Power, Stakeholder Involvement and the Dispersion of Impacts

Community participation and stakeholder literature have discussed many of the practical issues that create barriers to participation, such as limited financial resources and the substantial time investment on the part of those facilitating the planning process (Tosun, 2000). Likewise, meaningful and informed participation requires that the stakeholders have an understanding of tourism, the planning process itself and the way tourism will impact them if they want to meaningfully participate in the process (Cardenas et al., 2015). As such, lack of knowledge or awareness of tourism or the tourism planning process by stakeholders can act as a barrier to participation (Tosun, 2000; Cardenas et al., 2015). The importance of this, as Hatipoglu et al. (2016) noted, is that the ‘lack of knowledge by the local community may result in their losing control and the power to influence the development of tourism’ (p. 308). Others have stated concerns about effectively involving local residents due to a lack of skills, capital, resources, experience or empowerment (Tosun, 2000). For example, there are stakeholders who are excluded because they lack childcare options, work multiple jobs, do not have consistent transportation, may be unfamiliar with how to navigate the planning process or may have to step outside the comfort of their social networks. However, a more critical focus on the construct of power could help to (i) further investigate power relations in the planning process and explore barriers to stakeholder involvement by identifying deeper causes of the barriers; (ii) recognize the link between power dynamics to the patterned dispersion of impacts; and (iii) create strategies to overcome or address power in tourism planning.

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