Stakeholder Collaboration in Sustainable Urban Tourism Development: The Case of Hue City, Vietnam
Hoang, Thi Hue
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In 2018 international tourism generated 1.4 billion international arrivals and grew at an annual rate of 6% from 2016 (UNWTO, 2019). Urban tourism has been at the centre of much of this growth because cities are not only appealing destinations in themselves but also ‘gateways’ to surrounding areas (Pasquinelli & Bellini, 2017). Cities face significant challenges in managing this tourism growth – with the broader sustainability of the industry now a focus of many urban tourism strategies in both the developed and developing world. If urban tourism is to develop in a more sustainable fashion it is clear that the various stakeholders who are engaged with the industry in some way must collaborate effectively to reach common goals (Zamfir & Corbos, 2015; Paskaleva-Shapira, 2001). Medium-sized cities in developing nations have received relatively limited attention in the literature on urban sustainable tourism. This thesis investigates stakeholder collaboration in sustainable urban tourism development using the case of Hue City (Hue) – a mid-sized city in Vietnam with a vibrant and growing tourism economy. The study aims to gain a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on sustainable tourism development, existing levels of stakeholder collaboration, and barriers that influence the implementation of sustainable urban tourism development in Hue. The study also aims to provide recommendations that may enhance stakeholder collaboration in sustainable tourism development in Hue. Qualitative methods based on a case-study inquiry were adopted to address these aims. Twenty-nine semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with key stakeholders from the supply-side in Hue City's tourism industry including interviewees from local government authorities, tourism enterprises, professional associations and tourism experts. The data were thematically analysed and categorised to highlight shared and differing viewpoints between respondents. The research reveals that the awareness and understanding of sustainable tourism and its implementation in Hue City among government authorities and tourism experts is quite high and more broad-based than their counterparts from the private sector. The private sector, including large, small and medium enterprise owners, have relatively limited knowledge of the concept of sustainable urban tourism beyond the notion of sustaining enterprise profitability and revenue. Nevertheless, a number of participants from the private sector are paying greater attention to environmental conservation and local community development. Most participants believe that tourism development in Hue has been relatively sustainable in terms of socio-cultural and environmental dimensions, but that the level of economic sustainability is quite poor. Although all the respondents thought that the tourism sector’s use of the environment in Hue is relatively sustainable, several issues require more attention to prevent pollution and environmental degradation in the city. Moreover, participants felt that the lack of sustainable income being generated by tourism businesses in the city may well have a negative impact on community quality of life and job security. The research shows that stakeholder collaboration in the Hue tourism sector is not strong and can be enhanced. Participants suggested that the main barriers to enhanced stakeholder collaboration in sustainable tourism implementation in Hue were the differing perspectives of stakeholders, ineffective communication between key groups, weak leadership and a lack of a common vision, asynchronous administration systems and limited budgets for tourism development. The thesis provides important insights into the challenges facing sustainable tourism development in a mid-sized Vietnamese city. As such it provides both academic and applied research insights that resonate well beyond the city itself. The study will be of value to those sites elsewhere in Vietnam and Asia where there is a need to better understand how to implement visions for sustainable urban tourism - in particular to enhance and manage stakeholder collaboration.