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The role of central government in tourism: A public choice perspective

O'Fallon, Carolyn E.
Fields of Research
Very few meta-theoretical frameworks have been applied to the field of tourism studies despite the vast amount of literature produced. In this thesis a public choice theoretical framework is applied to tourism to evaluate central government roles in providing tourism-related goods, services and amenities. Public choice theory provides several rationales for government involvement in providing certain goods, as well as explanations of why government roles exceed those that would normally be considered optimal in terms of the theory. These explanations are largely based on the premise that individuals—namely politicians, bureaucrats, and those with special interests—act rationally to maximise their self-interest in all activities, including those carried out by central government. Tourism-related products are defined and a typology, based on their characteristics while being consumed, is developed. A framework is constructed to assess the role of government in tourism generally. This framework is used to survey and critique central government involvement, in 1989, in producing tourism related goods in New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Singapore. In addition, the changing government roles in New Zealand from 1989-1992 are described and analysed, particularly since one basis of the changes was the adoption and implementation by central government of an analytical framework incorporating public choice theory. Conclusions are drawn about the usefulness of public choice theory in analysing the provision of tourism-related goods by central government.
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