Stakeholder engagement in destination management: Exploring key success factors.
Lally, Ann Marie.
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The development of sustainable tourism destinations that can produce the requisite social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts requires high levels of interconnectedness between all stakeholders (Timur & Getz, 2008), however it is widely acknowledged that managing effective stakeholder interactions within tourism destinations is a task which is both complex and challenging. The objective of this research is to explore the strategies, activities and structuring of collaborative initiatives within tourism destinations in order to explicate best practice and elucidate the antecedents of effective stakeholder engagement at destination level. This research paper presents the findings of a study of stakeholder engagement practices within tourism destinations, namely Waterford, Ennis and Carlow. The first stage of the project involved a critical review of extant literature so as to clearly establish the characteristics and antecedents of successful inter-organisational collaboration, the factors that impact upon levels of stakeholder engagement and the range of potential impacts that effective stakeholder engagement can provide to tourism organisations, destinations and regions. A case approach was then utilised so as to allow for the dynamics of stakeholder engagement to be studied through understanding, observation and engagement with actual practice. The case studies were chosen to reflect stakeholder engagement structures of varying age, size, governance and location. A number of data collection methods (incl. interviews, direct-observation and documentary analysis) are used at each case location in order to build a holistic picture of the stakeholder engagement initiatives and their destination management impacts. The study allowed for the identification of a number of key success factors for harnessing the collective potential of destination stakeholders and led to the development of a number of recommendations to promote effective stakeholder engagement across the sector. By bringing together extant knowledge and case evidence in the area of stakeholder engagement, it is proposed that this paper will inform dialogue and practice in engaging stakeholders within tourism destinations.
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