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World maps delineate national boundaries, but those lines bely the increasingly transparent nature of the global economy. Globalization is typified by the rapid movement of people, information and capital across national borders worldwide in ways that would have been difficult to envision not too many years ago. Yet "globalization," accepted though it is as a contemporary force, is a big concept requiring careful definition.

In many countries, where tourism has become a major export industry, the hospitality sector is the focal point for concepts of globalization to take root. Indeed, tourism has become the world's largest export industry, involving as it does enormous cross-border flows of people and capital. The hospitality industry is one of the world's largest employers and arguably one of the largest traders of foreign currency. It is often also a focal point for local society, and clearly at the heart of the transfer of ideas and the cross fertilization of cultures. At its heart, the hospitality industry plays an important part physically in bringing people together in a global community. And those countries suffering from trade imbalances due to high imports frequently look to tourism and hospitality to close the gap. Hospitality is thus not only an industry, it is a concept and a major force in the fast evolving global marketplace.

The hospitality industry is thus at the very core of the globalization of international business. Hospitality companies therefore need to consider the implications of the global context in which they operate and must be prepared to address the questions that arise from this changing environment. What tangible trends driven by an inter-linked global marketplace will shape the hospitality industry of the future? What does globalization mean for the internationally oriented hospitality company, as well as hotel operations that compete locally and regionally with these organizations?

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