Addressing Power in Integrated Tourism Planning

Whether conceptualizing power as it exists in the relationship between actors in a network, or as a hegemonic force that creates and reinforces barriers to participation along the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, class and so on, power is at play in the integrated tourism planning process. Thus, strategies must address competing agendas and different levels of influence or ‘voice’ that may result in unequal inclusion/exclusion and dispersion of impacts. Below are considerations for addressing power. Planners should:

  • • Understand the local culture, history, economic and political context of any community they are working in; understanding these will help to recognize the power dynamics that may be influencing the planning process.
  • • Use social learning or social mobilization approaches that engage and motivate a wide range of stakeholders to raise awareness about the planning process.
  • • Use a third-party convener to help facilitate inclusive techniques for gathering perceptions from various stakeholders and working through the decision-making process.
  • • Provide social networking opportunities among the various stakeholders in order to increase social capital and strengthen bonds (e.g. farmers meeting and greeting with developers).
  • • Focus on community capacity building and empowering stakeholders to take ownership of the planning process, as this will also strengthen buy-in of the process.
  • • Leverage the use of gatekeepers to access various stakeholder groups, especially those that are marginalized or underrepresented in community planning processes.
  • • Provide educational opportunities and material that can help bring awareness and understanding of tourism, the planning process and its impacts to secondary stakeholders that are not directly involved in the tourism industry.
  • • Consider the practical and strategic needs of the community broadly and integrate planning strategies that may also address these (e.g. lack of childcare opportunities, poor health care services, poor public transportation).
  • • Make sure to utilize various platforms for input (e.g. town hall forums, mailed surveys, intercepts, online feedback) as well as various marketing strategies for getting stakeholders involved (e.g. newspaper advertisement, Facebook group, acknowledgement in city council meetings, door-to-door solicitation).
  • • If structural barriers exist, host targeted focus groups and interviews with these marginalized members both in exclusive settings (just these members) and in settings that bring all the various stakeholders together.
  • • If certain groups need additional support in voicing their opinions, work with a third party representative who can help articulate their voice if necessary (e.g. community organizer).
  • • Employ popular and citizen education to bring awareness to certain stakeholder groups about the barriers they face to participating compared to other stakeholder groups.
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