Visitor Centers, Collaboration, and the Role of Local Food and Beverage as Regional Tourism Development Tools: The Case of the Blackwood River Valley in Western Australia
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Past research highlights the importance of collaboration as a critical element in the development of regional tourism. In this context of collaborative relationships, the role of visitor centers in promoting and in raising awareness of existing tourism-related activities, including those with a food and beverage theme is vital. The present study examines the extent to which visitor centers in an emerging tourist destination with a farming background, the Blackwood River Valley in Western Australia, use these tools to develop their local tourism. Face-to-face interviews were conducted among representatives of four visitor centers. Respondents acknowledge much collaboration (as opposed to competition), not only within the region but also with other neighboring regions in their present and future development efforts. Despite being a rural region with a tradition in horticultural farming, raising cattle, fishing, and more recently being home to a burgeoning wine sector, respondents recognize that not enough emphasis is placed on promoting food-, wine-, and farm-related tourism themes. Thus, an argument is made that the traditional farming sectors could also play a key role in raising the profile of the tourism in this area and draw quality visitors.