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Tourism Governance: Possibilities for a Participatory Model

A. Kotios and G. Galanos


University of Piraeus

Y. Saratsis
University of Thessaly

ABSTRACT Tourism is an activity fully integrated in the overall socio-economic and ecological system in a region. There is no aspect of local economy, society and environment which is not affected by tourism development, which in turn is also affected by the economic and social conditions and environmental characteristics of a region. Thus, because of this complex nature of tourism and also because of its very significant contribution to regional development it is necessary to involve all stakeholders (i.e. Government Authorities and Agencies, Local Authorities, Enterprises Associations, Workers Associations, Scientific and Research Organizations and Civil Society Representatives) in planning tourism development and in the implementation of tourism policy. The aim of the paper is to describe the creation of a local system (forum) of consultation, planning, programming, implementation and evaluation of tourism policy and the enhancement and unification of all development efforts undertaken by local government authorities and also enterprises in a common strategic plan. Given their different and usually contradictory interests all stakeholders should commit themselves in the context of a regional strategic tourism development plan in order to achieve the maximization of the expected results. 1. INTRODUCTION Tourism has been (and still is) one of the most rapidly developed sectors through the last decades. Despite the major economic crises that have emerged in the global economy since the 70s, tourism has increased its share in most countries and especially in the Mediterranean Region and undoubtedly it is the highest contributing sector in Greece, which has become one of the worlds biggest tourism destinations, combining interesting natural environment, historical and cultural attractions and a good level of lodging and entertainment services. Some of the Greek Regions are now heavily depended on tourism, which is a monoculture and is responsible for about 50% of the GDP in some cases. On the other hand, recent trends in global economy have changed the nature of competition in tourism. New markets have emerged and competition is not limited in specific countries or certain forms of tourism. Although Greece is still considered to be one of the most attractive tourism destinations in the world, it is difficult to keep this position unless tourism industry in the country becomes more intelligent. By saying tourism industry we do not only mean tourism sector companies. As we will briefly describe in this article, all actors in a given area must have a role in tourism development. This is because the operation of each of these actors produces externalities for the others and most of all this operation produces externalities (i.e. environmental degradation) that are negatively affect the tourism product and lower the attraction of an area. Nevertheless, tourism development has not been properly addressed. Usually Public Bodies and Governmental Authorities that have tourism as their main operational focus, have put as their major goal to attract more tourists just by implementing promotional marketing policies. On the other hand

most private enterprises do not care about pollution since their main objective is (logically) profit making and believe that Local Authorities are responsible for protecting the environment. On the other side NGOs and local residents are aware of the problems arising from the congestion that is evident in some cases and put pressure for measures to be taken in order to minimize tourism flows. Following, some bibliographical review on tourism governance is presented, then we describe how tourism governance takes place in Greece and we make a proposal for a Tourism Policy Forum that can be applied in Regional Level. This level is more appropriate and following the recent administrative changes in Greece we believe that the proposed Tourism Forum could have a good influence in tourism development in the country. 2. CURRENT PRACTICE IN TOURISM GOVERNANCE Most of recent research in tourism clearly points that tourism sector is much more complicated than any other industry. It combines many subsectors like hotels and accommodations in general, entertainment, restaurants and many more, but also takes inputs from other sectors like transport, energy, constructions, culture, agriculture and so on. More over, tourism has managed to substitute traditional sectors in many regions and is rapidly increasing. Also tourism has become one of the most aggravating sectors, which in many cases puts at risk the sustainable development of some areas. Having in mind UNEP-WTO (2005) recommendations, the sustainability problem is one of the most important to concentrate on when planning for tourism. Actually, the well known sustainability triangle, which combines economy, society and environment in a so called maximization (or minimization depending on whether we put the question in a negative or positive way) balance, shows that in order to have a successful solution of the sustainability problem we must combine in the most proper way these three elements. In other words we have to equally take into account the needs of each of the sides of this triangle (Greenwood, 1993, Bertucci, 2002). In general this problem has been given various answers in various cases. Depending on the overall development status of a country or a region and also the administrative culture that in each case exists, we can say that we are far from having a unique model of tourism governance. Thus, a grouping can be made in order to find some common solutions that have been applied (Beaumont and Dredge, 2010, Conti and Perelli, 2007, Dinica, 2008). Also the effectiveness of these different grouping is taken into account in order to find which could be the best case scenario for a Region in a country like Greece. The three major categories of organizational forms of tourism governance are as follows (Beaumont and Dredge, 2010): (1) Lead organization-governed networks, which are networks wherein a lead organization takes a central coordinating role, facilitating and enabling collaboration, often contributing in-kind support and leadership. Power is generally centralized and communication and decision-making may be topdown. (2) Participant-governed networks, which are networks wherein members themselves collaborate to achieve goals that would otherwise be outside the reach of individual stakeholders. Participantgoverned network relations are generally decentralized, less formal and dependent upon the social and human capital that exists in its members. (3) Network administrative organizations are the networks wherein a separate administrative entity is established specifically to undertake governance activities. This administrative unit, such as a Local Tourism Organization, operates as a central node for communication, coordination and decision-making. Having these in mind we could say that tourism development in Greece does not follow any of these forms. Actually, all these forms presuppose that interested stakeholders will have common policy goals, regardless who is the driving force and how these goals are set. Given a specific Region, namely Thessaly, as an example and just by simply listing the different actors directly or indirectly involved in tourism development we see that there exist many actors-stakeholders that

