An attempt has been made in this paper to investigate two key challenges relating to management and operations - capacity building, and quality of services - and to make suitable recommendations concerning the possible measures to overcome these challenges.
Tourism has emerged as a major business activity world wide. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that tourism operations generated revenues totalling US$4421 billion in the year 2002. According to the Council's estimated projections, tourism business will grow to over US$8614 billion by the year 2012, registered an annual growth rate of 4.5% in global demand (Page, 2003, p. 2). The Council also reported that tourism accounted for almost 8% of employment worldwide, which translates to one in 13 jobs. In the year 2002, tourism-related jobs totalled a whopping 198 098 000 jobs, and according to Page (2003), this is expected to touch the magical figure of 249 486 000 by the year 2012.
Stephen Page (2003) noted: "The late twentieth century and the new millennium have witnessed the continued growth of interest in how people spend their leisure and non-work time." Leisure pursuits and holiday tours are increasingly becoming a major non-work activity for millions of people across the globe. This growing interest to travel and holiday has now come to be recognised as a truly international phenomenon, or 'tourism' that motivates people to use their leisure time to visit different localities, landmarks, places and destinations across the globe. Added to this is the growing demand for tours and travels relating to specialized events, such as seasonal pilgrimages to holy sites and shrines. Among the latter, Mecca stands out as perhaps the single biggest spot the world over in terms of the number of tourists and pilgrims that flock to this holy city.
Growing Profile of Global Tourism
There has been a phenomenal growth in the demand for air travel since the 1960s. According to Page (2003, p. 144), the global airline industry carried 1600 million passengers (many of them tourists) to and from 10,000 airports, with 18,000 aircraft in the skies in the year 1998. Air traffic demand in Europe alone stood at 541 million passengers, and is expected to touch the 1101 million figure by the year 2015. With steadily increasing demand, several carriers and tour operators have even commissioned their own charter planes to woo tourists and to boost their tourism business. Boeing even evolved a hub-and-spokes services facility with point-to-point flight services. According to estimates, Hajj pilgrims to Mecca alone totalled the one million mark every year (2003). Among several reasons for this stupendous growth in tourism operations, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a lobby group in the aviation sector, cited mainly five factors (2003, p. 3):
A major downslide in the real cost of a travel
Increasing activities in international trade and economic deals that call for frequent