Burns, P (2004) 'Tourism Planning. A Third Way?', in Annals of Tourism Research, Vol 31, No. 1: 24 - 43.
[This piece takes some classic Third Way thinking, based on Giddens and the stuff about new dilemmas, and uses it to argue for some new thinking in tourism planning. In the first place, the arguments that marxism is dead and that old Left/Right divisions are now redundant are used to take on the left wingers who want to oppose commercial tourism and put development first. In the second, commercial tourism advocates are reminded about the limits of markets and the need to involve new stakeholders in a more consensual approach, especially if they want to see long-term returns. The article then goes on to take a classic 'masterplan' approach to tourism planning, and add in these new concerns, principally by insisting that new groups of stakeholders are allowed to participate at the various stages. Only right at the end do the usual sociological concerns become apparent -- what sort of groups do these stakeholders form? What relations of power and conflict exist between them? How can the considerable power of commercial companies be resisted? ]
The old alternatives are unsatisfactory. Commercial tourism needs to be reminded that short-term gains can fail to deliver long-term ones, and that tourist developments do not lead to social developments. On the other hand, ecotourists can protect environments, but not benefit local inhabitants, and are 'often focused on the ego- enhancing needs of affluent tourists' (25). Giddens's work on the third way can bring some new insights, offering to renew social democracy and providing a new 'conceptual framework by which to reflect on the problems of tourism, democracy, and planning' (26). Giddens offers five dilemmas to organise the debates: 'globalization, individualism, left and right, political agency, ecological issues and third way politics' (26). These can be contrasted to the old polarized debates about tourism planning, summarised as 'development first' versus 'tourism first' options (see table on page 26). In conceptual terms, there is support for the notion that tourism requires a multi-disciplinary approach.
It is common to produce a master plan to guide the development of tourism, but these have not generally been successful, requiring massive investment of resources, and running into local forms of opposition and resistance. If local people are not properly involved, plans will not be fully realised, and local people will not be engaged. The usual involvement of technical experts and 'representatives'does not solve the problem. Finally, globalization has added important dimensions beyond the control of national planners -- funding is increasingly derived from transnational bodies, and multinational global airlines are often in a position to impose their goals.
Giddens's five dilemmas need to be addressed by tourist planners [and a table on page 29 shows how this might be done -- how globalization raises implications; how individualism has emerged as a major force, opposing tradition and custom; how the end of the Left/Right split means that capitalism cannot be opposed but must be properly managed; that new political agents have emerged, including new social movements; that ecological problems must now be firmly incorporated into planning and sustainable development]. It follows that new political process must also be developed, and neither of the usual pole positions in the debate are adequate. Both parties are invited to participate in ways of moving forward to manage the tensions and problems that tourism brings, and this participation must be brought into the usual planning approach which currently 'is product and land-use fixated: it introduces neither the notion of setting or encouraging social institutions to enable participation by a full range of actors, nor the idea of monitoring impacts until the implementation stage' (31). The complexity of tourist planning must be acknowledged, and not reduced to economic or national factors alone.
These ideas are implemented in a new planning model, as in the diagram on page 32 [a basic planning process involving the usual programmes from goals to projects is supplemented and developed by reminders that there are potential conflicts and issues that need to be discussed at each stage, using Giddens' five dilemmas as prompts]. Burns proposes that academics might have a role here -- that anthropologists, for example, 'could clarify these political (decision-making) patterns and their underlying cultural dynamics so as to inform the planners' (33). Every effort must be made to expose the issues and get them discussed, and again academics can play a part since 'access to social expertise is needed to balance potential bias towards tourism at the expense of civic society at large' (33). The difficulty of forming up some stakeholders into groups that are capable of putting interests up for discussion is acknowledged, hence the commitment to develop suitable social institutions, and, guess what, '"academic participant observers" may contribute to the goal setting and process' (35) . Planners themselves should play a secondary role, and use their expertise only after the pre-planning, discussion stage. If this is done, it might emerge, for example that 'religious observance was far more important than profits from alcohol' (34), as the author found while working in Libya.
The views of foreign companies should also be represented, and the balance struck between their interests and those of locals. Overall control should remain with government institutions who 'will be able [in some ideal world] to insure that tourism planning remains a subset of [general national goals] rather than gaining some sort of life of their own' (35) [such reification often follows from excessive master planning]. International agencies similarly need to be represented, but above all, representatives of the destination country must be able to avoid domination by international tourism. As examples of possible decisions, both the 'homogenised mass resort that remains firmly in the control of few foreign trawler operators'and 'backpacking tourists... [who] were not likely to spend much' might be avoided. But calculation based on 'the realities that exist at the destination' should decide (37) .
It is even possible that such widespread consultation will produce 'several different types of tourism'to be encouraged to rather than just one. It should be possible to monitor developments over the long term, as alternatives emerge. Suitable institutions should be able to offer such alternatives and describe likely implications. Even potential targeted tourists should be involved.
While the private sector should be encouraged to develop tourism, they should also remain regulated by an agreed framework. This links with the discussion of public-private partnerships in Third Way thinking as a whole [and Hutton is quoted here, 37 - 8]: participation and discussion needs to be guaranteed.
This whole approach requires certain political democratic processes being developed, and tourism might show the way here by demonstrating how different interests might be reconciled. Continual attention should be given to monitoring the impact of tourism, and the need to reinvest, including investment in the environment. Mass resorts in the Mediterranean are now suffering the consequences of inadequate consultation and monitoring (and failure to consult their customers).
The approach so far has been 'conceptual... intended to broaden the debate about normal planning paradigms' (38). New academic disciplines would be involved [a particular interest of the academic in tourism, of course]. A more helpful international climate would need to develop, aimed at eliminating regional inequalities and controlling transnational corporations. Proper systems of costing and pricing would need to be developed, identifying the costs of consuming the environment, for example. 'Traditional destructive barriers' between the different agencies would need to be broken down. Sustainability would need to be guaranteed, and mechanisms developed to ensure 'equitable distribution of benefits... and... consensual lifestyles of stakeholders residing in the destination' (39). Social cohesion would be required.
Third way thinking offers the way forward, balancing rights and responsibilities, and stressing pragmatic thinking and multi-disciplinary approaches. However, there is considerable inertia in the traditional approaches. Further, 'it would be naive to assume that actors, participants and stakeholders could be easily identified and that they could work together. This would be like assuming that the community as a cohesive group with a single purpose' (40) [quite so, the whole proposal is ludicrous and naive unless the real bases of cooperation and conflict are examined first]. At least a full discussion of benefits as well as costs would be generated.
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