Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Tourism Management

School

School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Professor Ross Dowling

Second Advisor

Dr Dale Sanders

Abstract

Long distance trails have substantial infrastructure due to their length and provision of overnight shelters. Length and remoteness impact negatively on travel time for access, resulting in high maintenance costs. Additionally, as government budgets are declining globally, funding for trails can be difficult to source, leaving infrastructure to deteriorate.

This research investigated how long distance trails are managed, specifically from the perspective of a tourism product in a natural protected area. Global case studies were based on site visits and interviews with trail managers around the world, as well as a review of written documentation. Through comparative analysis the components of trail management were identified, such as funding, volunteering, governance, partnerships, conservation, infrastructure and tourism. These components were then analysed within the context of their political, social and environment settings. This research investigated trails internationally: Australia - Munda Biddi Trail; New Zealand - Nga Haerenga; United States of America - Arizona Trail, Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail; United Kingdom - West Highland Way; Germany/Austria - Lechweg; Europe - E-Paths; South Africa - Rim of Africa Trail and South Korea - Jeju Olle Trail.

Four business approaches to the governance of trails were identified through the analysis of trail components and the application of Eagles’ (2008a, 2009) governance model for tourism in protected areas. The four approaches are: business, community, volunteering and conservation; each based on their purpose, governing body, income, staffing, and mode of operation across tenure, among other criteria. The most financially sustainable model is the community approach, which involves a partnership between government and a not-for-profit organisation. It extends the income stream options and reduces overheads through the use of volunteers for maintenance. The level of infrastructure liability directly correlates with expense and is therefore a limiting factor for financial sustainability. Tourism strategies, such as marketing, promotion, and product and destination development, further extend the trail’s financial sustainability by maximising user numbers and partnering with businesses. This also increases regional economic benefits and improves the user experience. Transferability, generalisation and theory building of the research findings are refutable due to the small case study, but nevertheless it will fill a gap in the literature and provide ideas, concepts and governance models for trail managers to improve their trail’s financial sustainability.

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