Tourism, recognized as one of the most economically significant industries in the world has recently perceived emerging needs for forming sustainable planning for tourism management and development. According to Murphy (1985) and Perez – Salom (2001) in order to achieving desired sustainability certain alternations via better planning and management in the tourism activity patterns and pertaining products are necessary to decrease the environmental and social impacts. Thus researchers have emphasized the significance of stakeholder collaboration and participation in the decision making process and their involvement in each stage of tourism management to achieve long lasting sustainability (Teo 2002, Garrod 2003, Azman 1999).
According to Branwell and Lane (2000) the dynamic, diffuse and fragmented manner of tourism development was identified long time ago. However the diversified ways to solve problems associated with fragmentation was not achieved despite such identification (Hall 2003). Some of the challenges faced in implementing these strategies lie in the conflicting public policies enacted by respective governments which are engaged in tourism planning, management and development. Many tourism related public policies are ensnared in an energetic continuation processes with governments struggling to perceive the multitude of implications in tourism and their arbitration ways (Caffyn & Jobbins 2003).
As declared by Scheyvens in 2003 to achieve voluntary participation in desired levels for the planning processes one important precursor should be the empowerment of stakeholders in the community by involving them in the tourism development process. In the absence of empowerment in community and local levels, predictably national endeavors to develop specific identified destinations will not meet with successful results says Sofield (2003). According to Burns in 2004 it has also been established that a top to down attitude in strategic tourism planning will not stimulate or encourage stake holder participation and local commitment. Additionally according to Timothy (2000) the individual and state relationship has conventionally presented key level policy predicaments as many interest groups continue to seek government backing and funding in tourism development process. Therefore in this study major focus will be in determining the effectiveness of the statement made by Henkel & Stirrat (2001:168) to the effect of:
“It is now difficult to find a development project that does not…claim to adopt a ‘participatory’ approach involving ‘bottom-up’ planning, acknowledging the importance of ‘indigenous’ knowledge and claiming to ‘empower’ local people”
- Challenges of local participation in tourism planning
In 2000 Hall advocated and emphasized the need in utilizing and developing a network thinking to critically analyze the involvement of public sector partnership and collaboration in tourism to develop sustainability and social capital. However, despite the many attractions of establishing a local community approach in tourism planning there are many challenges existing in the way such a process would be implemented and operated (Murphy 1988). These challenges include the manner in which to foster local participation for tourism planning and management, initiating and maintaining cooperation between public and private sectors and identifying implementation ways for local participation in tourism planning. Therefore it is vital to enhance the assimilation of management approaches in tourism planning.
- Effective tourism planning for a sustainable development
According to Hall (2003), tourism is an important concern for industry and governments as well as communities in terms of augmenting number of travelers, enhancing revenues and impacts for the communities in the tourist destinations. Tourism has the ability of impacting on both micro and macro environments and thus has been recognized as a paradoxical practice situation when adverse reactions occur where tourism can destroy tourism (Mihalic 2003). When ever tourism is not planned or managed efficiently it contains the capacity to destroy its own platform on which the tourism is based.
In 1997, McVetty identified different tourism planning traditions and approaches which are commonly referred to day as following:
- Booster approach – concentrates on motivating and enhancing the tourist frequency.
- Commercial approach – concentrates on profit maximization
- Economic approach – focus on the resulting economic values generated via tourism related employment.
- Environmental approach – focus on the ecological conservation for tourist destinations
- Community based approach – concentrates on minimum impact and encouragement of involvement and control by local participation in tourism
- Integrated approach – the social development factor in tourism which takes in to account social mobilization and local participation to maximize tourism contribution towards local communities.
In an integrated tourism planning approach it will take in to account a process that endeavor to bring together each individual stakeholder with their variety of experiences and attitudes. Within such a planning process, there is an opportunity for stakeholders to cooperate in arriving at temporary agreements in matters of environmental conservation, biodiversity and social welfare (Burns 2004).
It has been established that this approach will be particularly beneficial for developing countries as it provides an alternative tourism approach with a people centered attitude. A variety of tourism management models were developed in the past with the rapid growth in recreation and tourism in natural destinations ( Hall 2003, Gunn & Turgut 2002). However according to McArthur (2000) the TOMM, Tourism Optimization and Management Model developed in Australia is the most successful tool introduced so far as other models failed to establish adequate stakeholder support for implementing and operating plans on a sustainable period to confirm their merits. The problem with these models was their inability to adjust to the diverse stakeholder participants and the absence of cooperative partnership for identifying standards and indicators.
