Researching Tourism to the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, or how the Social Sciences can Collaborate in Researching Complex Problems

By Tod Jones and David Wood.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is an increasing recognition that development can bring with it complex problems, particularly when social and natural systems interact. This paper explores research methodologies that address such problems by utilising and integrating expertise from a number of different disciplines, and discusses how the social sciences can contribute. It does this by firstly analysing existing research methodologies and then through a detailed discussion of a research project that addresses sustainable tourism planning to the Ningaloo Coast, a remote tourist destination in Western Australia whose major attraction is a 300 kilometre long fringing coral reef. The paper identifies four features that are likely to become widespread within research projects that address issues of sustainable development: a common understanding of the dynamics of systems aimed at addressing complexity; an encouragement of group learning through collaboration; a pragmatic approach that aims to address problems facing managers and affected groups; and the incorporation of different disciplines as needed to address problems. The paper concludes by identifying how the social sciences can both be equipped to engage with large research projects that integrate a number of disciplines and strengthen such research approaches.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Research, Sustainable Tourism, Adaptive Management, Organisational Learning, Ningaloo Reef

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.137-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 558.786KB).

Dr. Tod Jones

Research Associate, Curtin Sustainable Tourism Centre, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Tod has undertaken research in a range of different areas including economic evaluation, wildlife tourism, natural area tourism cultural tourism and cultural policy in Indonesia. Currently, Tod’s research involves combining systems dynamics with sustainable tourism planning in participatory approaches to tourism planning. This research focuses on the Ningaloo Reef, an iconic tourism destination in Western Australia’s northwest that has recently become the focus of a world heritage application.

Prof. David Wood

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

David is Project Leader of the Ningaloo Destination Modelling project, Chair of the State’s Coastal Planning and Coordination Council, Deputy Chair of the Ningaloo Sustainable Development Committee and is a member of the Western Australian Planning Commission. He is a planning practitioner, a supervisor of doctoral students and an active researcher in the areas of coastal tourism, planning and development, and community participation. David’s research focus also includes economic and social valuation of tourism impacts, developed through his research in the Gascoyne area of Western Australia.


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