Using volunteer-employed photography to inform tourism planning decisions; the case study of St David’s peninsula in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Nika Balomenou

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Tourism planning is widely regarded as being highly political, especially as tourism is usually one of a number of land-use options. The community at the destination level is at the receiving end of pressures caused by tourism development. In most cases, there are several interested parties trying to exert an influence on the tourism planning process. However, it is argued that the winners are most often those with the power. In this light, it is considered necessary to develop tourism planning tools that promote participation. The medium of photography is arguably more sensitive to the multidimensional nature of place experiences than is written text or the spoken word. A number of researchers have used volunteer-employed photography (VEP) methods such as photovoice and autophotography, all of which asked real-life protagonists to express their thoughts and feelings through photographs. However, despite the large number of researchers who have suggested that VEP is a powerful technique, it still remains underused, undervalued and relatively under-researched. The case study examined in this thesis was carried out on St David’s Peninsula in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales. The area was chosen because of its National Park status, which means that it attracts very high visitor numbers, planning regulations are stricter and conflict between the area user groups is evident. Two user groups, locals and tourists, were given cameras and photo diaries, and were asked to capture what they do and do not appreciate about the area. They were also invited to make planning suggestions regarding existing problems or suggest ways to avoid potential problems. This thesis examines the appropriateness of VEP in assisting tourism planning and demonstrates this by applying VEP to the case study area. The results of the case study demonstrate depth and richness in the dataset and present an experiential technique that can be of great value to the tourism planning process by involving host communities and visitors in the process. Valuable information for tourism planners was collected: natural and built resources were evaluated, strengths, weaknesses and problems and conflict of interests discussed in depth, with the additional advantage of visually representing participants’ views. It is thus argued that VEP is a powerful tool that can be a significant addition to the toolkit for participatory tourism planning at the local level.
Original languageEnglish
Thesis sponsors
Award date11 Mar 2017
Place of PublicationAberystwyth
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2011


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