Corporate geographies of transnational tourism companies
The central aim of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of restructuring processes in the tourism production system and to analyse the implications of socio-spatial practices and strategies of transnational, integrated tourism corporations in light of the ‘new’ economic geography. It is based on the cultural turn in the discipline of geography and thus recognises that cultural and social processes are an integral part of economic systems and contribute to shaping the economic landscape. The thesis specifically investigates the corporate geographies of tourism corporations and their relationship with territorial spaces. Restructuring processes are examined demonstrating that the European tourism production system has experienced significant structural changes during a wave of large- and small-scale mergers and acquisitions resulting in the emergence of tourism corporations with a wide and uneven geographical expansion. An analysis of shareholdings of individual tourism corporations also highlights significant variation in the level of internationalisation and expansion. Socio-economic approaches to the firm form the theoretical foundations for analysing the relationship between tourism corporations and place via the concept of embeddedness within networks of social relations using examples from Mallorca, Spain. A combination of questionnaire survey and semistructured interviews was employed in order to map the structural and qualitative attributes of intra-, inter- and extra-firm networks. Encountered difficulties, however, resulted in a more exploratory approach to the application of theoretical concepts and required added reliance on secondary sources and informal discussion with experts. Historical connection between tour operators and Mallorcan hotel companies has provided a firm basis for close cooperation with mutual benefit and has allowed Mallorcan hotel companies to internationalise in conjunction with the internationalisation of tourist flows. The examination of regulatory networks has revealed a complex and dynamic mosaic of scales at subnational, national and supranational levels, which govern and shape the activities of tourism corporations.