University of Tasmania
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Exploring local government approaches to sustainable practice : an investigation into tourism's development in Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:43 authored by May, BM
This thesis has addressed a gap in the literature regarding perceptions among local government in the Australian State of Tasmania towards tourism and its integration with sustainable practise. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO, 2008) has advocated implementing the concept of sustainable tourism at destination levels in mitigation of the negative externalities acknowledged to precipitate socio-cultural and environmental change in local communities where tourism influxes proliferated (Helbling, 2010). But the exclusivity of neo-liberal progrowth tourism policy agendas evident at National and State Government levels may have overlooked a duty of care regarding the effects of tourism influxes and prompted questions in respect of the consequences from increased demand generation and the ensuing commodification of both community and environment (Tribe, 2008; Bramwell and Lane, 2011; Buckley, 2012). Australia has since discontinued membership of the UNWTO and dialogue regarding the integration of sustainability and care of the tourism product has appeared disproportionate to the importance placed on maximising its economic contribution. This study has explored grounds for suggesting that tourism policies in Tasmania, by pursuing short-term agendas to maximise tourism's economic contribution, may have overlooked the associated longer term social and environmental risks were the resource base on which tourism is dependent is rendered unsustainable. Relative to other Australian States the greater importance placed on tourism's contribution to Tasmania's economy when coupled to the high touristic value bestowed on the State's pristine topography (Government of Tasmania, 2013a), has argued strongly for its effective management as a sustainable resource in accord with UNWTO advocacy. The research question asked - to what extent are the UNWTO principles of sustainable tourism evident in the policies and planning practices of Tasmanian local government? A two-phase inductive research design was applied comprising a content analysis of council planning documents and interviews with local government employees. Collectively, these interrogated the local status of tourism in Tasmania and whether stakeholders from within, but also outside the State's tourism industry, acted to progress or resist the integration of sustainable tourism. Rational choice theory was used to explore the differing responses of industry and governments (Burns, 1972; Scott, 2000, Boudon, 2009). The study determined that governmental arrangements regarding tourism's management in Tasmania have acted to blunt its competitive edge, its amenability to the integration of sustainable tourism, and exposed the socio-cultural and environmental integrity of its communities to long-term risk.


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