From lessees to partners: exploring tourism public-private partnerships within the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service
Wilson, E, Nielsen, N & Buultjens, J 2009, 'From lessees to partners: exploring tourism public-private partnerships within the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 269-285.
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In a “new” protected-area management paradigm which requires close working relationships with a range of stakeholders, it is important that national parks managers recognise the individual interests of each group with whom they are expected to collaborate. A substantial body of research has investigated non-commercial collaborative activities among natural resource managers, tourism organisations and community groups. However, little academic attention has been paid to commercial tourism collaborations, particularly public-private partnerships (PPPs) with tourism operators. PPPs are often more contentious and require careful management to ensure sustainability and political acceptance. This paper reports on qualitative research, exploring the quality and nature of commercial lease arrangements between the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and a number of their private on-site tourism providers. In-depth interviews were conducted with fourteen key stakeholders involved in these partnerships. Based on an emergent approach to analysis, five main themes emerged which define the nature and quality of relationships between NPWS and tourism operators. Ultimately, it is argued that in commercial PPPs, protected-area managers need to move beyond viewing tourism operators as mere “lessees”, seeing them instead as valued and long-lasting “partners”.