make coordination a difficult task (Table 1). Moreover, these actors do not try to find common ground with others so each of them is producing different solutions. Even those indirectly involved sometimes produce actions that could endanger tourism development by producing negative effects in some aspects like environmental pollution or traffic congestion problems. Most of all the directly involved stakeholders many times do not cooperate with each other and usually produce externalities that affect tourism development in general, but not their own operation in particular. There are many cases that major cultural events take place the same time in different areas in a Region, also transport systems (rail, buses, trains etc) do not make common timetable programming so visitors arriving with one mean must wait a substantial amount of time in order to take their next mean to continue their trip. Even more problematic is the operation of Government Level Bodies. Having in mind to cope with the major evolutions that take place in the global economy, they actually forget the local level, or they encompass it when it is absolutely a necessity, like when they have to finalize a promotion plan or when they have to propose a development agenda in external entities (such as EU, or UNWTO).
Table 1: Actors (Directly or Indirectly) Involved in Tourism in Thessaly Region (not exhaustively) Public Bodies Regional Municipalities Professional NGOs Unions and private Organizations enterprises Clubs Ministry of Regional Tourism Municipal Chamber of Friends of Train, Development/ promotion committee enterprises of Thessaly Mountaineers NTOG Tourism Culture Association of Club Works Studies Hotel Owners University of Regional Development Organizations of Association of Environmental Thessaly / TEI of Agency Environment Industries, Organizations Larissa Centers of Association of Environmental restaurant owners Education Archaeological, Regional Committee of Development Technical Cultural Clubs, Byzantine and culture and society Agencies Chamber, Athletic Clubs Newer monuments Economic services (ephorates) Chamber, Ministry of Regional Department of Cultural Centers Bus owners Transport, Ministry Environment and Museums Association, Ship of Naval Affairs Planning Owners Association Ministry of Protected Areas Municipal Police Environment Operating Bodies Tourism Police Source: Own Elaboration

In order to have an integrated tourism development policy in a region all these actors should be involved in the planning and implementation process of tourism policy (Hall, 2006). Each of them plays an important role in tourism industry. Some actors are more specialized in tourism services, while others have a wider operation (like the academic bodies for example) but they can provide crucial contribution in achieving the goal of sustainable tourism development. In the following section we try to provide a clear-cut framework of the organizational structure that we propose for the administration of tourism development. This of course could be an example of how other sectors could be administered also. But given the complex nature of tourism we believe that is of great importance to introduce such a structure in tourism and not to any other sector.

