The quagmire of stakeholder engagement in tourism planning: A case example from Australia
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After its first election win in August 2001 since the Northern Territory of Australia (NT) was granted self-government (1978), the incoming NT Labor government released a new tourism plan, the Northern Territory Tourism Strategic Plan-2003-2007 in the following year. Turbulent events of 2001 that had a significant impact on the tourism industry in the NT and included the collapse of the Australian carrier Ansett Airlines and "September 11" provided the impetus for the new strategy. Purportedly, this plan was designed to direct and guide the NT tourism industry's future development based on sound research and extensive consultation with key stakeholders. Such a partnership approach was regarded as crucial for the success of future tourism in the Territory. This article specifically focuses on the formulation process of this Tourism Strategic Plan, exploring in particular the effectiveness of the underlying consultation process. Adopting a microperspective on tourism planning processes with the NT case example we portray a unique case that allows us to highlight not only the complex and dynamic nature of tourism planning during times of significant change in the Territory's political landscape, but also the often-experienced contradictions between tourism planning rhetoric and practice. Even though we explore a planning process that dates back about a decade, we believe that the findings of the study are relevant and inform current tourism policy and planning discourses.
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