Place change and tourism development conflict: evaluating public interest

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Dredge, D 2010, 'Place change and tourism development conflict: evaluating public interest', Tourism Management, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 104-112.

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As a set of economic activities, tourism trades on the character of special places. Conflict can emerge where local residents perceive that tourism development proposals challenge the special qualities of place, and where place meaning and attachments are compromised. A key function of government in mediating conflict is to protect public interests, yet explicit consideration of public interest in tourism development conflict is unusual. This paper argues for a reinvigoration of public interest in the mediation of tourism development conflicts. It explores the concept of public interest and how governments interpret and give meaning to it in development debates. In a case study of a cruise ship terminal proposal on the Gold Coast, Australia, the state adopted a neoliberal interpretation of public interest wherein increased global competitiveness of the destination was the overriding common good pursued. Local and diverse interests were marginalised in the debate. The paper concludes that in order to reinvigorate public interest, a public interest evaluation framework for tourism development is needed.

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