The role of key stakeholders in sustainable tourism development: the case study of Nelson/Marlborough/Golden Bay in New Zealand
Contemporary tourism planning recognises that an integrated and sustainable development approach includes the participation of local communities and residents. Success depends on community level capacity for innovation and leadership which are important variables for the creation and implementation of new ideas as part of the development process. The main aim of this research is to determine the capacity of stakeholders to support integration of tourism and aquaculture through development of a themed seafood tourism trail in the Nelson/Marlborough/Golden Bay region of New Zealand as a means to promote sustainable tourism. In 2005 the Marine Farming Association developed and published the “Top of the South Aquaculture and Seafood Trail” as a brochure for tourists to promote a positive image of aquaculture in the region. The Trail integrates local tourism providers, restaurants, accommodation, seafood retail, as well as harvesting and processing businesses (mussel farms) as part of a themed driving route linking several peripheral communities. Themed driving routes are an innovative means for providing destinations with the opportunity to bring tourists and associated economic outcomes to remote locations. There is strong economic dependence on aquaculture and tourism in the region with both industries generating a combined NZ$402 million annually in the Nelson Region alone. The research involved interviews with 22 local stakeholders regarding their perceptions about strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities associated with the Trail as part of a mixed method, case study approach. The results show that tourism and aquaculture in the region are well developed, but that there are weaknesses in networking and collaboration within and among industrial sectors. In addition, there are differing perceptions of the aquaculture and tourism industries. The role of the university has been important in building community capacity for research and strategic planning linked to the Trail.