Tourism, economic development and governance : the case of Liverpool 1974-2000.
Urban tourism has never been more important, nor the issues it confronts more complex. The
aim of this study is to examine the tourism policy process within the context of governance
structures and economic restructuring in Liverpool.
The thesis argues that to research developments which are creating 'new' forms of urban
tourism there is a need to develop a governance perspective through a 'middle-order'
theoretical framework, applying key concepts from theories of urban entrepreneurialism
proposed by Harvey (1989) and especially, Jessop (1997, 1998) in order to understand the
dynamics of local change.
The analytical framework was used to review the history of tourism development in Liverpool
tracing the origins of tourism organisation since the county of Merseyside was created in
1974. In the period since, the thesis identifies three distinct phases of tourism policy which
reflect a response to the legacy of the industrial past and which are indicative of the shift from
government to governance. The first phase (1974-1986) represents the beginnings of a
tourism industry in Liverpool, signalling a shift from government to governance. The major
introduction of tourism to the local economy, in this period, emanated from the establishment
of the Merseyside County Council's Tourism Development Office in 1978 and the success of
three main Merseyside Development Corporation's initiatives in the early 1980s. These two
organisations were the first to initiate policies which encouraged new tourist attractions and
thus demonstrated the tourism potential of the city. However, it is the argument of the thesis
that the realisation that tourism could make a significant contribution to urban regeneration, in
this period, stemmed from a mixture of good reasoning, default and opportunism. The second
phase (1986-1994) represents the repositioning of tourism policy on the urban agenda. The
response was a proliferation of new agents of governance, and the shift towards public-private
partnerships gathered pace as the city increasingly attempted to compete for visitors,
investment, jobs and the regeneration of its physical infrastructure. The thesis argues that
during this period a space emerged which fitted most comfortably with unlocking resources
from higher levels of government and espousing a pro-growth tourism agenda. The final
phase (1994-2000) emerged with the introduction of EU Objective 1 structural funds. The
thesis argues that this new supranational tier of policy intervention complicated the
governance picture in Liverpool as intervention was now taking place at local, regional,
national and supranational levels. With so many new influences and bureaucracies involved
contests and tensions emerged between different tiers of governance with regard to the
effective working of tourism programmes. Nevertheless, the drive to prioritise
entrepreneurship and the pursuit of the new intensified as did the range of new tourism policy
initiatives and delivery mechanisms.
The thesis concludes with reflections on the theoretical approach and empirical findings, a
number of policy recommendations and proposals for future research.