1. Study recognition and preparation. The first stage in planning process is associated with the recognition of the need for the strategy in order to obtain and/or increase competitive advantage to contribute to long-term growth. Depending on available budget and a range of other factors, studies may be planned to be conducted on local regional or national levels.
2. Setting of objectives or goals for the strategy. Goals and objectives need to be formulated according to SMART principle, where the acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
3. Survey of existing data. The survey of existing data or secondary research can be done through analysing relevant information available on wide range of tourism reviews websites, newspapers, magazines, books and other online and offline published materials.
The types of data that need to be collected from these sources include, but not limited to patterns of tourist behaviours, availability and quality of accommodation, impacts of environmental factors, social and cultural characteristics of tourism destinations etc. Importantly, the survey of existing data should cover all three directions: the state of issues at present, projected changes in the state of issues, and outline of principles for monitoring for the future.
4. Implementation of new surveys. New surveys are conducted in order to obtain fresh data and/or fill the information gap in relation to the tourism industry. Surveys can be conducted through online or offline questionnaires or interviews.
When conducting the survey it is very important to select respondents i.e. sample group members from amongst target customers for tourism destinations.
5. Analysis of secondary and primary data. In case of questionnaires, data analysis can be done through representing collected information in bar-charts, pie-charts etc. In case of interviews, on the other hand, data analysis may involve finding common patterns in responses provided sample group members and critically analysing these patterns. In data analysis it is important for secondary and primary data to be analysed in an integrated manner.
6. Initial policy and plan formulation. As the next stage in planning process, analysis of the entire primary and secondary information enable decision makers to develop initial policies and formulate initial plans.
7. Recommendations. A set of recommendations can be developed as a result of initial policy and initial plan formulation.
8. Implementation. Recommendations that are found as sensible and feasible by strategic level executives can be implemented into the practice.
9. Monitoring and plan reformulation. The last stage of the planning process involves monitoring the levels and nature of implementation of plans and engaging in strategy re-formulation if changes in internal and especially external environment require doing so.