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The Tapestry Tourism Futures Project: Lessons learned for governance in community tourism planning

Northcote, J., Lee, D., Wegner, A. and Chok, S. (2009) The Tapestry Tourism Futures Project: Lessons learned for governance in community tourism planning. In: CAUTHE 2009 18th International Research Conference, 10 - 13 February, Fremantle, Western Australia pp. 1176-1183.

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This paper focuses on the findings from an evaluation (funded by the STCRC) of the three-year Tapestry Tourism Futures Project (TTFP) in the context of governance models in community tourism planning. The TTFP was a tourism resource management project that was carried out in the South West Region of Western Australia (then called the Tapestry region, but since renamed the Geographe region) from 2000 to 2003, before being handed over to the regional community for selfmanagement. At the heart of the project was the ‘tourism futures simulator’ (TFS) developed by the CSIRO to aid regional planners in their understanding of potential tourism impacts across a variety of spheres, and first implemented in Port Douglas, North Queensland (Walker et al, 1998). The simulator aimed to encourage a broader systems perspective within the community as it illustrates relational dependencies between sectors that many may not traditionally associate with tourism, for example health and security services. The key aims of the TTFP were:

1. To explore and educate the tourism community about the notion of a ‘systems’ approach to sustainable tourism;
2. To develop a timely, reliable and useful data set unique to regional requirements (namely, up-to-date visitor data); and
3. To make available a locally specific computer simulation model that could provide trend information for planners and policy makers in response to ‘what-if’ scenarios.

Empowering the community through capacity-building and meaningful involvement in the project was also an important objective. The project relied on a top-down knowledge-based injection into a bottom-up request for input. In other words, the community presented the questions and a group of experts provided the tools for finding the answers. A series of workshops were held with regional representatives that mapped the relationships between the various components of the ‘tourism’ system. This knowledge formed the basis of the TFS. Visitor surveys undertaken by tourism providers produced the raw data that was fed into the simulator, and once analysed was provided back to the providers in the form of tourism reports.

In April 2003 management of those tools passed from the experts to the region, with the team of national experts replaced by a university team located at ECU Bunbury, and the State and national funding bodies replaced by the six local governments in the region, who committed to the project for a further three years. However, in 2006 the project was discontinued (not long after the evaluation was completed) after the regional Shires that were funding the program felt that it was no longer in their interests to continue. This paper will focus on the community placement phase, and the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation in the context of sustainable community development – an explicit objective of the TTFP. It situates the evaluation findings in the overall context of sustainable tourism planning, particularly concerning collaboration in community tourism planning and suitable governance structures. Given the ongoing interest in community-based approaches such as those employed in the TTFP (for example, their potential application in the Ningaloo Cluster project, in which the TTFP architects have been involved in planning), the findings of the evaluation are felt to be relevant and timely.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Curtin University of Technology
Conference Website:
Notes: In: Carlsen, Jack, Hughes, Michael, Holmes, Kirsten, Jones, Roy (Eds). CAUTHE 2009: See Change: Tourism & Hospitality in a Dynamic World. Fremantle, W.A.: Curtin University of Technology, 2009.
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