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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Making homes not houses: a community economic development approach to tourism planning on Haida Gwaii/the Queen Charlotte Islands Gram, Claire


The purpose of this thesis is to explore the opportunities and constraints of a community economic development approach to tourism planning using the case study of Haida Gwaiil/the Queen Charlotte Islands. This thesis will be useful for tourism planners seeking an alternative approach to tourism development and for CED practitioners interested in how tourism can fit into an overall community economic development plan. Finding alternatives to mainstream tourism planning is increasingly important as many communities are now looking to tourism to fill gaps left in their economies from the decline of more traditional resource-based industries. Planning is the process of trying to put development theories into practice in order to control, or at least influence, future events in our favour. How we approach tourism planning will depend on the development theory to which we subscribe. There are three different approaches to development as they are reflected in tourism planning in the post war period. The first is mainstream development, the second is an ‘impact critique’ and finally, community economic development. In January 19911 was contracted by the Queen Charlotte Is1ands Regional Economic Development Initiative to work (amongst other things) with a citizen’s committee involved with developing a tourism plan for the Islands. The tourism plan began as a mainstream planning exercise concerned only with economic growth. However, as Islanders became more involved it switched first to an impact critique approach and finally to a full CED model. The CED-oriented plan has not yet been completed so in chapter 4 I have delineated what such a plan might look like extrapolating from the materials gathered throughout the process so that we can better evaluate its merits. What I found was that CED does indeed offer an useful alternative approach to tourism planning for some rural communities. It allows for the community to enhance the quality of life for residents, it identifies the special needs of local businesses to compete with outside agents, and it engages people in an educative process which enhances the ability of the community to manage the process once the planning is completed. Still, it is not without its own limitations. The amount of local control existing is seldom adequate for the management of a CED oriented plan. It is likely to bring less money into the economy. It is a difficult and challenging process and requires a significant commitment by the community both in finances and time. Finally, by considering tourism in isolation from other sectors and issues one loses the advantage an integrated community economic development approach.

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