Why cluster? Text and sub-text in the engagement of tourism development policies with the cluster concept

Weidenfeld, Adi and Williams, Allan M. and Butler, Richard W. (2011) Why cluster? Text and sub-text in the engagement of tourism development policies with the cluster concept. In: Stories of Practice: Tourism Policy and Planning. Dredge, Dianne and Jenkins, John, eds. Ashgate Publishing, pp. 335-358. ISBN 9780754679820

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Abstract

Policies in the advanced capitalist economies increasingly are addressing key dimensions of clusters in terms of their contribution to tourism production and consumption. This presents issues in terms of regulation, including planning and development, encouraging cooperation, network formation, diffusion of innovations and balancing cooperation and competition. The impacts of tourism policies on tourism production, and in particular the role of the cluster concept in shaping these policies, are examined. The findings throw light on the debate over the role of cluster policies in tourism production in general and the impact of spatial proximity and thematic similarity between visitor attractions on the locational decision making process for new attractions and facilities at tourism destinations.
An examination of issues related to translating the cluster concept from theory into practice reveals different approaches to understanding tourism planning and policy making. Sustained commitment to neoliberal policy directions before the 1980s, whereby commercial forces shaped tourism spaces, can explain the emergence of tourism clusters as deliberate or accidental, with winners and losers through a critical, social constructionist approach to capture the relational complexities of tourism planning and policy making in the study area (Dredge and Jenkins, the introduction of the book). However, this chapter also reveals formal and informal policies, which reflect increasing involvement in reflexive processes of identifying existing or emerging vulnerabilities. Their influence represents public interest, social justice, transparency and accountability beyond neo-liberal forces. This chapter presents how these contradicting forces play out in the decisions and actions of the actors and agencies involved, and in the structures and practices of tourism planning and policy making. It provides an opportunity to look beyond the cluster theory underlying the development of tourism clusters and provides a better understanding of the challenges of tourism planning, policy making and governance in translating clustering policies into practice in tourism.

This case study focuses on the relatively understudied attraction sector in two tourism clusters in the UK with low and high levels of agglomeration of visitor attractions respectively.
The chapter begins by exploring the literature on the cluster concept and clustering policies in tourism, followed by the methodology and a critical review of current tourism development policies in the study areas. It then explores the popularity of the cluster concept amongst tourism protagonists and what it means to attraction operators. The next section continues through individual ‘stories’ reflecting the ways policies are implemented and shape tourism clusters. The case study provides an insight into the reasons for the locations of some of the visitor attractions in the study areas and illustrates the nature of the planning decision making processes. It also reveals how formal and informal policies influence the development planning process.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Marketing, Branding and Tourism
Item ID: 10131
Notes on copyright: Used by permission of the Publishers from ‘Why cluster? Text and sub-text in the engagement of tourism development policies with the cluster concept’, in Stories of Practice: Tourism Policy and Planning eds. by Dianne Dredge and John Jenkins (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 335–358. Copyright © 2011
Depositing User: Adi Weidenfeld
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2013 14:15
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2018 08:14
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131

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