Collaborative sustainable development in drive tourism on the Wild Atlantic Way: A community perspective.
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The Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) large-scale drive tourism route is unique in Ireland in that it runs for 2500km of coastline from Donegal to West Cork. It incorporates hundreds of coastal communities on the extreme periphery of Europe. The success of drive tourism depends on the level of community collaboration and engagement in tourism developments (ITIC, 2011; WTTC, 2013; Timothy & Boyd, 2015), especially since communities have been identified as vital to a tourist’s experience (Carson et al, 2002). However obtaining community support and collaboration in such tourism developments can be difficult to attain. In order to achieve collaborative sustainable development in drive tourism on the WAW, community engagement is required to sustain this product and to further grow its potential. As such this drive tourism product requires a careful collaborative planning and management approach to sustainably develop the route and to ensure its longevity. The aim of this research was to assess the level of community collaboration and engagement with drive tourism on the WAW. In order to determine the specific levels of community engagement in this drive tourism product, a blended qualitative and quantitative methodology was employed. The questionnaire and qualitative interviews were conducted with a representative sample of community members along the WAW from Kinsale to Malin. This particular approach allowed for a valuable representation of results in relation to community collaboration in drive tourism in Ireland. The collected data was analysed using SPSS and NVIVO to produce findings. Analysis provided a valuable insight into community perspectives on the WAW while revealing a high level of awareness of the WAW and a basic understanding of the overall concept. The research identified at this early stage of the WAW product development lifecycle, a moderate level of community collaboration and engagement with the WAW. A limitation encountered with this study involved non engagement of the community. Finally this paper concludes that while there are moderate levels of community engagement with the drive tourism product, there is a significant level of community support for the development of this drive tourism product in Ireland. Acknowledgement of funding for this research is given to Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland.
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