Short-term versus long-term approaches to the development of tourism-related policies

Dianne Dredge

Research output: Working paperCommissionedpeer-review

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Tourism policy development is an increasingly complex activity involving multiple public sector agencies, industry and community stakeholders and non-government organisations at different scales. This discussion paper examines the implications for tourism of governments adopting short- term versus long-term approaches to the development of tourism related policies and identifies policy considerations to maximize the growth potential of tourism. The key issue is to understand how governments can strengthen their support for tourism growth and development by taking an integrated cross-sector policy approach.

The discussion paper commences by examining the unique character of tourism policyscape and recognises that it involves a wide variety of inter-linked policy sectors that often operate and develop policies in separate policy processes. Little attention is placed on cross-sector policy interactions and interdependencies that affect policy outcomes over the long term.

The discussion paper then examines institutional arrangements for tourism policy, observing that industrial policy approaches have tended to dominate tourism policy. These industrial approaches focus on stimulus measures to increase tourism productivity (i.e. visitors and visitor nights, yield and length of stay), and do not generally take a wider strategic perspective that leverages policy inter-linkages (complementarities and trade-offs) between tourism and other policy sectors.
Tourism policy complementarities emerge when policies in different sectors mutually reinforce each other to collectively produce higher returns than each policy would generate individually. Trade-offs occur when policies produce potentially inconsistent or conflicting outcomes and a strategic trade-off is required to maximise tourism benefits. A long-term approach to tourism policy would leverage policy inter-linkages between tourism and, for example, land use planning, infrastructure policy, environmental management, health and safety policy, and emergency management. This approach does not simply seek short-term outcomes to stabilize, adjust or re- orientate to new tourism market opportunities, but over the long-term, contributes to stronger, more competitive, innovative and resilient destinations.

The discussion paper explores examples of policy inter-linkages between tourism and land use planning, transport and emergency management and takes the position that this long-term approach is about securing the longevity of tourism as an economic and social force by focusing on policy synergies to improve aspects such as destination resilience and competitiveness, environmental sustainability, industry innovation and strategic improvements to productivity.

The discussion paper concludes by identifying policy considerations and potential actions that can assist in leveraging tourism policy inter-linkages.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherOrganisation for Economic Cooporation and Development, OECD
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This working paper contributed to the OECD Tourism Paper 2015/01 "A Review of Effective Policies for Tourism Growth"


  • tourism policy
  • tourism management
  • policy analysis
  • policy ecologies

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