The evolution and transformation of a tourism destination network: the Waitomo Caves, New Zealand


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Publication Date

January 2003


This paper examines the process of tourism destination evolution and transformation. The focus is on how the relationships between organisations can act as a self-organising mechanism for the destination, with fluidity and change being a critical component in this process. This paper uses network theory to express these dynamics, and it emphasises structural features of architectural density and centrality. Most particularly, the network approach illustrates how groupings of small firms within interdependent systems can be self-governing, and show how this process assists the destination in building tacit knowledge for competitive advantage that resides in the network structure. The case context for this illustration is an icon tourism destination in New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves. This tourism destination has undergone significant transformation over the last 15 years, from its single Glowworm Cave attraction to an interdependent network involving underground adventure caving activities. Because of this transformation, it provides a distinctive context to explore these fluid network processes.


Destinations, Networks, Strategy, Interorganisational Relationships, Management

Document Type



Tourism Management, Vol. 24, no. 2 (2003).