The Delphi method as a tool for building a vision of the future of tourism development in the Podlaskie Voivodeship

Danuta Szpilko

Abstract


Purpose. The main aim of this article is to identify the vision of the future of tourism development in the Podlaskie Voivodeship.

For the achievement of this purpose, the Delphi method was used. This is a qualitative method combining the knowledge and opinions of experts in order to reach an informed consensus on a complex issue (Linstne, Turoff, 1975; Veal, 1992; Weber, Ladkin, 2003). H. Linstone and M. Turoff (2002) define it as a structured group communication process aiming to ensure the operational effectiveness of an independent community of people who as a group strive to solve a complex issue. This objective is achieved by using iterative rounds, during which experts are supplied with questionnaires interleaved with feedback from the preceding rounds (Powell, 2003; Briedenhann, Butts, 2006).

Methodology. The research process, using the Delphi method, consisted of 4 main phases: preparatory phase, pilot study, proper study, analysis of the results. In order to implement the first stage, 42 experts from the broadly understood tourism sector in the Podlaskie Voivodeship were invited to participate in a panel. Among them were the representatives of science, business, government, non-governmental organizations, protected areas, cultural institutions and the media. As a result of the works, the experts formulated a total of 36 Delphi theses, from which 12 theses were accepted for the further research process after consultations. A research questionnaire was also developed.

In the second phase, a pilot study was conducted on a selected group of experts and stakeholders, through which the questionnaire was tested in terms of its clarity and unambiguousness. In the third phase, the proper study was conducted. The first round of the research was attended by 60 experts and stakeholders from the tourism sector in Podlaskie Voivodeship. Then, a collective summary of results (together with selected opinions of respondents justifying their judgment) from the first round was prepared. In the second round, the respondents filled out the same questionnaire, where they had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the collective findings and the selected opinions of the experts from the first round of the study, enabling them to maintain or change their opinion. In the fourth phase, the final analysis of the results was performed.

Results. Within the framework of the conducted study, the relevance and the timeline for the implementation 12 theses included in the 5 study areas were determined: innovative products and tourism services; tourist entrepreneurship in the region; cultural and natural heritage; tourist infrastructure of the region; regional tourism policy; science, research and development in the region. Also, the assessment of their socio-economic effects, the analysis of the capacity needed for their implementation and the identification of the problems and challenges related with them were performed.

All the theses were highly rated in terms of their significance in the development of tourism in the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Among the 12 theses, the experts identified 5 as "important" and 7 as "somewhat important". 2 theses belonging to the areas of cultural and natural heritage and the tourism infrastructure in the region were recognized as strategic for the development of tourism. The other 9 theses, were determined as having a somewhat lower level of strategic significance. Its absence was attributed to one thesis in the area of tourist entrepreneurship in the region. Experts and stakeholders, in the case of 9 theses, indicated the years 2016-2030 as the most likely time for their implementation. In the case of 3 theses, despite the indication of their high and relatively high significance for the development of tourism the Experts found that they will never be realized in the Podlaskie Voivodeship.

The theoretical contribution. The conducted study with the use of the Delphi method constitutes a new approach to the design of the future of regional development in the field of tourism in Poland.

Practical implications. The results of the study allowed to indicate future trends of the development of tourism in the Podlaskie Voivodeship within a specified period of time. They provide a picture of the achievable future, which will allow for rapid development in the field of tourism.

Keywords: the Delphi method, tourism, vision of the future, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland.

Paper type: Research paper.


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