The Southern Regional Organisation of Councils: Event Policy 1974-2004

By Whitford, Michelle | Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, August 2005 | Go to article overview
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The Southern Regional Organisation of Councils: Event Policy 1974-2004


Whitford, Michelle, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management


Governments, as key stakeholders in the development of events, produce policies in an attempt to facilitate the growth and potential of events as a platform for industry and economic development. To date, however, there has been a paucity of research undertaken to determine the appropriateness and the consequences of government policies in relation to events. This article, then, presents an interpretative analysis of event policy developed from 1974-2004 by five local governments in south-east Queensland who are members of the Southern Regional Organisation of Councils [SOUTHROC]. An interpretative research design was developed for the study that sought to identify the types of development paradigms that underpin event policies. A critical analysis of 68 SOUTHROC policies revealed that SOUTHROC members have consistently developed event policies that were predominantly underpinned by alternative development paradigms with a strong sociecultural focus. Arguably, increased awareness and use of a combination of development paradigms will assist local governments in producing future event policy. Moreover, such event policy would have the capacity to promote event industry growth and, concomitantly, appropriate development within their region.

Since Federation, regional development issues have been placed, with varying degrees of importance, on the agendas of federal, state and local governments in Australia. As the three levels of Australian government strive to discover effective means to facilitate regional development, there is an emerging realisation that events can be used as a suitable vehicle for such development. Consequently, all three levels of government are producing public policies that focus on the development of events in an attempt to facilitate their potential as a platform for industry and economic development (Burgan & Mules, 2000). Consequently, there have been a growing number of events taking place in both rural and urban communities (Higham & Ritchie, 2001) throughout Australia in recent years.

Arguably though, the growth and development of local communities and concurrently the number of events staged within these communities have, to date, been largely dependent on the policies and/or initiatives of local government (Aulich, 1999; Hall & Jenkins, 1995; Hall, Jenkins, & Kearsley, 1997). The purpose of this study then, was to undertake, from a development theory perspective, a critical analysis of public policies related to events produced from 1974 to 2004 by the five member councils of the South Regional Organisation of Councils [SOUTHROC]. In order to achieve this objective, this article will first set the contextual background with discussion about: (1) the concept of a region; (2) Queensland Government's regional development and event policy; and (3) SOUTHROC and the significance of events. Thereafter, the article will provide an overview of the methodology employed for the analysis of SOUTHROC event policy, and finally present and discuss the results of this policy analysis.

Concept of a Region

A region may be a geographical part of the earth's surface or it may be a space occupied by people sharing religious, cultural and or historical perspectives (Tosun & Jenkins, 1996). As Harris (1978, pp. 136-137) explained, in Australia, regions have 'tended to consist of groupings of existing local government areas, although regional boundaries have not always coincided exactly with local government boundaries'. Yet the analysis of regional development policy is bedevilled by a lack of clarity in the concepts that are used, including the term 'region' (Keating, 1996; Loughlin, 1996). Indeed, Keating and Loughlin (1996, p. 17) maintained that region defied descriptive definition as it 'takes different forms in different places and refers to a variety of spatial levels'. Similarly, Malecki (1997) believed that often regions are not static but evolve as conditions warrant, while Blair (1995) likened the term to a chameleon, taking its meaning from the context of use.

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