Stakeholder Perceptions of Tourism Development in Marahau/New Zealand: a Role for Participatory Approaches and GIS
Abstract Tourism research is increasingly focusing on community participation and stakeholder collaboration in tourism planning. It is argued that sustainable development outcomes require the integration of community perspectives into the planning processes, and that the views of different stakeholders must be communicated effectively to interested parties. These core issues are explored in this thesis. I draw upon advances made in participatory research in development studies and introduce these to tourism planning. The thesis also introduces participatory approaches and GIS (PAGIS) as a tool that can be blended into a framework that facilitates a better understanding of stakeholders' perceptions towards tourism, and therefore has the potential to improve community participation and stakeholder interaction in tourism planning. The case study used in this thesis is Marahau, a small community in New Zealand located at the gateway to an icon of New Zealand's tourism industry, the Abel Tasman National Park. The community has undergone rapid transformation from an agriculture-based economy to an expanding tourism destination. The recent increase in visitor numbers, tourism businesses, and permanent residents in the community have resulted in major management and planning issues concerning the future of Marahau. This research highlights the changes that tourism development has brought to the community and presents the various perceptions of stakeholders in this particular setting. The research shows that to plan for more sustainable forms of tourism development the subjective perspectives and the roles of all stakeholders need to be understood and integrated into a responsive planning framework. PAGIS can increase the number and diversity of people able to participate in decision-making. PAGIS integrates 'expert' and 'local' knowledge that can result in more responsive planning procedures to enhance tourism's potential to act as a force for more sustainable development.