Tourism Policy & Governance


Tourism is an important sector of any economy due to the numerous socio-economic benefits that accrue from it. According to Statistics New Zealand cited in Macdonald (2008, p.2), New Zealand’s tourism sector is the leading single export earner. Apart from earning a country foreign exchange and creating employment opportunities for many people directly and indirectly, this sector enables a country to display its cultures and heritage and foster mutual understanding between its people and other people with diverse cultures from different parts of the world. This paper is a summary of relevant academic journals on tourism policy and governance in New Zealand.

Tourism Policy

Just like any other socio-economic sector of a country, New Zealand’s tourism development and sustainability requires viable and realistic strategies and guiding principles or policies that can facilitate realization of set goals and objectives. Generally, tourism public policy refers to what relevant tourism stakeholders and specific governments opt to do concerning tourism sector (Hall, Jenkins, & Kearsley, 1997, p. 25). It is important to note that a range of similar factors that affects other public policies including socio-economic and cultural characteristics of a particular society, official governance structures, and other aspects of a political system influences tourism policy.

Tourism planning and policy-making processes in New Zealand

The principal Maori values of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga underpin and guide Tourism policy-making and planning processes in New Zealand (Macdonald, 2008, p.2; Adams, 2010, p.18). Kaitiakitanga connotes responsibility, protection, and care for New Zealand’s cultural and natural environments, as well as developing a safe, secure, and productive environment for present and future generations. On the other hand, Manaakitanga refers to the host’s mutual responsibility, whereby, visitors are welcomed to enjoy the best of tourist products provided by New Zealand (Hall, Jenkins & Kearsley, 1997, p.26). In overall terms, policy- making is a multistage and complicated process that comprises numerous institutions and players (Dredge & Lawrence, 2007, p.192).

Policy makers should understand tourism policy processes beyond this particular sector so that they can acknowledge the manner in which tourism policy affects other sectors of an economy. Such sectors include environmental management, as well as the way other sectors, like immigration policy affect tourism sector (Dredge & Lawrence, 2007, p.193). Tourism policy-making and planning process is an ever-changing socio-economically built activity that comprises various organizations and agents with different levels of interests in and obligation to tourism. Comprehending tourism planning and policy processes within a social constructionist framework is crucial because it enables one to question how tourism policy is made and explain how and why tourism policy is made (Dredge & Lawrence, 2007, p.193). For instance, understanding tourism policy in this context will assist policy makers to comprehend how and why some concerns such as impacts of tourism on a local community are brought up and deliberated on during policy formulation. It will also enable them to understand which issues are more or less crucial, as well as where policy makers should put in later policy formulations (Dredge & Lawrence, 2007, p.193). Furthermore, understanding tourism policy-making and planning processes in a social constructionist context offers a broad perspective on policy-making process. Finally, it helps relevant tourism policy makers to upgrade future policymaking practices and procedures.

It is important to note that policy-making is a complex process that has resulted to the use of different perspectives by scholars, analysts, and operators in academics and practice. For example, some actors view policy-making as a cycle, whereby, they see policy as a sequence of phases or decision-making steps that mould the nature and results of the succeeding phases. Others view policy formulation is as decisions, whereby, policy-making in this viewpoint is seen as a set of procedures or a sequence of processes directed mainly towards deciding about certain tourism concerns. Experts also see policy-making as an issue-identification and management process in which a set of matters and concerns are set aside. Most importantly, how policy designers handle significant issues determine how the whole policy-making process works out in the end. In addition, policy-making is as a sociopolitical construction in which policy formulation manifests how policy permeates through multi-sectored economic, social, and political frameworks that characterize government participation and action (Dredge & Lawrence, 2007, p. 194). It is important to note that these viewpoints are not necessarily isolated from one another; therefore, policy makers can apply them collectively alongside each other in explaining tourism policy-making and planning processes.

Sustainable Tourism and Governance

The ability of an organization or a socioeconomic sector to continuously realize improved financial benefits, expanding capital, and client base and sustain solvency, is a principal conventional goal. Therefore, sustainability in tourism sector is a major concern for virtually all governments world over. Sustainability is thus a popular term that is widely used by scholars and analysts in academics and writings on tourism issues (Page, 2002, p.222). It is important to mention that, proper and professional management of resources, which are critical to this sector and other closely related sectors of an economy like New Zealand, underpins sustainability in tourism.

