The growing demand for access to resources of various kinds for tourism purposes presents an ongoing challenge for a wide range of stakeholders and appropriate management strategies are required (Bramwell and Lane 2011). Concepts taken from a model of integrated rural tourism (IRT) (Saxena et al. 2007) offer a response to this challenge which is discussed in this paper and illustrated with reference to evidence from Ireland. IRT should promote: (i) sustainability of the natural resource base, economy, society and culture; (ii) empowerment of local people (e.g., through providing employment and affording some influence over tourism development); (iii) involve local ownership, which is recognised as contributing to the protection of resources and being more conducive to the retention of expenditure locally than is international ownership, where profits may flow overseas; (iv) be of a scale appropriate to location (e.g., avoidance of large scale developments in small villages and towns); (v) be complementary to other local activities instead of conflicting with them (e.g., a lack of conflict with agriculture); (vi) involve networking with appropriate businesses, organisations and agencies locally and extra-locally (e.g., nationally and, possibly, internationally); and (vii) networking that is embedded in the local resource base and society but also appropriately dis-embedded (e.g., a capacity to attract tourists nationally and internationally).
The various features of IRT complement each other. Ideally, sustainability through an integrated approach should be pursued in a strategic way (Cawley and Gillmor 2008). This involves: (i) a clearly defined set of objectives (holistic sustainability and empowerment), which are supported by (ii) appropriate actions (features of ownership, scale, complementarity) and reinforced by (iii) networking that maximises on links with local and extra-local stakeholders as appropriate. This strategic framework was applied to analyse the management of an Irish salmon fishery, the River Moy, which is used for tourism purposes. A salmon fishery is heavily dependent on the protection of the quality of the water and the hatching and the nursery areas for the young fish and their feeding grounds at sea when they mature. Salmon angling is a niche sport which is growing in popularity and which makes substantial economic contributions on a localised basis. There is an essential requirement to balance protection of the salmon stocks and the allowable catches of the fish for the anglers. Salmon fisheries also often assume considerable historical importance and are part of local cultural resources. A salmon fishery therefore provides an interesting context in which to assess the merits of an integrated approach followed in a strategic way to pursuing the holistic sustainability of resources that have tourism uses. The paper illustrates the effectiveness of such an approach in operation. It also enables points of weakness to be identified which require remediation. It is suggested that the ‘model’ adopted in this paper might be applied in other case studies in order to evaluate its value further.
Bramwell, B. and Lane, B. (2011), Editorial Introduction: Critical research on the governance of tourism and sustainability, Journal of Sustainable Tourism 19, 411-421.
Cawley, M. and Gillmor, D.A. (2008), Integrated rural tourism: concepts and practice, Annals of Tourism Research 35, 316-337.
Saxena, G., Clark, G., Oliver, T., Ilbery, B. (2007), Conceptualising integrated rural tourism, Tourism Geographies 9, 347-370.