Environmental management and the international competitiveness of nature-based tourism destinations : the case of Tropical North Queensland

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Copyright: Huybers, Twan
The natural environment is a key attraction for Australia s tourism industry. In order to prevent the deterioration of the environment, environmental management measures have been adopted by the tourism industry. Some of these measures are related to environmental regulations imposed on tourism operators by governments. However, given the dependence of the nature-based tourism industry on the environment, voluntary environmental management measures have also been instituted. The objective of this thesis is to investigate the effect of environmental management on the competitiveness of a nature-based tourism destination. For that purpose, Tropical North Queensland, a major Australian nature-based destination, is selected as a case study. Competitiveness is measured by the aggregate profitability of the tourism industry in the destination region. The investigation incorporates an assessment of the simultaneous effects of environmental management on the destination s tourism demand and on business costs to tourism operators at the destination. The conceptual background to the investigations is discussed in the first part of the thesis. It includes the rationale for choosing a nature-based destination region as the unit of analysis. The conceptual framework is a departure from the conventional analysis of the relationship between the environment and international competitiveness in which the effect of regulatory compliance costs is emphasised. In this thesis, the potential demand benefits and the associated voluntary environmental management are added to the conventional analytical framework. The primary data for the analysis are derived from two separate investigations. The first comprises an analysis of the tourism industry in Tropical North Queensland. The second investigation involves a discrete choice modelling analysis of destination choices by prospective visitors to Tropical North Queensland. The empirical results show that it is justified to treat the nature-based tourism destination region, Tropical North Queensland, as an aggregate entity in the analysis. The destination competes as a collective unit with other destinations. This is done, predominantly, on the basis of the region s high-quality natural attractions. The empirical analyses show that tourism businesses costs due to environmental management are small in comparison with the positive demand effects. The cost and demand effects are assessed in a quantitative fashion in an economic model. That analysis shows that environmental management makes a positive contribution to Tropical North Queensland s competitiveness as a nature-based tourism destination.
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Huybers, Twan
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PhD Doctorate
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