Testing the tourism partnership model; Testing theory in a new case; sustainable tourism in Wli Ghana

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The debate on sustainable tourism has many tailor-made solutions, but not many theories go beyond their own case. The debate is mostly empirical in nature instead of theoretical and is moving sideways with each new case instead of forward. This thesis looked for a theory that has the potential to be applied elsewhere then sought to test this applicability by considering whether it was appropriate for an entirely different context. This theory is the tourism partnership model. Selin and Chavez developed the tourism partnership model in 1995. Their research was based upon several cases in the United States and their theory was later tested and applied by Graci to the Gili Islands, Indonesia in 2013. The tourism partnership model describes how sustainable tourism can be improved by increasing the cooperation between stakeholders. It describes five different phases the stakeholders go through, each with its own aspects and requirements. Because it was based upon several cases in the U.S. and later applied to an Asian case, this theory has already proved useful in different surroundings. Showings it’s potential to become a more generalisable approach that can be applied to different cases. To test this theory in a new case, research has been conducted in Wli, Ghana. Home of West Africa’s highest waterfalls and a population who would like to improve sustainable tourism in their area. The results of this research are based upon interviews, group discussions, observations and everyday dealings with the case. The testing of this theory in another case proved positive. The research results verified that both cooperation and sustainable tourism improved with the help of the model. The stakeholders in this case have followed the five phases that are described in the tourism partnership model, but the research also shows a few differences. The strong-willed leader who plays an important role in this model and whose importance has been commented on by other authors differs in this case. In this case, the local context and culture had an impact on this role, changing this role within the process. While the theory suggest a strong-willed leader is essential in pushing the process forward. This research has found that it can also have a long term effect on the model. If a strong-willed leader does not fit within the cultural context of a case, decisions that are made with the help of the strong-willed leader are being questioned over time. The decisions made with the help of the strong-willed leader in this case were not accepted by all the stakeholders; because of this not all the stakeholders fully supported the decisions and outcome of the model. This undermined the outcomes of the model in the long run. Both the strong-willed leader and the monitoring and control system have had an influence on the sustainability and long term effect of the model. The first influenced the decision-making process, leading to decisions outside the cultural context that lost support of stakeholders in the long run. The second proved ineffective over the years when the original stakeholders were no longer involved or informed. Because of this the stakeholders started to lose faith in the outcome of their initial cooperation. Ultimately, I conclude that the tourism partnership model can be effectively applied to other cases. Its effectiveness has been determined in different cases and this research has two contributions that can be made to the model. The first is that decision-making and the strong-willed leader, who are both important to the model, need to fit within the cultural context of a case. The second is to keep the original stakeholders involved or informed on the decisions and outcomes of the tourism partnership model, this helps to maintain their support for the outcome and results of the model.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen