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Conflict in Natural Area Destinations: A Critique of Representation and ‘Interest' in Participatory Processes

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This paper addresses the notion of interests and interest-based participation in processes addressing conflict in environmentally sensitive tourism destinations. The dynamic and paradoxical character of the participatory space is illustrated through a micro-level, interpretive study of the Banff Bow Valley Round Table, a multi-sectoral initiative involving a diverse group of stakeholders in the international tourism destination and World Heritage Site of Banff National Park, Canada. Direct observation and interview data are used to examine environmental, business, resident, government and process managers' participation in this process. This study offers useful lessons on the challenges of using an interest-based, multi-stakeholder approach to manage conflict over use and development in protected areas. The constitutive nature of interests (as seen in the interest statement development process, and the participation of newly formed groups), identity politics and the diminishing circles of influence that extend from the main round table into the broader constituent base, indicate that greater attention needs to be paid to the dynamism of participation and the pressure-based nature of democracy in these collaborative processes. Considerations for process structuring, consensus decision-making and participation are offered in the paper to help manage the‘1front'and‘back'stages of the round table.

Keywords: Banff National Park; Interest representation; multi-stakeholder collaboration; tourism–environmental conflicts; visioning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Recreation Park and Tourism Sciences Texas A&M University, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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