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The characteristics of tourism products

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Definition of tourist product
A tourist product is a concept that is made up of many components. These are made up of tourist attractions; provision of means of transport, lodging and its associated facilities and sources of entertainment. These components may be provided by one company or a group of companies in the tourism industry. It also involves the tourist enjoying these products from the time they step out of their houses till the time they get back home.

One of the characteristics of tourism products is that it cannot be touched. Tourism products are intangible so after using the product there is no physical proof that one has used it. For example, a tourist books a hotel and sleeps in his room for four days. When he checks out, there is no physical or tangible proof that he was in that hotel. There are no products to show proof of purchase.

Another feature of tourism product is that it cannot be separated from the provider, that is, it is inseparable. If a tourist enters a restaurant and orders food or drink, the person who is bringing the food or drink cannot separate him or herself from the food or drink being brought to the customer. The service provider and the service itself are conjoined. 

Tourism products are perishable
Also a tourism product is perishable when it is not consumed at the time and point that it is provided. Let us say, for example, that a bus tour from Ibadan to Lagos in Nigeria has been arranged and tickets have been sold out. If a passenger is unable to be present on time to board the bus, the product perishes. That particular product cannot be consumed again. It is lost. Similarly, if a tourist books a hotel at Lekki in Lagos but for some strange reason is not able to sleep in that room on the said date, that service is lost. He has to pay again to get another room on another day. 

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No ownership
The ownership of a tourism product is not transferable to the consumer. The consumer only owns the right to use the product because he has paid for it for a predetermined period of time or days. If a tourist pays for a hotel room, he or she has the right to use the room for the days that he or she paid for. After that he or she must vacate the room or pay for additional days if he or she wants to prolong the stay. The hotel continues to belong to the owner even if it is booked and paid for. Ownership does not transfer to the renter because he or she has paid for the room.

Customer participation
In the tourism industry, the customer by all means would have to partake in the delivery of the service being offered, otherwise, the service delivery would never be complete. In the industry, a product is being sold and a product is being consumed; there is no way this can happen without the customer getting involved. A tourist must be on a bus otherwise the service is not being consumed. If one pays for a hotel or a hotel is booked on a person’s behalf, the person must of necessity sleep in the hotel room for the product to be consumed.

Another characteristic of tourism product is that it is heterogeneous. In tourism, tourists make use of several services, including transport, hotels, restaurants, car rentals, and many types of indoor and outdoor recreational activities. However, what a tourist experiences at one place is not similar to the one experienced at another place. Even in the same restaurant, since there are many servers, the way one customer is served may not be the same as the way another is served. The element of the human factor creates a difference between one product and the other. Two different bus companies could transport tourists to the same destination but the tourists would have different stories to tell just because the drivers are different.

Another feature of tourist product is immovability. A tourist attraction such as a waterfall, mountain, beach, flora and fauna cannot be moved from where it is originally located to another place. Heritage sites have to remain where they are because that is how the tourist will enjoy and have value for his money. It is practically impossible to move a hotel or restaurant from where it is to another place without destroying the edifice.

1. a. What is tourism product?
    b. Highlight six features of a tourism product

The components of tourism
The different forms of tourism

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