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Title: The role of stakeholder participation in tourism planning in Oman
Authors: Al Mahrizi, Ahmed Sulaiman Khalfan
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: While stakeholder participation is recognised as an important element in sustainable tourism development, research on its applicability within different political and socio-cultural contexts is still evolving. This thesis examines the applicability of the democratic concept of stakeholder participation, to tourism planning efforts in the Sultanate of Oman, a non-democratic and emerging tourism destination. In doing so, it seeks to understand how stakeholder participation can contribute to tourism planning in the Omani context. This study is rooted in the constructivist epistemology and followed a qualitative methodology that included analysis of planning documents, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with different tourism stakeholders. Tourism planning documents and stakeholder discourse are analysed to understand the challenges in the current planning process and the perspectives of tourism stakeholders on strengthening stakeholder participation to ensure sustainable tourism development. The findings reveal that the current system of planning in Oman is characterised by decision-making power vested at the very top of the government hierarchy. All planning decisions are made by the government with bigger companies and experts providing input. The system has several weaknesses as perceived by stakeholders, including, a lack of clear direction for the tourism sector, fragmented decision-making, and lack of coordination among government stakeholders leading to delays in implementation. Stakeholders’ discourse reveals enthusiasm for more stakeholder participation as an effective mechanism to address the weaknesses, reduce community resistance to tourism and to ensure effective longer-term tourism development. However, in contrast to existing typologies of stakeholder participation, non-government stakeholders in Oman do not see themselves as part of the decision-making process; rather they emphasise that the government should make the ultimate decisions, which these should be based on stakeholder recommendations. The main contribution of this thesis is that it builds on and extends the existing typologies of stakeholder participation and stages of tourism planning by proposing an integrated framework for tourism planning and stakeholder consultation that is contextualised for Oman. The framework provides solutions that addresses the weaknesses in the Omani tourism planning system and can reduce community resistance to tourism development efforts. The framework has the potential to be applied in other non-democratic countries, which share similarities with Oman, but this is subject to validation from future research.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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