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Stakeholders of sustainable tourism: harmony or conflict?

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Disciplines
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography

Abstract

Tourism and sustainability are two terms that over the latter half of the 20th century have become increasingly juxtaposed. Nevertheless, as contentious debates continue to swirl around the notion of sustainable tourism, contemporary academia is beginning to acknowledge the indispensable need to move beyond the theoretical debate and towards a consideration of practical implementation. In recognition, this research demonstrates the importance of stakeholder perception in the facilitation of sustainable tourism development, utilising the coastal town of Newquay, Cornwall, South West England as a case study. Primary research explores not only stakeholder understanding and interpretation of the term sustainable tourism development, but additionally the perceived benefits and barriers of implementation. Furthermore, issues and implications of sustainability are discussed in light of the sociological, economical and environmental context of Newquay. Subsequently, a content analysis of the local newspaper, Newquay Voice, is undertaken to investigate the extent to which issues of sustainability, as raised by stakeholders, are representative of the wider local opinion. It is revealed that stakeholders are, to an extent, in conflict, as understanding and interpretation of the term sustainable tourism development is found to be personal and contextual. Yet, simultaneously, stakeholders achieve harmony, as they agree on the professed benefits and barriers. Concurrently, it becomes evident that Newquay is currently operating in an unsustainable manner, which is primarily due to a change in tourist typology, seasonality and the increasing number of visitors that arrive by air. This study concludes that we must question whether, in midst of such discrepancy, the subjective notion of sustainable tourism can be successfully implemented. Moreover, it is essential to consider how far sustainability is the route to development.

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