Tourism Geographies, 2013
Vol. 15, No. 1, 25–42, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2012.675513
Collaboration and Partnership
Development for Sustainable Tourism
Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Abstract For many years, the need to improve sustainability in the tourism industry has
been widely recognized. Many destinations have attempted to move toward sustainability, but
unfortunately, have been hindered in their attempts by a lack of collaboration among stake-
holders that is necessary to support their sustainability agendas. Collaboration, speciﬁcally
through multi-stakeholder partnerships, has been seen as an effective way to support initia-
tives in tourism development. Through the lens of Gray’s collaboration theory and Selin and
Chavez’s tourism partnership model, the success of collaboration and partnerships in tourism
development on the island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, will be examined. Through a multi-
method approach consisting of an environmental audit and semi-structured interviews, this
paper explores the implementation of a multi-stakeholder partnership. The partnership that
has been developed, called the Gili Ecotrust, provides an example of successful collaboration,
leading to the implementation of innovative sustainability initiatives on the island.
Key Words: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, stakeholder engagement, partnerships, eco-tax,
sustainable tourism, islands, sustainable tourism
The island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, is a destination that is primarily focused
on dive tourism and is currently in the growth stage and rapidly moving toward the
consolidation stage of its tourism lifecycle. For many years, Gili Trawangan was
primarily underdeveloped; however in the span of the last decade, the selling of
land to Westerners has resulted in rapid development. The island community, which
is composed of mostly Westerners and local Indonesians, has become increasingly
concerned with the state of the environment on the island. Gili Trawangan and
its sister islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, are located in an area with a great deal of
marine diversity. The islands are currently located in the West Nusa Dua Marine Park,
however this has been largely in name only and has not resulted in any involvement
from the provincial government that has authority over the marine park. Despite its
marine park status, there has been no implementation of initiatives by the marine park
Correspondence Address: Dr Sonya Graci, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,
Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2K3, Canada. Fax: 4169795285; Tel.:
4169795000 x6696; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 Taylor & Francis
26 S. Graci
to protect the increasingly threatened marine diversity. Increasing trafﬁc from boats,
improper anchoring, rapid development on the island and overuse through ﬁshing,
diving and glass bottom boats has led to the fast decline of the marine environment.
Tourism development has led to the degradation of the coral reefs, beach erosion and
a large amount of rubbish littering the island. Illegal building on the beach and lack
of planning has resulted in overcrowding and pressure on the existing infrastructure.
In order to combat the effects of tourism development and maintain some ecological
integrity on the island, a multi-stakeholder partnership was implemented in 2002. It
is through this partnership that the island has attempted to move the sustainability
agenda forward. This paper will focus on the progression of this partnership to
illustrate how a successful collaboration can be established.
Tourism is often described as one of the world’s largest industries on the basis of
its contribution to global gross domestic product (GDP), the number of jobs it gen-
erates and the number of people it transports. Developing countries currently have
only a minority share of the international tourism market (approximately 30%), with
this number continuing to grow. International tourism arrivals in developing coun-
tries have grown by an average of 9.5% per year since 1990, compared with 4.6%
worldwide (Tearfund 2002). In many Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs), tourism is
signiﬁcant to the economy and is generally growing (Tearfund 2002). The contribu-
tion that tourism makes to national economies is also far more pronounced in LDCs
(United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] 2006). As many authors
and government reports have outlined (World Travel and Tourism Council [WTTC]
1995, 1999; Weaver 2001; UNWTO 2005; Goeldner & Ritchie 2006) and recent
events (hurricanes, tropical storms, 2004 Tsunami) have demonstrated, there is a
need to move toward more sustainable forms of development to ensure long-term
viability. Many small islands, particularly those with warm climates, depend heavily
on sun, sea and sand as tourist attractions, and it is these resources that their industries
have traditionally been based upon. Many of the problems that small islands face re-
late directly to their insular geography and fragile environmental characteristics (Kerr
2005; Scheyvens & Momsen 2008), and although they are beneﬁting from increased
