An application of Butler's (1980) tourist area life cycle theory to the Cairns region, Australia, 1876-1998

Berry, Edward Norman (2000) An application of Butler's (1980) tourist area life cycle theory to the Cairns region, Australia, 1876-1998. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis)
Download (53MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Butler's (1980) Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) model is applied to the Cairns Region of North Queensland, Australia. Briefly, the theory states that the economy of resort regions will follow a life cycle characterised by six stages: "exploration", "involvement", "development", "consolidation", "stagnation" and then either "decline" or "rejuvenation". Butler suggested that tourist numbers be used for the "S" -shaped life cycle curve. Each stage is recognisable by a number of criteria.

The objectives of the project included further testing the model, particularly in relation to its use as a conceptual framework for analysis, for forecasting purposes and as a strategic planning tool. In addition, the research aimed to: significantly add to the body of empirical knowledge on TALC theory, especially in relation to the Cairns region; determine the timing of Butler's (1980) stages in the study region; and, work towards a more universal and streamlined approach for the general application of the model. In contrast to much of the TALC research in recent years, this project was designed to utilise Butler's original stages with no additions or subtractions. As a separate exercise, some of Haywood's (1986:161) and Cooper's (1990:63) suggestions were used as leading indicators to supplement TALC's forecasting ability and to verify its findings. Finally, the study addressed a number of criticisms and so-called " shortcomings" of Butler's theory (Haywood 1986; Getz 1992; Choy 1993; Williams 1993; Agarwal 1994).

The study covers the years 1876-1998, with the major emphasis on 1976-1998, a period ofrapid tourism industry expansion in the region. The study boundaries are the coastal shires of Cairns and Douglas and the tableland shires of Mareeba and Atherton. The basic "S"-shaped TALC curve was constructed using existing accommodation takings data. An unusual but successful questionnaire technique was used to obtain time-series information from the tourism industry for the period 1976-1998. Other data sources were an historical search covering the period prior to 1976, a newspaper search and published statistics for the period after 1976. Analysis followed a stage by stage format starting with Butler's (1980) "exploration" stage.

Butler's (1980) theory was found to be an excellent framework for analysis which, in conjunction with leading indicators, could be used for forecasting and strategic planning. The study contributed significantly to the body of TALC knowledge especially relating to Far North Queensland. The "exploration" stage in the region started in 1889 and continued until evidence of local involvement signified the start of the "involvement" stage in 1912. The latter stage was terminated by the opening of the Cairns International Airport in 1984 when the resulting influx of outside capital heralded the start of the "development" stage. The point of inflection of the TALC curve marked the start of the "consolidation" stage, which lasted until 1993 when "stagnation" stage criteria became dominant. By the end of the study period the TALC curve had just reached a peak, a necessary criteria of that stage. At that time, however, a number of "rejuvenation" stage criteria already existed, such as a large regional beautification project. There were also some "decline" stage characteristics, such as ownership and management reverting back to local control. In addition, critical factors such as the international airport which contributed to growth in the region were identified along with two major elements, without which substantial "rejuvenation" is unlikely to occur.

Contrary to previous TALC studies, this research found that the original model could be standardised and computerised to make it applicable to a wide range of applications. Suggestions were put forward from which specifications could be developed for a competent systems analyst to design an automated TALC model. The former included data collection and analysis methods and a technique to determine the timing of the stages according to Butler's (1980) theory. The main recommendation of this research is that the opportunity to implement these suggestions be taken up, thus providing a versatile model which wi11 have global implications.

Item ID: 56137
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Butler, Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC), Cairns Region, North Queensland, exploration, involvement, development, consolidation, stagnation, rejuvenation, decline, life cycles, tourism, strategic planning, econometric models
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2000 Edward Norman Berry
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2018 05:27
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150699 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 2429
Last 12 Months: 95
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page