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Local Engagement in Economic Development and Industrial Collaboration around Australia's Gunbarrel Highway

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The four-wheel drive (4WD) tourism market has been identified as an important one for desert Australia. The market appears to be relatively large and likely to continue to grow in the foreseeable future. Desert 'tracks' are the core attraction for 4WD tourists, allowing them to disperse from the major road networks and service centres. While this presents an opportunity for economic development, little is currently known about the economic organization of tracks, and particularly how they contribute to local economies. This research maps out some aspects of economic activity around the Gunbarrel Highway to explore the extent to which local entrepreneurship and collaboration is apparent. The research shows that the 4WD market is unlikely to respond in the same way as other drive tourism markets to the introduction of new products and infrastructure, and there is a risk that local economic benefits from this activity will continue to be marginal. There appears to be little advantage taken of potential opportunities to diversify the market through collaborative arrangements.

Keywords: 4WD tourism; Tourism; collaboration; desert tourism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Tourism Research Group, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia 2: School for Social and Policy Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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