The causes and potential mitigating strategies of New Zealand residents’ negative perceptions of self-drive tourism, a Theory of constraints (TOC) approach
The purpose of this study is to first, explore the causes of New Zealand residents’ negative perceptions of self-drive tourism, and second, create potential strategies to mitigate such negative perceptions.
To investigate the two main objectives of this study, the Theory of constraints (TOC) methodology is applied. The power of the TOC methodology is its ability to understand a complex phenomenon via presentations of logic trees. In this study, the TOC methodology is applied from the construction of interview guides through to drawing conclusions. Three essential questions namely “Why change?”, “What to change?” and “What to change to?” from the change sequence of the TOC methodology are employed.
The findings of this study are based on the interview data from four main participant groups (Self-drive tourists, government experts, tourism academic, media, 16 participants in total) as well as surveys of residents’ perceptions (Mood of the Nation and Views on Tourism). The results of the first TOC question “Why change?” examined the gap between the “perfect world” and the actual state of the self-drive tourism system, and all participant groups agreed that the current self-drive tourism system is not achieving the “perfect world”.
Building on the results of the first TOC question, “What to change?” sought to discover the root causes and core problems via cause-and-effect logic. The causes of residents’ negative perceptions are represented in three stages, with infrastructure, driving and self-drive tourism issues in stage 1 (fundamental issues); media issues in stage 2 magnify problems in stage 1 and eventually cause perception issues in stage 3. To address the root causes and core problems, potential mitigating strategies were developed by using the TOC methodology, followed by a logic tree to test the robustness of such proposed strategies, responding to the TOC’s “What to change to?” question.
The discussions are mainly consistent with the literature in social psychology, tourism, self-drive tourism, management, and media studies. This study also makes theoretical and practical contributions. At a theoretical level, this thesis bridges TOC methodology and tourism, to showcase how complex tourism problems can be tackled via such methodology. It also offers a holistic view to the causes of residents’ negative perceptions, and mitigating strategies are designed to address the problems holistically, rather than a piecemeal approach dealing with a few symptoms at a time. At a practical level, this study offers stakeholders with logic maps depicting the causes of residents’ negative perceptions as well as offering mitigating strategies.