Tourism destination development - beyond Butler

Breakey, Noreen Maree (2006). Tourism destination development - beyond Butler PhD Thesis, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland.

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Author Breakey, Noreen Maree
Thesis Title Tourism destination development - beyond Butler
School, Centre or Institute School of Natural and Rural Systems Management
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor Robert Beeton
Total pages 389
Language eng
Subjects 1506 Tourism
150604 Tourism Marketing
Formatted abstract
My thesis is that the nature of a tourism destination is not predestined as proposed by destination life-cycle models. Instead tourism destination development is continually determined by the internal conditions and inter-relations within the tourism destination system, and the combination of external impacts acting on the destination.

The most popularly applied theory employed to explain tourism growth within a destination is the life-cycle concept (Butler, 1980). Although the life-cycle model does offer a general and adjustable means for describing past destination change, it does not consider tourism as a complex and dynamic system. This work illustrates that alternate theories also offer important concepts for understanding change within a tourism destination, including Evolutionary Theory, Punctuated Equilibrium, and Chaos Theory. 

While none of these four theories completely explains how and why change occurs within a tourism destination system, each offers concepts that can be incorporated into the proposed model that outlines the possible change options and their magnitude, the Multi-Trajectory Model of Tourism Destination Change. This model proposes that the growth pattern of a destination variable may at times be in a state of complete ‘equilibrium’, undergoing gradual positive or negative ‘evolutionary’ change, or within a ‘chaos’ induced ‘punctuation’ causing an immediate, and substantial increase or decrease in growth. The underlying premise of this proposed model is that change can occur at any time, and can be in any direction. Therefore tourism is a system that includes most expressions of change theory in a temporally complex way.
The proposed model raises three Research Issues. The first was that, although tourism change can be analysed at various levels, area aggregation results in data smoothing. Secondly, tourism destination change cannot be explained by total yearly visitor numbers alone. Finally, there is no predetermined pattern of tourism destination development. This provides a new approach to examining change at a destination. 

In order to test the model, a tourism destination system was chosen as a case study. This multi-level system incorporates the tourism destinations of the three local areas of Noosa, Maroochy, and Caloundra, the Sunshine Coast region they comprise, the State of Queensland, and the Nation of Australia. This case system provided the opportunity to compare the same data variable at the different levels, determining whether or not the local area followed the patterns of change evident at the regional, State, and/or National levels. The use of the three local areas also allowed for comparison, considering whether tourism developed in similar ways and at similar times across the local areas, and whether external influences had similar impacts on the local level destinations or whether the responses differed. Additionally, the inclusion of the higher aggregate levels provided information on the environment in which with a lower level destination operates and develops.

The qualitative investigation into the history of the development of tourism within this multi-layer system identified reasons why tourism has developed and changed in the case study area. While providing a context for the time-series data analysis, this historical examination also showed just how many factors affect tourism development, thereby reinforcing the need for a model that incorporates this complexity.

The focus of the time-series data analysis was on the patterns of change evident in data variables, considering the trajectories and change points within each pattern. An important aspect of this approach to understanding tourism destination change was the inclusion of multiple data variables, both tourism specific, and general growth indicators. Analysis of possible relationships between the variables added greater depth to the study. Testing such a model required the collection of a significant body of time-series data, its analysis, and presentation.

Investigation of the first research issue revealed that under the smooth aggregate patterns of the higher level data variables there exists an interesting array of complex patterns. This analysis provided a more detailed picture of the change in both individual variables at the different geographical levels, as well as sub-categories within a variable, such as visitor numbers. This study illustrates the need to consider the underlying variables to ensure greater understanding of the complex change within a destination. Also important was the inquiry into the remaining research issues. This showed that there is no single pattern which represents the destination’s change. Various patterns exist, such as for visitor spending, occupancy levels, and the supply of accommodation. This challenges the notion that a destination will simply follow the life-cycle pattern. As the Multi-Trajectory Model of Tourism Destination Change embraces this variation, complexity, and dynamism, the model explains the differing change trajectories of tourism destination development identified in the various geographical levels of the case study data. 

The general aim of this study was to further understanding of how and why tourism destinations develop. In the future this knowledge will benefit tourism businesses, associations, managers, and planners. Ultimately, tourism destination planners need to accept that destination growth is not a simple and predictable process. The Multi-Trajectory Model of Tourism Destination Change can be applied to understand the change at a destination. Such understanding can then be used to develop a framework for the planning of strategic intervention, which therefore allows for management of change. This could assist in redirecting tourism development to ensure it is economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable through the facilitation of an environment conducive to positive change.
Keyword Tourism -- Queensland -- Sunshine Coast
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

Document type: Thesis
Collections: Queensland Past Online (QPO)
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:44:32 EST