Sustainable tourism planning: An analysis of Queensland local tourism destinations

Ruhanen-Hunter, Lisa M. (2006). Sustainable tourism planning: An analysis of Queensland local tourism destinations PhD Thesis, School of Tourism, University of Queensland.

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Author Ruhanen-Hunter, Lisa M.
Thesis Title Sustainable tourism planning: An analysis of Queensland local tourism destinations
School, Centre or Institute School of Tourism
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor Chris Cooper
Total pages 447
Language eng
Subjects 1506 Tourism
150602 Tourism Forecasting
Formatted abstract
Tourism has had a profound impact upon destinations worldwide, and although this impact has been positive for many destinations, there are numerous examples where tourism has adversely impacted upon the environment and social fabric of the destination community. The negative impacts of tourism have being attributed, among other things, to inadequate or non-existent planning frameworks for tourism development. As such, tourism planning is considered vital to offset some of the negative impacts that tourism can have on the destination community. While several different approaches have been advocated over the years, tourism planning based on the philosophies of sustainability has emerged as one of the most comprehensive approaches. Two concepts are acknowledged as contributing to sustainable tourism development: enhanced levels of multiple stakeholder participation in the tourism planning process and a strategic orientation towards tourism planning (Simpson, 2001).

Therefore the purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which sustainable development principles, strategic planning and stakeholder participation, are integrated into the planning practices of local tourism destinations. The concept of sustainable development and its application to the tourism sector has received considerable attention within academia and has become a focus of the policy agenda at all levels of government. The wealth of literature on the topic would suggest that tourism destinations have embraced the sustainable approach to tourism planning, however some authors have disagreed, noting that sustainability principles are not put into practice due to the fact that economic motivations are given priority over social and ecological issues (Getz, 1986; Hall, 1998). Further, academics have been criticized for their preoccupation with defining and debating the definitional aspects of sustainable tourism at the expense of considering the practical aspects, particularly the development of tools for implementing the concept in practice (Garrod & Fyall, 1998). As Simpson (2001, p.4) noted,

“Whilst the concepts of stakeholder participation and strategic orientation are widely endorsed as valuable contributors to sustainable development, there have been no previous attempts to gauge the extent to which such considerations play their part in real world tourism planning processes”.

This study sought to examine the transference of sustainable tourism theory to practice by investigating the extent to which the sustainable tourism planning philosophy is utilised in the planning practices of local tourism destinations in Queensland. In order to address this issue, three research objectives were developed and investigated through a two-stage qualitative data collection process. Despite claims that more destinations are adopting sustainable, strategic perspectives towards tourism development (Ritchie & Crouch, 2000); it was found that sustainability is not the underlying approach to local tourism destination planning in Queensland as evidenced by an over emphasis on economic concerns, short-term planning horizons and the exclusion of key stakeholder groups from the process. However some of the reasons for these problems were uncovered in the research where it was found that the sustainability concept and its application to tourism planning practice is not well understood and particular stakeholder groups, namely the local government, have considerable influence over the planning process.

To address these issues a conceptual framework of the strategic visioning approach to tourism planning was developed. The framework is proposed as a possible means for ensuring sustainability philosophies including strategic planning and stakeholder participation are incorporated into the tourism planning process. The applicability of the framework, identified in both the literature and confirmed by stakeholder respondents, was considered in light of the challenges identified in the research of incorporating sustainability principles into a local tourism destination planning process.
Keyword Tourism -- Queensland.
Sustainable development
strategic tourism planning
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:28:38 EST