Weaving the future of Asian city tourism: drivers and implications

Lee, Louisa Yee-Sum (2016) Weaving the future of Asian city tourism: drivers and implications. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The principal aim of this thesis is to explore the future of Asian city tourism. Cities have become popular tourism destinations and have been gaining ground in scholarly research. Limited theoretical grounding about tourism functions in cities sparked this investigation. The aims are two-fold: identifying the major drivers shaping the tourism future of Asian cities; and building a conceptual model steering the future of Asian cities. The pragmatism paradigm best suits this investigation due to the complex nature of cities and the flexibility in research techniques that the paradigm provides.

Chapter 1 presents an introduction to the research domain. This chapter covers an overview of literature on cities and tourism, the significance of city tourism, shortcomings of existing scholarly literature, and definitions of key terminology. Taking a forward-looking perspective, the key drivers shaping the future of Asian city tourism and the research methods used for futurology study are reported. Research opportunities informed by the knowledge gaps conclude the chapter. Chapter 2 showcases the theoretical background of the thesis. A critical assessment of general tourism destination development models, and contemporary tourism thinking about cities and tourism, set the scene for theoretical discourse. Two conceptual schemes, the time-space theory and quadruple bottom line of sustainability, are adopted to make sense of the future of city tourism.

Research methodology is delineated in Chapter 3. Guided by the pragmatism paradigm, mixed methods were utilized to achieve the aims. Case study and grounded theory were chosen as the research strategies. A quantitative study was utilized to strategically select the case study cities. A tourism city similarity matrix was proposed, given the absence of readily available methods for comparing cities. Adopting an approach of building research-informed objective and comprehensive measures, the matrix incorporated five dimensions measuring the performance of key tourism and hospitality sectors in tourism cities. These dimensions included the tourism, hotels, aviation, MICE, and gaming sectors, with a total of 17 attributes. Multidimensional scaling analysis was performed to identify the overall degree of similarity of cities. The Asian cities, Bangkok and Hong Kong were chosen as case study locales after performing three-rounds of analysis.

The qualitative study is highlighted in Chapters 4 and 5. In-depth interview and document analysis were the data collection and analysis methods. Twenty-eight interviews with the key informants from public and private sectors across the three case study cities were performed. Document analysis was used to reveal the historical background of the contexts and offer supplementary information to the interviews. Scholarly and grey literatures were both considered as valid and useful information.

With reference to the time-space theory, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 considered Asian tourism cities' development from the past to the present, and from the present to the future respectively. Chapter 4 introduced the historical background, city evolution, urbanization and tourism development in the three case study locations. Interviewees' insights on the past drivers that shaped the present landscape of tourism cities were featured. Fifteen major drivers were identified. For the sake of logical presentation, the drivers were subsumed into the STEEP analysis, including social, technological, economic, environmental and political categories. Political and social drivers were seen as the two cardinal drivers according to interviewees. Research findings demonstrated a strong tie to the time-space theory. Following the footprint of time, tourism cities offered geographical centrality in terms of resources and activities. The historical past served as important building block for the development of tourism cities in the present and the future.

Chapter 5 explored the present drivers that may shape the future. The interview-informed drivers were framed under the quadruple bottom line of sustainability. Nativism and human resources are anticipated to drive a socially sustainable future. Infrastructure is vital for economic sustainability, while liveability is prominent in achieving environmental sustainability. The interviews also revealed that upholding legitimacy is profoundly important in ensuring governance sustainability. This research reveals a new pattern of tourism cities. Asian tourism cities have gradually emerged as strategic nodes for the new types of operations: the findings note the prominence of cross-border economic dynamics and cities gaining visibility as individual entities.

The concluding chapter, Chapter 6, provides a synthesis of the entire thesis. A conceptual model was built to showcase the interplay of the two conceptual schemes in Asian cities' tourism future. This model weaved together the research findings, the conceptual schemes, critical evaluation of destination development models and contemporary thinking on city and tourism. The chapter also underscores the theoretical significance and limitations of this research, and makes recommendations for future studies.

Item ID: 46480
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Asia; Asian city tourism; Bangkok; cities; conceptual schemes; drivers; Hong Kong; sustainable tourism; tourism development; tourism planning; tourism; urbanization
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 02:51
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1599 Other Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 159999 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 70%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services @ 30%
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