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Tourism as Rationale and the Resident-Tourism Relationship as Democratic Practice: The Politics of Tourism in the city of Fremantle, Western Australia

Veitch, Sarah (2012) Tourism as Rationale and the Resident-Tourism Relationship as Democratic Practice: The Politics of Tourism in the city of Fremantle, Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This dissertation weaves together the three interrelated themes of the politics of tourism, democratic practice, and tourism-based rationale in order to enhance understanding of the resident-tourism relationship in a Western city context. The dissertation sits within the broad theme of the politics of tourism and the political nature of tourism policy, planning, development and management at the local level. The focus within this is an analysis of the resident-tourism relationship as democratic practice. The dissertation applies a theoretical framework in which democratic theory is central and is extended to sustainability and networks theory.

Tourism as rationale, or tourism-based rationale, is defined as an explanation or justification that is based upon content directly relating to or referring to tourism and where the intention is to influence processes of decision-making. Succinctly, tourism-based rationale is rationale that intends to influence through reference to tourism. Tourism-based rational is at once a particular aspect of the politics of tourism, and a part of democratic practice. Running adjacent to these themes are implications for the concept of community-based tourism.

The broad political theme of the politics of tourism and the specific theme of democratic practice are linked in three key ways in the conceptual framework that informs the methodology. First, residents are conceived as politically and collectively active in development debate in the city. Second, the focus of the resident-tourism relationship is consequently on the planning and development issues that residents are concerned and involved with and, specifically, the use of tourism as rationale within these. Thirdly, stakeholders, including residents, participate in development debate democratically through the application of various rationales – as argument, justification and reasoning. Rationale is at once a part of democratic practice through engagement with reason, and, when shared, is an act of political participation. Similarly, stakeholders engage with the phenomenon of tourism in contemporary development debate in the city through the use of tourism as rationale, or tourism-based rationale. Succinctly, this is direct reference to tourism as part of rationale intended to influence or justify decision-making or development outcomes. Tourism-based rationale is, therefore, the political and democratic engagement with tourism in the broader context of city policy, planning, development and management, and is the third theme of the dissertation.

This dissertation is situated within a qualitative and constructivist paradigm, and employs a critical ethnographic methodology to investigate the resident-tourism relationship in the city of Fremantle. The study used a variety of methods, including interviews and participant observation, with a major focus on content analysis and discourse analysis of a broad range of informal and formal documentary sources concerning development debate and contestation. A series of case studies is divided into two foci: first, tourism policy, planning, development and management, and second, waterfront development and tourism.

The dissertation proposes three key outcomes within the context of Western urban tourism. First, the traditional model of ‘impacts of tourism on residents’ is rejected as too narrowly prescriptive to be the foundation of the resident-tourism relationship. Rather, a more proactive and dynamic framework is proposed, in which the resident-tourism relationship is redefined from hosts to public sphere participation in a networked policy and planning environment. Second, and in contrast to the democratic participation of public spheres, formal democratic participation and practice is subsumed by liberal capitalist democracy. As such, governance is conducted by the state and business, resulting in formal public consultation practices that exclude public spheres. Finally, tourism-based rationale is the most prominent and significant impact of tourism. In particular, the use of tourism-based rationale reveals both the content and context of tourism. The content is how tourism itself is conceived, and the context is where tourism is politically situated in broader city policy and planning.

Furthermore, discourse analysis of tourism-based rationale, together with analysis of democratic practice, reveals that contestation concerning tourism and its relationship to broader city policy, planning and development is fundamentally a contestation of values, namely social and environmental values contrasted with economic, profit-making values. These findings necessarily have implications for tourism policy and planning and its integration with city policy and planning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Macbeth, Jim
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