Identification of the main points of the literature review
The current paper explores the issues of sustainable tourism with special reference to New Zealand. Specifically, the paper examines the existing correlation between sustainable tourism in this country and the Resource Management Act.
The paper begins with the traditional requirements for tourism planning which include a physical-spatial approach, boosterism, a community-oriented approach, and an economic-industry approach (Page & Thorn, 1997). It then narrows down to sustainable tourism planning as the fifth and more recent approach.
This choice has been necessitated by its impact on the environment and economic development, long-term concern for resources, and a desire to fulfil both the current and future needs. Nonetheless, certain conditions must also be fulfilled before the tourism planning approach can be achieved.
They include industry co-ordination, co-operation, non-sustainable options, consumer awareness regarding the issue of sustainability, commitment to the sustainable goals, and strategic planning.
The existence of sustainable tourism hinges on the ability of the tourism industry to embrace growth and development, along with varying levels of tourist at specific locations. This calls for proper planning. The paper argues that tourism development should be a concern for both the public and the private sectors
New Zealand is both a local as well as an international tourist destination and as such, the government is concerned about tourism growth because of its potential to generate foreign exchange. The government therefore plays an active role in the sector, through the Resource Management Act (Page & Thorn, 1997).
This is a body charged with the responsibility of enacting legislation regarding land planning laws with regard to tourism. In this case, emphasis is on pollution, soil management, and waste disposal. However, New Zealand has failed to achieve sustainable tourism alternatives both at the local and regional level because there is a lacking national strategy or policy to guide the principles documented by the Resource Management Act.
The study made use of a survey to examine the issue of tourism sustainability both at the local and the regional level. The research methodology for the research study was designed to explore the level to which tourism acted as a fundamental activity in as far as the planning process is concerned, not to mention its function with regard to the Resource Management Act (Page & Thorn, 1997).
The survey was quite descriptive in nature. In this case, the main objective of the survey was to capture how councils plan their tourism activities as a foundation for further research. The survey questionnaire consisted of 21 specific questions, each of which had multiple responses.
The survey respondents were the planning managers at both the regional and local authorities within New Zealand. Therefore, the survey questionnaire was posted to the respondents and in order to encourage the response the questionnaire include a pre-paid return envelope. The study realized 49 responses out of the 81 posted.
The study realised a 64% response rate. It is worth of note hat of the 36% who did not respond, 50 % of these consisted of city councils. The non respondents were made up of primary rural and primary urban councils. Out of the 14 city councils interviewed, only 7 respondents and out of 55 district councils interviewed, only 22 did not respond. The patterns of identifying tourism reduced with increase in resident population.
The ability of the respondents to forecast on the anticipated volume of visitors within their localities was also low, at 12%. 50% of the respondents were optimistic that the 1999/2000 America’s Cup Defence and the Sydney 200 Olympics would have a positive impact on the industry (Page & Thorn, 1997). 63% of the respondents lacked a specific policy to tackle the issue of tourism within their area.
Although almost two-thirds of the councils had already implemented a visitor management strategy, many of them (65%) are yet to embrace it as a tourism strategy. The RMA legislation was met with resistance by a number of the council. In terms of development, a majority of these were attributed to the private sector (68%).
Although tourism continues to enjoy social and economic importance in New Zealand, nonetheless the government has abandoned regional and local economies to grapple with the challenge of attending to future tourism development. The RMA has also not succeeded in establishing if indeed tourism needs to be constrained, deterred, or expanded in certain areas (Page & Thorn, 1997).
The domestic and international tourism may be enjoying economic and social benefits of tourism but owing to a lack of a national framework, these benefits cannot be spread out to larger localities.
Although the article argues that the New Zealand government recognised the need to strike a balance between the profit-oriented private sector and the public sector which is more concerned with the issue of economic optimisation, it is not clear yet why the Tourism Policy Group is both understaffed and underfunded, yet tourism remains a key employer in New Zealand.
It is also ironical that the same body is also charged with the responsibility of stimulating local and regional tourism. However, the study has managed to capitalise on one of the weaknesses of prior research studies that have failed to examine the role played by such statutory bodies as the RMA with respect to both local and regional tourism sustainability.
Nonetheless, the study is characterized by a number of discrepancies with regard to the respondents. For example, some of the councils responded on behalf of others and this not a reflection of the true findings of the study. The method of administering the questionnaires (postal survey) may also have played part in reducing the response rate.
Also, there was no follow-up of those respondents who did not submit their survey questionnaire, leaving the researchers to guess as to the lack of their response. The questionnaire was also detailed and demanding (21 multiple response questionnaires) and this could have contributed to the lack of completion of the questionnaire by some of the respondents.
Details on the volumes of domestic tourist are also very sketchy and yet the study intends to examine sustainable tourism at the local and regional levels. Planers and decision makers rely on outdated data and this may perhaps explain the lack of a clear picture on domestic tourism.
Generation of Question
One of the questions that could be generated from the current study is; does the future look bright for sustainable tourism planning in New Zealand?
Page, S. J., & Thorn, K. J., 1997. Towards Sustainable Tourism Planning in New Zealand: Public Sector Planning Responses. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 5(1).