economic gain from tourism, they are also experiencing many negative environmen-
tal, economic and social consequences. Some of the issues and impacts affecting
destinations include dependency of a host community’s economy on tourism; com-
petition; leakage; government debt to ﬁnance development; loss of habitat areas
and resources due to development and pollution; decline in biodiversity of species
and ecosystems; erosion; loss of natural and archeological heritage in the face of
rapid expansion; sea, land, noise and air pollution; increased congestion and strains
on infrastructure; encroachment of buildings, facilities and roads to the coastline,
crowding and pressure on services; and displacement of the local population (Graci
Collaboration and Partnership Development 27
& Dodds 2010). The characteristic complexities related to planning, development and
management in island destinations give rise to resource management and governance
issues, particularly relating to the potential success of sustainable development plan-
ning and strategies (Douglas 2006; Scheyvens & Russell 2012). It is important for
small island states, dependent on tourism, to take control and manage their tourism
industries. Far too many islands are facing detrimental effects from poor planning and
governance. Many islands are facing beach erosion, water pollution, waste manage-
ment issues, energy crises, coral reef destruction, acculturation and leakage (Graci
& Dodds 2010). Strategies to inﬂuence tourism development can and have been im-
plemented in some small islands with success. In order to overcome the challenges
with managing island destinations in a sustainable manner, innovative initiatives can
help to identify practical ways in which to move forward. Innovative initiatives can
consist of varying forms, and in several destinations have enabled the progression of
sustainability through the principles of long-term planning, collaboration, education,
the conception of dialogue and creating a cohesive vision for the destination. To move
toward sustainability, island destinations require the participation of the local people,
the deﬁnition of long-term strategies, a carefully designed tourism plan, intensive
capacity building and training of both national public ofﬁcials and management in
the destination and infrastructure support (Hashimoto 2002; Fennell 2003; UNWTO
2006; Graci & Dodds 2010).
Collaboration is considered to be essential in moving the tourism industry to-
ward sustainability. Throughout the literature, cross-sector partnerships are recom-
mended for their likelihood to result in sustainable development outcomes (Selin
1999; Bramwell & Alletorp 2001; Bramwell & Lane 2005). A central role for sus-
tainable destination management involves bringing together different organizations in
order to establish common goals and create a framework for joint action (Berresford
2004). The UNWTO revealed that public–private partnerships are the key principle
for successful destination management (Foggin & M¨
unster 2003). Participants that
have traditionally acted in isolation from each other need to learn how to cooperate
(Halme 2001). As no one organization does, or can deliver tourism development, a
collaborative multi-stakeholder approach is necessary.
Collaboration through partnerships is described as a loosely coupled system of
organizations and individuals that belong to various public and private sectors, who
come together in order to reach certain goals, unattainable by the partners individ-
ually (Selin 1999; Fadeeva 2005). Collaboration is deﬁned by Gray (1989: 5) as ‘a
process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can construc-
tively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own
limited vision of what is possible.’ Therefore, a collaborative alliance is an inter-
organizational effort to address problems too intricate to be effectively resolved by
independent action (Gray & Wood 1991). Collaboration is the evolving process of
alliances working together in a problem domain (Gray 1989; Medeiros de Araujo &
Bramwell 2002; Plummer et al. 2006; Jamal & Stronza 2009). The process has the
28 S. Graci
potential to allow organizations to pool their knowledge, share expertise, capital and
other resources (Plummer et al. 2006). The groups working together may therefore
gain a competitive advantage. In addition, policies, implementation and enforcement
of plans and regulations resulting from collaboration may be more accepted by indi-
viduals and organizations who were involved in creating them (Medeiros de Araujo
& Bramwell 2002). It has also been argued that this practice of collaboration is part
of a moral obligation to involve affected parties throughout any decision-making
processes (Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002).
An inclusive collaborative approach has the ability to create social capital and
thus contributes to the development of more sustainable forms of tourism (Kernel
2005). As indicated by Carbone (2005), a true partnership between the producer (the
environment, the local culture and the people), the supplier (the tourism industry) and
the consumer (the tourist) is critical for integrating community needs with the sus-
tainable use of the environment while providing proﬁts to the stakeholders involved.
