabled the management of the different operations of the same TNC spread around the world) (Stutz and Warf 2012). Most of the manufacturing jobs in developed countries were replaced by jobs in services. Tourism has become a very important development tool for many countries, not least because it is capable of generating many (albeit low-paying) jobs. Many industrial cities and towns (e.g., Baltimore in the USA and Birmingham in the UK, among many others) had to reinvent themselves in order to attract tourists. Billions of dollars have been invested to transform these industrial cities into service-oriented tourism destinations. Similarly, the development of rural-based tourism is perceived as an important economic tool for the revival of rural communities and economies (Williams 2009).

e. International division of labor. Most manufacturing jobs have migrated from the developed countries to a small number of developing countries (with China on top of the list). In developed countries, tourism, which is a labor-intensive industry, has become a very important tool for economic growth. Tourism has played the same role in the majority of developing countries where industrialization has not been successful.

 
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