3. PROPOSED MODEL There are some actual problems in order to formulate such a structure for tourism policy. Most of them originate from the complexity of tourism, but also from the different demands of involved stakeholders and actors (Krutwaysho and Bramwell, 2010, Van der Borg, 2008). These problems can be solved, in some range, if the proposed tourism administration body has some legal power. Given the recent chances in the Administration Law in Greece this necessary legal power is attributed at the Regional Authorities Level. Also, the same Law proposes that in some Regions a Tourism Directory must be established in the organizational chart of the Regional Administrations. We believe that this Directory should be established in all Regional Authorities. But the proposed model stands far beyond the Administrative structure of Regional Authorities. The model proposed in this article tries to incorporate all actors and stakeholders in any given Region. At first a Local Forum for the Implementation of Tourism Policy is proposed. In this Local Forum representatives from all stakeholders must participate and must have a right of commitment for the bodies or associations that they represent. If this cannot be the case, the representatives must transfer the problems to their bodies and reply their position in a short period of time. Most of the issues discussed in the Local Forum must be decided by majority and only a few (especially those concerning environment) with full consensus. Of course decisions should be binding for all participating members. Secondly, the Local Forum must have the capacity to deal with specific issues through working groups that will help the participating members to make their decisions. These Working Groups will have thematic scope, can be permanent or provisional and can be formulated from some of the participating members of the Local Forum. Thirdly, a Coordination mechanism must be set. In order to have good communication between the participants at least an office with two or three persons can be set. This will act as a secretariat for the Local Forum and could be assisted from a Special Advisors Team when there will be urgent issues or when conflict resolution is needed.
Local Forum for the implementation of tourism policy Special Advisors Team

Coordinator

Working Groups Spatial Planning Environment Tourism economy Transportation Infrastructure and investments Education and Training Control and Evaluation

Figure1: Local Forum for Tourism Policy

Above a simple organizational chart is presented for the proposed Local Forum (Fig. 1). Actually, we proposed that the Local Forum must have a structure of the network administration type as given in the previous section and should be established as a Public-Private-Partnership scheme. Also, the Local Forum can propose interventions in other themes like water management restrictions for example that must be implemented by other public authorities, or training programs that are needed for human capital improvement. An effective administrational structure should also be flexible enough to change its internal structure by taking into account evolutions that will take place in the future. This means that the Working Groups or the Special Advisors Team should easily be transformed if needed.

4. CONCLUSIONS Given the complexity and the fragile nature of tourism, implementing tourism development policy is a multi-factor problem. This kind of problems has not a unique answer and has been confronted with many different solutions. In any case most of the proposed solutions that can be found in current experience in other countries can not be blindly imitated. This is a primary attempt to find some solutions for Greek Regions, which have recently altered as Administration Levels. Of course some basic answers can be given: Without legal power no structure can easily implement the policy that will be planned. The different demands of the numerous stakeholders must be taken into account and must be balanced in a way that all actors will commit themselves in a common goal. This model can not be successful in a short period of time. So a driving force that will put pressure is necessary to be the head of the proposed Local Forum. This can be the Regional Authority in every Region, given the fact that they have the capability and the legal status to act as such. But they must not operate independently from the other interested parts. REFERENCES
Beaumont N., and Dredge D., (2010) Local tourism governance: a comparison of three network approaches, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Volume 18, Issue 1 January 2010, pages 7 28 Bertucci G., (2002) Strengthening Local Governance in Tourism-Driven Economies, International Colloquium on Regional Governance and Sustainable Development in Tourism-driven Economies, Cancun, Q.R., Mexico - 20- 22 February 2002 Conti G., and Perelli C., (2007) Governing Tourism Monoculture: Mediterranean Mass Tourism Destinations and Governance Networks, in Burns P.M., and Novelli M., (eds), Tourism and Politics Global Frameworks and Local Realities, Elsevier Dinica V., (2008) Challenges for sustainable tourism governance in The Netherlands, International Journal of Tourism Policy 2008 - Vol. 1, No.4 pp. 335 352 Greenwood J., (1993) Business interest groups in tourism governance, Tourism Management, Volume 14, Issue 5, October 1993, Pages 335-348 Hall M.C,. (2006) Human Mobility: Barriers, Constraints and Open Borders, TTRA Dublin 2006 Regulatory Frameworks in Tourism: Mobilities, Policies and Governance Krutwaysho O., and Bramwell B., (2010) Tourism policy implementation and society, Annals of Tourism Research Volume 37, Issue 3, July 2010, Pages 670-691 Van der Borg J., (2008) Place Marketing, Governance and Tourism Development - Or How to Design the Perfect Regional Tourist Board?. University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Economics Research Paper Series No. 04_08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1098168 UNEP-WTO [United Nations Environment Program and the World Tourism Organization] (2005). Making Tourism More Sustainable A Guide for Policy Makers. Paris.