Policy Change and Tourism Policy in the United Kingdom

Posted on May 16, 2016


Along with Dr Samantha Chaperon, I have recently had a paper accepted for the 6th International Conference on Tourism, which is being held in Naples, Italy from 29th June to 2nd July this year.


The paper builds on our earlier joint work on UK tourism policy, and my own work in this area.  In our paper, we conduct a review of tourism policies in the UK between 1997-2015.  The abstract for our paper is below:

Under the New Labour government of 1997-2010, tourism policy in the United Kingdom was characterised by a high level of continuity between the policies of successive administrations.  Since 2010, the United Kingdom has had two different new governments. Each of these governments has launched a new tourism policy.  The Coalition government’s policy made fundamental changes to the funding and governance of tourism and the new Conservative government have enacted significant changes to the National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) for the United Kingdom and England.

This paper analyses the changes in the United Kingdom’s tourism policy between 1997-2015, using a combination of structural explanations based on exogenous factors and the perspective of punctuated equilibrium theory.  Research was conducted through content analysis of key policy and strategy documents including national tourism policies, policies of the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom, and other key documents such as NTO strategy documents and consultation records.  Although this study is based on the United Kingdom, the approach taken could be used to analyse periods of tourism policy change in other countries, especially those that have seen recent changes in government following the global economic crisis.

The paper concludes by showing that although structural explanations of tourism policy making are useful in examining the determinants of tourism policy at any given time, punctuated equilibrium theory helps to explain periods of change in tourism policy by drawing attention to the role of policy communities in setting policy problems and selecting potential solutions By utilising a theoretical approach that has not been applied widely in studies of tourism policy, but which has been used extensively in studies of other policy arenas, this paper shows the utility of incorporating theoretical perspectives from other parts of the policy studies literature when considering changes in tourism policy.  Recommendations are made towards the end of the paper for how this could be applied in future studies, including for international comparative analysis of tourism policy.