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An environmentally based approach to tourism planning

Dowling, Ross Kingston (1993) An environmentally based approach to tourism planning. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis examines the evolving relationship between the environment and tourism and argues for a new environmentally based regional tourism planning approach. In environmental planning the major aim is to foster environmental protection and conservation, whereas the goals of tourism planning are to engender tourism promotion and area development. This study seeks to determine whether or not the two approaches can be combined to institute both environmental conservation and tourism development, that is to bring about sustainable tourism development. It is argued that the two can be integrated through a traditional tourism planning approach underpinned by environmental planning methods. The research then proposes a new environmentally based tourism planning model which is tested in Western Australia.

The evolution of the environment - tourism relationship is traced over the last four decades. The advent of mass tourism since World War 11 is related to growing global environmental awareness. Two aspects of the environment - tourism relationship are identified and described. The first is that the environment and tourism have symbiotic and even synergistic possibilities in which the relationship is mutually beneficial. The second is that they are in conflict and that tourism is destroying its very foundations. The conclusion is drawn that elements of both symbiosis and conflict are ever present in the environment - tourism relationship. Therefore, it is suggested that the symbiotic or ideal view be tempered by the realistic acceptance of tourism and the environment's potential and actual conflicts. This in itself leads to an integrative approach which minimizes adverse impacts and enhances positive outcomes through integrated planning and management.

Having established the integrative link between tourism and the environment, tourism and area development planning models are then briefly reviewed as well as those applicable to environmental conservation and protection planning. Parallels are drawn between the two planning approaches especially in relation to social and spatial components. It is then argued that the future of environment - tourism planning is based on environmental conservation, the incorporation of community and tourist views and the recognition of functional differentiation. It is asserted that the planning of natural areas for tourism should begin from an environmental base and work forwards towards the identification of tourism opportunities; include the views of community groups and tourists, especially in regard to the environment - tourism relationship; and conclude with a plan which embraces the spatial features of both environmental and tourism nodes, corridors and hinterlands.

A new regional sustainable development framework called Environmentally Based Tourism (EBT) Planning Model is described. It is grounded in environmental conservation and seeks to advance environmentally compatible tourism through the identification of significant features, critical areas and compatible activities. Although incorporating aspects of the rational approach to planning, the role of people as part of the ecosystem is emphasized, and part of the process. Zoning is used to maintain environmental and tourism values and includes the following zones: sanctuary, nature conservation, outdoor recreation and tourism destination.

This thesis is explored on two levels; by the generation of the environmentally based tourism planning model and then through its application to a regional case study in Western Australia (WA). The medal was tested in the Gascoyne Region of WA from 1989-1991. Extant environmental and tourism data were combined with face-to-face surveys of residents and tourists. Following analysis, the central conclusion is that the model is a useful tool in integrating environmental and tourism goals. Limitations of the study include the contextual integration of environmental and social values, the lack of comprehensive environmental data, and the attempt to bring together disparate planning approaches. However, overall the model helps bridge the rational values orientated planning gap and assists in the identification of environment - tourism planning parameters. Finally, further research opportunities are identified especially in relation to the selection of appropriate data.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Supervisor(s): Bailey, John
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