The end of participatory destination governance as we thought to know it

Paper by Eva C. Erdmenger: “In response to rising anti-tourism movements, the role of residents in destination governance has experienced a revival in tourism research. Participatory destination governance approaches have been advocated as problem-solvers for increasing conflicts, yet their implementation is still lacking. Besides a considerable amount of positivist research drafting the best participatory governance model, the socially constructed perspective of those who are supposed to participate has been widely neglected until now. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to reveal residents’ views on participating in tourism activities and destination governance processes. In pursuit of this, a mixed qualitative research method of focus groups and photo elicitation has been deployed in Copenhagen and Munich in 2020 following a social constructionist epistemology. The findings confirm that residents are not willing to participate in destination governance per se due to a lack of time, access, awareness, prioritization, knowledge, qualification, and opportunities. At the same time, residents were interested in a socio-cultural exchange with like-minded tourists and are generally proud to share their city. Ultimately, the perspectives of residents on tourism should be considered for the implementation of an inclusive urban destination governance. Via psychological, political, and social empowerment, destination governance should foster residents’ (1) motivation to connect with other city users (including tourists); (2) opportunity to influence local tourism development if they are affected by it; and (3) ability to benefit from local tourism (at least indirectly). Ultimately, by understanding how and to what extent residents’ are actually willing to participate in tourism and its governance enables tourism professionals to proactively realize a more resilient destination development while mitigating potential social conflicts caused by the renaissance of (over)tourism…(More)”.