It is through partnerships that organizations, government and communities are able
to collectively address concerns and determine mutually agreed upon objectives that
will beneﬁt all stakeholders involved, thus embarking on a more sustainable approach
to tourism development. The purpose of a partnership is to eventually produce con-
sensus and harmony that will lead to new opportunities and innovative solutions.
Partnerships must include the views of all stakeholders within a destination and
identify various roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder so that they can con-
tribute to the overarching goal of moving the destination toward a more sustainable
management of tourism. The key elements of a partnership are that all
•stakeholders are interdependent;
•solutions emerge by dealing constructively with difference;
•joint ownership of decisions is involved;
•stakeholders assume collective responsibility for the future direction of the domain;
•partnerships remain a dynamic, emergent process (Gray 1989: 11 in Selin 1999:
These key elements are the underlying principles for a multi-stakeholder partnership,
which provides a cohesive environmental vision, enabling the tourism destination to
focus resources, share information, increase environmental and social action in the
destination, learn from the leaders and ultimately protect the resources that sustain
the destination. Collaboration leads to the sharing and implementing of ideas as well
as creative methods to deal with solutions.
Gray (1996: 61–65) outlined a three-phase framework for the collaboration process.
The ﬁrst phase, for problem setting, requires that multiple stakeholders agree on what
the problem is, and that the problem is important enough to work with others to ﬁnd
a solution. In addition, this phase must ensure that all stakeholders are included to
Collaboration and Partnership Development 29
fully understand the process. If key stakeholders are excluded from this phase, Gray
argues that this could cause technical or political problems during the implementation
phase of collaboration (Gray 1989; Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002; Jamal &
Stronza 2009). The second phase, of direction setting, focuses on establishing rules,
groups and agreements between the stakeholders. In addition, phase two requires
the exploration of options through discussing the interests and values of each group,
then ﬁnally reaching an agreement to proceed with a particular course of action
(Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002; Jamal & Stronza 2009). The last phase
of collaboration sees the implementation of the chosen course of action, requiring
support and structure, including monitoring for compliance (Medeiros de Araujo &
Bramwell 2002; Jamal & Stronza 2009).
Although collaboration theory has many potential advantages, there are some im-
portant difﬁculties and obstacles involved. Collaboration requires frequent and regular
meetings involving discussion and decision-making with various individuals or orga-
nizations (Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002). This type of demanding schedule
can be problematic for many who wish to be involved. It is possible that ﬁnancial
and time constraints can be difﬁcult to overcome, creating a barrier to participation in
regular meetings (Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002). Therefore, certain groups
may dislike or refuse to work together thereby hindering the collaboration process
(Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002; Jamal & Stronza 2009).
The application of collaboration theory in tourism planning, management and de-
velopment has become very prevalent over the past decade to help manage emerging
environmental issues: climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion and im-
pacts from globalization (Selin 1999; Plummer et al. 2006; Jamal & Stronza 2009).
Since tourism is a complex industry that impacts several groups (Hardy & Beeton
2001; Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell 2002; Jamal & Stronza 2009), this poses a
challenge in terms of implementing collaboration (Medeiros de Araujo & Bramwell
2002). Speciﬁcally in tourism, each group will differ in terms of their interests at
a local, regional or national scale as well as their inﬂuence over decision-making
(Jamal & Stronza 2009).
Selin and Chavez (1995) developed a model of the evolution of tourism partnerships
based on Gray’s seminal work. They proposed that tourism partnerships progress
through ﬁve stages: antecedents, problem setting, direction setting, structuring and
outcomes (Selin & Chavez 1995; Plummer et al. 2006). Figure 1 outlines Selin and
Chavez (1995) tourism partnership model.
