Towards and integrated systems approach to sustainable tourism management in protected areas

PhD Thesis


Imran, Sophia. 2013. Towards and integrated systems approach to sustainable tourism management in protected areas . PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Towards and integrated systems approach to sustainable tourism management in protected areas

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorImran, Sophia
SupervisorAlam, Dr Khorshed
Beaumont, Dr Narelle
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages272
Year2013
Abstract

Sustainable tourism has been widely viewed as an effective way of addressing the socio-economic and environmental issues associated with protected areas, particularly alpine protected areas which are popular destinations providing opportunities for adventure tourism with close-to-nature experiences. They also serve as tourist attractions and are a source of livelihoods for local communities. Nevertheless, the impact of tourism is controversial and its sustainability is not always evident both in terms of socio-economic development and nature conservation.

In view of the negative social-ecological consequences and economic implications of tourism there is growing recognition for sustainable approaches to tourism management in protected areas. Tourism has been acknowledged as a tool for conservation and for creating local livelihoods. However, the complex nature of alpine and marginalized protected areas such as Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP), conflicting interests of multiple stakeholder groups and inadequate opportunities for networking have ostensibly inhibited tourism in achieving the social, environmental and economic objectives of sustainability. Therefore, the research viewed the protected area system from the prism of interlinked complexity, stakeholder, sustainability and collaboration theories that integrate the concepts of communities systems (social, economic and environmental) and interdependencies in their theoretical paradigms. Keeping in perspective the complex systems approach, the purpose of this research was to identify key governance factors emerging from the perceptions of multiple stakeholder groups that could influence the development of an integrated systems approach to tourism management in protected areas.

To achieve the purpose of the research four research questions were developed and investigated through a mixed method approach. The results revealed that despite the rhetoric and interest, sustainable tourism was not the underlying approach taken by protected area authorities and other stakeholder groups in the planning and management of tourism in the CKNP. This was evidenced by a centralized and ineffective governance structure, a culture of withholding and concealing information, and exclusion of key stakeholder groups in the decision-making process.

The results of the research revealed that the level of stakeholders’ capacity and opportunities for local communities in tourism development were low. Community members had restricted access to decision-making, lacked knowledge and skills and exhibited a marginal sense of ownership with regard to protected area tourism. The findings disclosed that the main factors derived from stakeholders’ perceptions that underpin the development of sustainable tourism in CKNP included: evolution of a participatory governance structure, a participatory strategic planning process and an integrated and inclusive policy approach to sustainable tourism development in the protected area.In view of the factors identified a guideline was proposed as a possible option for driving the process of sustainable tourism that incorporated the principles of participatory governance and strategic planning.

KeywordsTourism, sustainability, management, impact, livelihood, socio-economic development, nature, conservation
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350801. Impacts of tourism
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Accounting, Economics and Finance
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q3195/towards-and-integrated-systems-approach-to-sustainable-tourism-management-in-protected-areas

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