The collaborative relationship between transport and tourism in Scottish islands: from policy to practice
Currie, C. (2014) The collaborative relationship between transport and tourism in Scottish islands: from policy to practice, no. 411.
Despite a ubiquitous interest, the concept of collaboration remains elusive. Regardless, the pervasiveness of discourse pertaining to it continues to infiltrate policy as public sector reform advocates for behaviour and practice driven by an ethos of “joining-up”. The interdependency of the transport-tourism relationship provides an opportunity to consider collaboration in a context where the benefits of integration can be substantial. Within island domains the reliance of tourism economies on efficient transport systems is intensified. Consequently this research presents an analysis of the scope, role and nature of collaboration between industries whose sustainability is to a large extent symbiotic and critical to local prosperity. A review of the literature demonstrates a lack of focus on research pertaining to a stakeholder perspective of the transport-tourism relationship. Within the island environment, studies on this scenario of cross-industry engagement further diminish although the argument expressing the significance of transport in tourism is vociferous. Gaps were also identified in the conceptualisation of collaboration inhibiting a universal definition and thus a comprehensive understanding. The primary research adopted a qualitative approach. Data was collected through a series of semi-structured interviews from stakeholders across transport and tourism who fulfilled pre-considered criteria. The key findings identify constraints to collaboration in the form of structural disparity while divergent industry objectives further impede practical integration. Despite this, the role of “islandness” neutralises barriers to engagement. The propensity to cultivate social capital within these boundaried geographies provides an environment naturally conducive to the creation of collaborative capacity. Consensual development of shared goals between collaborating parties manifested as intrinsic for the purpose of buy-in and commitment throughout the collaborative process. Similarly, an absence of leadership in practice resulted in highlighting the fundamental role it delivers within collaboration. The empirical findings provide both practical and theoretical contribution. Further they present policy-makers with evidence-informed suggestions to address impediments which prevent the practice of collaboration.