Selin and Chavez’s (1995) model begins with an antecedent that causes the partner-
ship to be initiated. Crisis, such as serious marine biodiversity loss in a dive tourism
destination, is frequently an antecedent that initiates tourism partnerships. In addition
to a crisis, a broker or convener may initiate the process. From this environmental
context, partnerships evolve through problem setting, direction setting and structur-
ing, resulting in the outcomes of the partnership (Selin & Chavez 1995). Throughout
this model, it is evident that a common vision among stakeholders is an important
30 S. Graci
Figure 1. Tourism partnership model. Source: Selin and Chavez 1995: 848.
aspect of tourism partnership formation. Existing professional or social networks
helps naturally develop relationships and expand their past or present work toward
the goals of the partnership (Selin & Chavez 1995). A strong-willed, enthusiastic
leader is often the catalyst for partnership development in tourism, as are incentives
(including grants) and the vested interest of stakeholders (Selin & Chavez 1995).
Areas that are likely to experience successful partnership development have a strong
sense of community, which helps motivate participation in the partnership (Selin &
Chavez 1995). Small islands are thought to be ideal settings for partnership collab-
oration as they commonly have a strong sense of community, along with existing
Collaboration through partnership development involves initiating dialogue and
creating relationships between stakeholders in order to tackle a common issue. Each
stakeholder brings forth individual strengths such as knowledge, expertise and capital,
and is more effective as part of a joint effort rather than an individual one. By working
together, stakeholders can exchange information, learn from one another, develop
innovative policies, adapt successfully to a changing environment and channel energy
toward a collective good (Carr et al. 1998; Kernel 2005).
This paper utilizes Gray’s (1989) collaboration theory and Selin and Chavez’s
(1995) model to examine collaboration in tourism development on the island of Gili
Trawangan, Indonesia. On this island, they have utilized stakeholder engagement and
planning to develop a multi-stakeholder partnership aimed at addressing sustainabil-
ity, resulting in success with the implementation of several innovative initiatives.
Gili Trawangan is a small island located among the Gili Islands, off the coast of
Lombok in Indonesia, in a designated marine protected area, the West Nusa Dua
Collaboration and Partnership Development 31
Figure 2. Map of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. Source: Graci and Dodds 2010: 122.
Marine Park. Figure 2 identiﬁes the location of Gili Trawangan in relation to other
islands in Indonesia.
Gili Trawangan is approximately three by two kilometers in area, has low-lying
topography with a small hill to the south, rising to 72 meters above sea level (Hamp-
ton 1998). Gili Trawangan is the most developed of all three Gili Islands (the other
two islands being the newly developed Gili Air and the mostly undeveloped Gili
Meno). Gili Trawangan has an approximate population of 474 families, composed
of roughly 1,900 local people, along with numerous expatriates living on the island
(Graci 2007). The majority of land use on the island is related to tourism, with the re-
mainder being coconut plantation and small ﬁelds of agricultural crops and livestock.
In recent years, however, the majority of undeveloped land is quickly being sold and
developed, drastically increasing the amount of people who live and visit the island.
Gili Trawangan is a sun, sand and sea destination, with tourism being the dominant
32 S. Graci
economic activity on the island, as more than 80% of the families on Gili Trawangan
are employed by tourism in some form (Graci 2007). The main tourism season is
June–September with smaller peaks in December, January and February (Hampton
1998; Graci 2007). Gili Trawangan is not a very developed tourism destination in
terms of mass tourism resorts, infrastructure or services. The main tourists on Gili
Trawangan are backpackers and dive tourists, but as the island is rapidly develop-
ing and more accommodations are being built, this is changing. Previously there
were only two high-end resorts and few mid-level accommodations on the island,
but as of 2010, several new mid- and high-end small-scale accommodations were
being built. Island transportation consists of non-motorized sources such as bicycles
and cidomos (horse drawn carts), with mostly unsealed dirt roads and few paved
roads. The island has limited fresh water shipped in barrels from the mainland on
a daily basis. Only the high-end resorts, mid-level accommodations and restaurants
use fresh water (Hampton 1998; Graci 2007). The island’s energy source is based
on a generator and there are many power outages throughout the course of a day. In
the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of daily boats bringing
tourists to the island, with direct transport from Bali. This has changed the nature of
tourism on the island, as a more diverse clientele has begun to visit. Numerous ac-
commodations have pools, there is horseback riding offered on the island and several
high-end and culturally diverse dining establishments have opened catering to more
of the mass tourist culture. These recent changes have resulted in the island begin-
ning to move from the development stage to the consolidation stage of the tourism
This paper is based upon ﬁeldwork that was conducted in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia,
over three visits in May–July 2005, October–November 2005 and December 2007.
