Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

Collaborative Destination Management Planning: A Case Study of Byron Bay, Australia

Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

Collaborative Destination Management Planning: A Case Study of Byron Bay, Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Tourism planning without a comprehensive consultation process is likely to reduce the effectiveness of the process. However, a comprehensive consultation process may not necessarily ensure effective outcomes if substantial differences exist between stakeholders. This paper presents a case study of the tourism planning process undertaken for the Byron Shire, Australia. Despite an intensive and innovative consultation process the plan failed to gain acceptance from all stakeholders. Although there was a high degree of consistency in terms of community values and aspirations amongst stakeholders there were substantial differences amongst some stakeholders on how to operationalise them. The analysis indicated that a 'dangerous' stakeholder (as defined within stakeholder typology) had a significant impact on the process.

Keywords: Community-based tourism destination management planning.

Introduction

Although tourism has the potential to provide destinations with a number of benefits, the sector can also have substantial negative social, environmental and economic outcomes for the local community if it isn't managed effectively (Cohen, 1978; Doxey, 1975; Gunn & Var, 2002; Nepal, 2001; Ruhanen, 2009; Ryan & Martin, 2001). Effective tourism destination planning is an inherently complex and multi-dimensional process that can be difficult to implement (Parker, 1999). Despite the complexity of the planning process one feature acknowledged for successful destination management planning is a high level of community engagement (see Robinson, 1999; Tosun & Timothy, 2003).

Community engagement is required because destinations need to ensure the local community supports the industry (Murphy & Murphy, 2004). The negative impacts from tourism are usually felt most by the local community and if the community rejects tourism this will have considerable impacts on the local industry since a substantial component of visitor satisfaction will depend on the quality of their engagement with locals (Leiper, 2004). Local community support is likely to increase with greater engagement and consultation (see Murphy, 1985) regarding the development and planning of the industry. However, community engagement may not necessarily achieve a 'consensus' about what constitutes a sustainable local industry.

This paper provides an overview of the stakeholder and community consultation process undertaken in developing a tourism management plan for the Byron Shire, in Northern New South Wales, Australia. Byron Bay, located in the Byron Shire, is an internationally recognised tourism destination that has suffered from unplanned growth during the 1990s and early-2000s. As a consequence a number of local residents have adopted a very negative view toward the local tourism industry. In 2007, the local council decided that it would invest in the development of a tourism plan that incorporated comprehensive community engagement. An examination and evaluation of this process is instructive since it appears that a thorough consultation process can still result in a pluralistic view toward tourism in a community. In addition, in order to demystify the planning process and reduce its complexity, it is important to learn from the experiences of other destinations.

The paper is structured in the following way. Firstly an exploration of the literature around community and stakeholder consultation in tourism planning is presented. Stakeholder involvement in community consultation is then discussed followed by some insights of various authors on the challenges to community-based tourism destination management planning. The next sections outline the methods used in the study, and background on the Byron Shire, including the development of its tourism industry. This is followed by observations of the consultation process and its outcomes, and a discussion of the implications. The paper then concludes with a brief review of the most salient findings from the process. …

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