Since 1991, New Zealand’s tourism sustainability fell under the provisions of the Resource Management Act (RMA) that clearly sought after integration of concept sustainability in planning law (Page, 2002, p.223). However, many tourism policy experts and analysts view RMA as a hindrance to tourism development in New Zealand. In the year 2000, New Zealand developed National Sustainable Tourism Strategy, which is a detailed plan for environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability with regard to tourism (Adams, 2010, p.15). New Zealand has also instituted the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015, whose vision is to position tourism as the largest contributor to a sustainable New Zealand economy (Adams, 2010, p.16; Jones, Shone & Memon, 2003, p.10; Jenkins, 2000, p.175). At the core of this strategy, is the concept of sustainable tourism, meant to satisfy needs of international and domestic visitors, as well as those of the host community, while at the same time safeguarding and promoting the attractions and values of a particular region for upcoming generations (Adams, 2010, p. 16).

It is pertinent to note that environmental quality and sustainability in tourism are closely related, since natural resources, upon which the tourism sector is based and supported, are found in the environment. This explains why environmental quality has been discussed widely along with sustainable tourism and other ever-increasing impacts of tourism (Page, 2002, p.223). An investigation carried out by New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commission for the Environment (PCE) in 1997 supported the significance of environmental quality in relation to sustainability in tourism (Page, 2002, p.224). The study brought to light three major negative environmental effects related to tourism including extreme pressure on infrastructure, depreciation of quality of some relatively unexploited parts of New Zealand’s natural environment, and emission of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change (Becken & Hart, 2005, p. 199). It is well to note that these adverse effects of tourism upon the environment were revealed when RMA was still the fundamental law for protection of the environment (Page, 2002, p.224; Albrecht 2011, p.13). Evidence available shows that local governments and regional tourism organizations have a critical role to play in the implementation of sustainable tourism.

Governance and tourism cannot be divorced because governance is a core concept at the heart of every public policy and overall national politics. According to scholars such as Hall (2011, p. 437), the current movement from the notion of the role of government to governance in tourism policy has important repercussions. Governance influences factors such as connections between policy actors, the ability of the government to take a given action relating to tourism, defining policy problems, and choosing policy instruments and indicators (Hall, 2011, p. 439). The contemporary state, partly due to the ever-increasing globalization of every aspect of human life, must adapt to its political and economic environments about how it functions with respect to matters pertaining to tourism policy since governing does not any longer take place through governments alone (Hall 2011, p.437; Zahra, 2010, p.535). For instance, various relevant stakeholders in the New Zealand tourism sector would like to influence tourism policy-making processes for their own benefits (Hall 2011, p.437; Zahra, 2010, p.535). Currently, as opposed to when the state used to play an unfettered role of exclusively controlling certain aspects of the tourism sector, the government is supposed to coordinate its socio-economic sectors to influence the tourism sector. The state has a duty of guiding the socio-economic system and relations between it and other policy actors in tourism sector and other sectors. Furthermore, the state should facilitate network relationships as well as public-private partnerships.

Reference List

Adams, C. (2010). Sustainable Tourism in New Zealand. Web.

Albrecht, J. N. (2011).Tourism in New Zealand: A Critical Perspective on Current & Future Issues. Pacific News. Web.

Becken, S., & Hart, P. (2005). Tourism Stakeholders’ perspectives on climate change policy in New Zealand. Web.

Dredge, D., & Lawrence, M. (2007). Tourism Planning and Policy Processes. In Dredge, D., & J. Jenkins (Eds.), Tourism Planning and Policy (pp. 191-224). Brisbane: John Wiley.

Hall, C. M., Jenkins, J., & Kearsley, G. (Eds.). (1997). Introduction: Issues in Tourism Planning and Policy in Australia and New Zealand. In Hall, C.M., Jenkins, J., & Kearsley, G. (Eds.), Australia and New Zealand: Cases, Issues and Practice (pp. 16-22). Sydney: Irwin Publishers.

Hall, C. (2011). A typology of governance and its implications for tourism policy analysis. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19 (4), 437–457.

Jenkins, J. (2000). The Dynamics of Regional Tourism Organizations in New South Wales, Australia: History, Structures, and Operations. Web.

Jones, T., Shone, M., & Memon, A. (2003). Emerging Tourism Planning Processes and Practices in New Zealand: A local and regional Perspective. Web.

Macdonald, F. (2008). Tourism Firm Performance: A Policy Perspective. Web.

Page, S. (2002). Towards Sustainable Tourism Development and Planning in New Zealand. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 10(3), 220-227.

Zahra, A. (2011). Rethinking regional Tourism governance: The principle of Subsidiarity. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(4), 535–552.

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