Tourism at cross-border destinations such as parks is an ever-growing phenomenon. Not only does tourism have a special relationship with borders but also do cross-border destinations call for collaboration between actors of different nations. Such collaborations often take the form of collaborative governance and are discussed in the academic literature for their many financial as well as non-financial beneficial aspects. This study investigated to what extent a cross-border Park made use of a collaborative governance approach and analyzed benefits created through that approach by answering the research question “What are quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits of the cross-border tourism governance approach created for the inhabitants of the Park?”. It is the first integrative study of quantifiable, financial data and unquantifiable, ethnographic data that has been conducted in a cross-border collaborative governance setting. It has been found that albeit stated in the academic literature on collaborative governance, no grand economic benefits in absolute terms could be obtained from that approach yet but that businesses and experts involved believe it will be financially beneficial at a later stage. Nevertheless, when compared to the total tourist expenditure, Park tourists’ expenditure did amount to a third of the total. Regarding unquantifiable benefits for businesses, extensive networking activities and hence synergy seeking and knowledge and skill transfer were among the most striking benefits. What can exclusively be attributed to employing a collaborative governance approach is the fact that only those who obtain the benefits actively make use of the participative mechanisms offered by the park and comply with certain aims that happen in service of the public. As for the unquantifiable benefits obtained by residents, the study found that besides benefitting from an overall shift towards a more sustainable and regionally based economy, benefits named in the academic literature such as stronger social cohesion and formation of one regional identity across municipal, regional and national boundaries could not be found.
Author: N. Eichenauer (2019)