Regional tourism in transition: Western Australia's new concept for regional tourism
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This paper explores regional tourism policy and planning in the context of the pressures and challenges regions have experienced in recent times. Regional tourism is often regarded as a powerful engine of the regional economy, particularly in times when many regions experience a decline in traditional industries and find it difficult to adjust to the resulting economic and social restructuring pressures. However, there appears to be consistent strategy to deal with the ongoing changes in the region and with the question of how tourism can contribute to regional development best. This creates some uncertainty an instability in tourism policy and planning at the regional level. It comes therefore as no surprise that the organisation of regional tourism is currently under review in many countries. In Australia, regional tourism is formally part of the role of the states and territories. At this sub-national level varying institutional arrangements, which are mainly based on the geography of government administration, have been put in place to manage tourism. Currently there is, however, a strong move away from the political-administrative boundaries to promote, develop and plan regional tourism. These changes in the regional organisation of tourism reflect a clear policy direction to enhance international competitiveness by pro-active destination marketing.This paper explores the effectiveness of such change, using Western Australia as a case study as the government there in 2004 replaced its eleven Tourism Regions with five Tourism Zones. The main purpose of this re-alignment of tourism boundaries was to better reflect travel pattern, visitor expectations and product availability as well as iconic experiences. Moreover, the new concept also aimed to create more efficient and effective administrative arrangements for Western Australian tourism with greater control and responsibilities at the regional level.
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