Sea world (SW), one of Australia's world-famous tourist attractions located in the Gold Coast, QLD, welcomes more than five million guests per year (Pierce, 2014). The theme park provides services through their rides, animal exhibitions and other attractions. Its mission can be summated by the following: “To bring people together of all ages, cultures and backgrounds to enjoy the highest international theme park standards of quality, fun and entertainment.” (Paradise Country)
On the other hand, Sea world also aims to accentuate the significance of the conservation and maintenance of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife; and does so through the streams of education and pursuing action of rescue and rehabilitation (Sea World). The organization clearly explicates that “conservation and education will play a large role in all our businesses and we aim to educate visitors…about the value of marine life and environment.” The theme park is thus able to hold “a strong reputation for caring for marine animals, along with an exemplary record of animal care, research and rescue accomplishments.” (Sea World)
With its various functions we are able to derive an understanding that Sea World's vision encompasses a focus on marine life preservation where through their educational and rescue-based facilities they see a future focusing on the wide conservation of these animals. This is seen in the almost doubled life expectancy that dolphins experience when inhabiting the wildlife sanctuary of Sea World Australia (Sea World)
EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS: PESTEL
A tool used in the analysis of Sea World's external environment is ‘PESTLE'. It is used to detect and examine the key drivers for change in a business environment. PESTLE stands for Political Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors. Specific factors that serve as key drivers for potential change for Sea World that will be discussed are Political, Social and Economic. (Professional Academy)
As a major tourist organization in Australia, Sea World (SW) must consider the government's influence. The Greens party constitutes 8.7% of the Australian Senate, according to the 2016 Federal election results (ABC, 2017), and as such its views are important to the way SW and similar organizations are run. One of the Greens party's aims is ‘the abolition of the cruel or inhumane use of animal sport, recreation or entertainment, including the use or display of animals in circus' (The Greens, 2017).
Animal activism both internationally and nationally has affected organizations within the Australian context. The documentary film ‘Blackfish' and organization ‘The Orca Project', although in the US, unraveled into a worldwide campaign attracting attention from various sectors of the globe. The release of the ‘Blackfish' led to a peak in activism and media coverage regarding the ‘captivity' of Orca Whales. It has been noted in the Gold Coast Bulletin that “The international tourist attraction has come under unprecedented criticism for keeping dolphins, seals… since the documentary Blackfish shone a heartbreaking light on captive killer whales … in the US.” (Westthorp, 2015) The “aquaprison” (Elliot, 2015) movement in Australia thus stems from this criticism, posing challenges for SW in relation to the risk of exposure to further legal action.
Tourism 2020 is a national strategy developed by the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade along with other organizations as a response to the challenges faced by the Australian Tourism Industry. (Austrade)
The theme park industry's growth is influenced by the development of the entire tourism industry both in Australia and internationally.
Tourism is potentially one of Australia's key assets in generating revenue, jobs, investments and developing Australian economy and communities. Facilities provided by Australia's location and infrastructure gives it a competitive advantage in the tourism business due to it's safe environment and the affordable airline costs from Asia. This has a direct influence on Sea World and surrounding organizations, and depending on their strategy, each organization can either benefit from or misuse this opportunity as a key driver for change. The article, ‘Tourism injects almost $48 billion into national and Gold Coast, says Australian Bureau of Statistics', featured in the Gold Coast Bulletin further supports this (Keen, 2016). This factor has been used to the advantage of the theme-park industry in the Gold Coast whereby convenient ‘package deals' are made by external agencies such as ‘Experience Oz' to attract tourists to engage in more theme parks and activities. These include deals combining all theme parks, collectively benefitting the industry.
Society has become more aware of the environmental requirements and the need for influential factors (organizations) to utilize their power for the betterment of the general public. According to a survey, as established by publisher Michelle Hammond in the article: “One in three Australians willing to pay more for socially responsible companies: Survey”, Almost one in three Australians are willing to spend extra money for services provided by companies that contribute to the community. This illustrates societal values, and their subsequent effects on surrounding organisations such as Sea World. Village Roadshow Limited has reacted to such drivers for change through establishing their “aims to ensure that it is operating its businesses within a responsible environmental and social framework whilst continuing to maximise long term shareholder value” (Village Roadshow Limited). This idea of social responsibility is further explicated through Sea World's not-for-profit initiative “The Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation”. Social views and values are thus demonstrated as essential consideration factors for Sea World in terms of continuous amendment of corporation values and initiatives. (Sea World)
Environmental analysis is critical so as to ensure that an entity assesses internal and external factors that affect its function. The analytical tool SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is an instrument that provides a platform to examine aspects of the environment that may affect the performance or ability of a business. (Wright & Pickton, 1998)
• Market: there are three other theme parks situated in the same location-base as Sea World, thus widening the potential customer base
• Location: other than the market cluster mentioned above which provides a level of convenience for consumers to attend more than one theme park when on holiday. Further, its proximity to Asia for example influences and increases tourism, supported by the benefit of pleasant weather come holiday season.
