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Tourism as a transformative economic agent in regional Australia: a case study of operators' use of social media

Eliza Vlasich (Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia)
Diane Lee (Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia)
Catherine Archer (Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 7 November 2022

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023

374

Abstract

Purpose

This study utilises a case study approach to explore how local tourism providers in the Shire of Collie, Western Australia (Collie), a coal-mining region, use social media to promote the providers' businesses and the destination.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews with 11 local, small business tourism providers were conducted. These interviews explored the use of social media from local tourism providers' perspectives.

Findings

The findings show that local tourism providers in Collie recognise the benefits of using social media for promotion, although there are some barriers when using social media. Barriers included insufficient time, difficulty in measuring the impact of social media and a lack of knowledge on how to use social media effectively. Participant benefits included reaching a wider audience and a “younger” demographic.

Research limitations/implications

As a small regional destination case study, a limited number of tourism businesses were included in the study. Therefore, this study utilised Dickman's 5 A's of a successful tourism destination to encapsulate a robust representation of tourism businesses.  

Social implications

This study details the experiences of local tourism providers in a rural destination, providing insight into using social media to market a rural tourist destination. The study provides a methodology for application to other rural tourist destinations, particularly emerging tourism destinations, in order to understand how local tourism providers use social media.

Originality/value

This study provides insights on local tourism providers' perspectives by detailing their experiences in a town and region transforming their tourism offering. The introduction of small-scale renewable energy sees mining communities' economic landscape changing. Further, opportunities for employment within the coal mining sector are declining and there is a need to develop new industry to support the economy. Tourism is an integral part of this transition in Collie. This study offers insights into how local tourism providers are adapting and utilising social media to promote the town's newly established tourism offerings.

Keywords

Citation

Vlasich, E., Lee, D. and Archer, C. (2023), "Tourism as a transformative economic agent in regional Australia: a case study of operators' use of social media", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 52-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-08-2022-0102

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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