- Empowerment of local participants for effective tourism planning
In 1997 France defined empowerment as a process in which households, local groups, individuals, communities, nations and regions all shape their lives along with the type of society in which they habitat. According to Boog in 2003 the recent past has used this term as a sense of group and collective empowerment. Empowerment contain diverse concepts such as facilitating relationships between individuals, contribution of power between social cultural, political domains says O'Neal & O'Neal (2003). For tourism planning the terms empowerment is regarded as a social development process encouraging and facilitating a respondent to responsive tourism attitude (Ritchie 1993). According to Sofield a vital component embedded in the process of empowerment is the application of decisions making model. Empowerment of local participants in the tourism industry represents multidimensional characteristics according to Scheyvens in 2002 who detailed them as following:
- Economic empowerment with lasting financial awards for the local participants
- Physiological empowerment for improving self esteem, pride within the local culture for their knowledge and respective resources.
- Social empowerment where a community’s integrity is enhanced and sustained via the tourism development process
- Political empowerment is a platform of democracy where people from all walks of life are invited in the participatory process and allowed to voice opinions and concerns.
In 1993 Jenkins argued that local participants would express difficulties in perceiving the complicated aspects related to planning and managing representativeness in the tourism development process. He further stated that the decision making process which would need considerable time and cost may result in a lack of interest within the local communities. Therefore in order to overcome this situation and encourage local community participation in tourism management the issue of collaboration is regarded as a suitable management strategy to encourage participation.
- Collaboration management between stakeholders and community
As declared by Bramwell & Lane in 2000, it is widely acknowledge the importance in involving the many stakeholders in the process of tourism planning and management. The concept has led to the use of many collaborative partnerships and arrangements as a tool or technique with the intention of combining a range of interests to implement and develop pertaining tourism policies. To achieve successfully inclusive tourism development an accomplishment of cooperation within all planning sectors in each scale is an important concept.
A significant advantage of such collaboration management is that relevant tourist destinations and respective organizations have the ability of gaining competitive advantages via a process of combining expertise, knowledge, knowhow, capital and various other resources belonging to the multi stakeholders says Kotler, Haider, & Rein (1993). Such a collaboration attempt within stakeholders can result in effective negotiations, dialogues and formulation of a community acceptable proposal in which sustainable tourism can be developed. According to Murphy (1988) the broadly based tourism policies resulting from such management policy integrations can create democratic empowerment, operational advantages, impartiality and finally a greatly enhanced tourism product to the world.
Therefore it is vital to regard the entire planning process from a social phenomenon perspective where empowerment of local participants in the decision making process is given high priority. Moreover, collaboration and participation should be considered as important components of social capital that can be enriched via community complexity.
- Recent Examples of stakeholder participation in tourism
In the past clear evidence were seen of a range of individuals and organizations operating on innovative local participation led approaches in tourism management and development. Some of these examples are the Indonesian Andaman Discoveries, the North Andaman Tsunami relief flagship project which has initiated more than 120 projects in identified Tsunami affected communities. This flagship project was instrumental for aiding a large number of local communities to develop a local participatory tourism process successfully and as a result have also developed many supporting resources such as local crafts, traditional music promotions etc.
The community tourism project initiated in Scotland Inverclyde tourism group has secured their funding through many resources including the national lottery. The project has achieved tremendous success through a capacity building process as a result of community involvement and partnership working.
There are also visible examples to indicate the drawbacks of this concept. As declared by Manyara et al (2006) there are many obstacles in the process of developing indigenous SMTE, small and medium tourism enterprises due to constraints such as accessibility to global markets, deficiency in numeracy and literacy, access to capital and other resources, sector specific skills and insufficient government backing. Their report which concentrated in the local community participation of Kenya tourism also states that through proper legislative frameworks and policies a community based enterprise stand to benefit with better development potential and also benefit the SMTE in the longer term. Solutions cited in this report to make the Kenya tourism project successful was to integrate the requirements of allowing initiatives to be community owned, make communities fully involved in the process of tourism development and management and that these local communities should remain as the main beneficiaries of such initiatives.
As declared by Mitchell and Reid in 2000 it could be stated in summary that local participation involvement in tourism management and development can be regarded as a simple categorical term defining ‘citizen power’. Within the stage of planning the research and study of social capital and social sensitivity in relation to tourism can provide great insights to the level of social impact alleviation arising from tourism on a local community through a process of relevant and strategic planning (Hall 2003). An important aspect is to consider is integrative planning to ensure minimal adverse impacts, environmental conservation, acceptance of tourism in general and overall community growth (Burns 2004). Equally it is important to consider planning with least amount of conflicts and to foster participation of local communities via controlling resources and tourism planning related decision making.
The streamlining of a local community as a tourism product will aid the diversification of tourism offerings and also facilitate a meaningful economic participation in the tourism sector by the local communities. It will also generate many tourism related benefits that exceeds the primary tourism areas within a country.
The research study concludes that while there is much written on this subject mainly at a conceptual level, it is vital that proper frameworks and guidelines are established for those communities searching for optimum practices and perceiving the associated benefits of tourism within the community body. It is also evident that establishing a strictly rigid guideline set will not do much to advance a sustainable tourism within the local community agenda.
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