Collaborative sustainable tourism development in Ireland: Local Authorities' use of sustainable tourism indicators.
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Responsible Tourism development and resort planning guidelines in Ireland hold one of the keys to collaborative sustainable development. Tourism planning permission is granted by Local Authorities. Yet in order to achieve collaborative sustainable tourism development specific tools are increasingly available to Local Authorities to help sustainably plan and develop tourism. The EC developed the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS) and here in Ireland the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded the development of the DIT-ACHIEV Model of Sustainable Tourism Planning (2012), using sustainable tourism indicators. The aim of this baseline study is to investigate every Local Authority’s use of tourism indicator systems in Ireland when planning sustainably for tourism. Both published and draft County Development Plans (CDPs) of the 29 Local Authorities in Ireland were examined using a content analysis approach. This analysis centred on eleven criteria based on existing theory and incorporating various models and guidelines developed by the industry such as the EPA/DIT ACHIEV Model (2012) and the European Tourism Indicator System (2013) to determine if Local Authorities have moved toward implementing sustainable tourism indicator systems in order to achieve collaborative sustainable development of tourism. This research identified that Local Authorities CDP’s did acknowledge the contribution tourism has on the local economy. Similarly, CDP’s also valued the natural environments, which is crucial to tourism in Ireland and are developing plans based on this. However, while some CDP’s did employ certain resort planning guidelines, this study found that Local Authorities had a very low utilisation of specific planning tools such as indicator systems (ETIS and DIT ACHIEV Model) for achieving collaborative sustainable tourism development in their respective counties. This paper concludes with the future direction of research into factors impacting on this such as staffing, budget or training and what is the key to addressing this for successful collaborative sustainable development into the future.
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