• Strong brand (icon): sea world's icon within itself plays an influential role in the theme parks growth and popularity. It serves as a continual marketing strategy, whereby the brand is imprinted on all Sea World products, not only raising profits but raising awareness of animal conservation and of their company.
• High barrier for entries: The entertainment industry, and specifically the tourism sector is generally a difficult area to enter into and become competitive.
• Seasonality: Sea world as a theme park is heavily reliant upon the seasonal perceptions of consumers for its revenue.
• Pricing: Entry fees are quite high for both adults and children, limiting the customer base to those that can afford the luxury. This may also deter consumers from visiting the theme park more than once for example, considering there are additional costs once entered into the park itself.
• Location: its location may also be a weakness in the fact that the gold coast does not have an international airport, casing limitation in relation to foreign consumers
• Expansion: Sea World's strong financial position enables the potential for expansion in the market, causing further profit/revenue and areas for growth/focus on their goal of conservation
• New markets: with their focus on environmental and animal preservation, Sea world can utilize its strong icon to emerge new markets that are innovative, sustainable and potentially global
Partnering: there lies various opportunities to create partnerships between corporations for mutual economic and social benefit, especially where Sea World would be viewed as an influential and desirable company to merge forces with. Partnering can take place at any level of the business' functions: for example, research- and can allow for depth of growth and innovation in the area of rescue and rehabilitation of animals at risk.
• Political Activism: animal activists surrounding the controversy of Sea World's animals and marine life and the assumption that these animals have been ‘imprisoned' for the use of human entertainment poses major threats to the future and economic position of the theme-park
• Social views on SW's initiatives may lead to the establishment of government policy or legislation that bans the captivity of certain marine life, which poses a threat to one of the goals and visions of the theme-park to assist in rescuing and rehabilitating these animals.
As a community, ‘moving forward' entails viewing ‘benefit' and ‘profit' through a multidimensional and multi-scope lens that looks far back into the past and forward into the future to reconcile the two and make appropriate judgments for the issues presented to us today. One way in which we can achieve such growth is through ‘Creating Shared Value' initiatives, by “reconceiving the intersection between society and corporate performance” which involves “creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by
addressing its needs and challenges” (Porter & Mark, 2011).
One of Sea World's major obstacles is the setor in which society criticize the theme park for ‘wrongful captivation and usage' of marine life. Thus, in order to reconcile the values of all portions of society and the values of the corporation, a CSV initiative must be exercised.
Instead of rescuing animals/marine life, and subsequently (whilst also protecting them) utilizing them for entertainment purposes, resulting in economic benefit, leading to the misconceptions of these animals being “held captive”, SW can introduce an alternate initiative. Sea World can instead host informative sessions of the current issues associated with marine life. Subsequently, the initiative can be whereby SW hosts activities that resemble auctions in a way where guests place their “bid”; this bid being an idea or scenario of methods that can benefit the future of these animals and other animals facing any threat in our community. The benefit this provides Sea World is that society is undoubtedly affiliated with creative minds; they need not be ‘experts' or ‘professionals'. On the contrary, minds from various industries may have the potential to create more innovative solutions to achieving animal and environmental conservation. These can also be run by competitions, with a potential ‘problem topic' to solve being the creating of more sound homes and environments for marine life in danger. Those who “win” or come up with the best idea will be rewarded, but this reward is not monetary! Instead, it is the satisfaction of moving a step closer to solving one of the largest issues we face as a community today with the danger that is posed against our marine life and fauna. Additionally, the winner will have the privilege of working with Sea World personally to plan, implement and exercise their idea. If there are multiple competitors with notions that are a potential success then a team may be nominated as the ‘winners' to work on their project with SW collaboratively and move a step forward into the future success of the community and of Sea World to achieve wide spread conservation. If successful, these initiatives can be applied to various parts of different communities. Not only will this initiative attract a large portion of the society that currently has suspicions towards the running and authenticity of the theme-park, subsequently creating a higher consumer rate, but society is also benefitted at the success of these operations and by participating in such events by actively engaging in the assistance and growth of the betterment of our community and environment.
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