Research was also conducted in the summer of 2010 but focused on speciﬁc aspects of
waste management and sea turtle conservation. A case study approach was undertaken
for this study that consisted of an in-depth investigation of the issues surrounding
tourism development and sustainability in Gili Trawangan. The case study approach
presented the opportunity to apply a multi-method approach to a unique setting
(Sommer & Sommer 1992). The ﬁrst phase of this research consisted of undertaking
an environmental impact assessment in 2005 to determine the environmental and
social impacts occurring through tourism development on the island. In addition,
45 in-depth, semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with a cross
section of stakeholders including the local community, local government, western
businesses, local businesses, employees and tourists. The interviews identiﬁed the
barriers to implementing sustainable tourism initiatives on the island, the history of
development and sought to investigate innovative ways to move the sustainability
agenda forward. The environmental impact assessment and interviews formed the
Collaboration and Partnership Development 33
basis for a sustainable tourism strategy for the island. The strategy recommended the
development of a multi-stakeholder partnership and subsequent actions that needed
to be addressed. The sustainable tourism strategy was released in February 2006 and
formed the basis for the actions that have been implemented on the island. In 2007,
follow-up interviews were conducted with 20 of the original stakeholders interviewed
in 2005 in addition to 20 interviews with stakeholders that were new to the island but
showed an interest in the development of sustainability initiatives. These interviews
sought to determine the cause for the slow progression of the implementation of
the sustainable tourism strategy and to identify further strategies to ensure ease of
implementation. New issues that have developed on the island were discussed. A
snowball sampling method was used to recruit key informants for the interviews.
This technique is used in social science research for developing a research sample
where existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their acquaintances.
This research technique works well as a breadth of key stakeholders can be identiﬁed
(Sommer & Sommer 1992). Through the various phases of research conducted on the
island using multiple methods, a multi-stakeholder partnership was developed and
sustainability initiatives were implemented.
This study sought to determine the success of the multi-stakeholder partnership that
was developed on Gili Trawangan to guide the implementation of sustainability
initiatives. The stakeholders involved prior to and during the implementation of this
partnership included representatives from the expatriate and local tourism businesses,
local government, and community which includes expatriates living on the island as
well as local Indonesians, tourists and employees.
An Evaluation of the Gili Trawangan Multi-Stakeholder Partnership
Challenges to Sustainable Tourism Development
Over the last number of years, Gili Trawangan has faced many challenges regarding
sustainable development and maintaining the ecological integrity of the island. The
main issues on the island have related to waste management, coral reef degradation,
beach erosion, unplanned or unauthorized development, illegal ﬁshing and tension
between the westerners living on the island and the locals. It is also riddled with an
unresponsive provincial government that does not provide any ﬁnancial assistance to
the island and a corrupt local government that is appointed through a feudal system
of ownership versus a democratic election. Many of the locals on the island live in
In 2002, the Gili Ecotrust was organized by a number of the dive shops on the
island. The purpose of the Ecotrust was to collect and manage a dive tax (initially
34 S. Graci
at US$3 per diver and US$1 per snorkeler) which was used to pay local ﬁsherman
to stop detrimental ﬁshing practices and to hire a patrol boat for the area. When
the Ecotrust was ﬁrst developed, despite the numerous ideas for how to increase
sustainability in Gili Trawangan, and a common belief by a number of business
owners that current practices were inadequate, there was a lack of momentum to
move forward and implement initiatives. The lack of momentum was a result of
the ‘pass the buck’ mentality, where everyone believed that they were too busy to
contribute to the development and implementation of initiatives. Despite the concern
that the environment on the island was degraded, several business owners did not
want to take responsibility for implementation, especially when it involved time and
money. It was evident that several of the business owners on the island had numerous
complaints about the management of the environment, yet it was difﬁcult to rally
support in terms of volunteer time to manage the systems on the island. For example,
only one business owner in conjunction with the local government managed the eco-
tax funds to pay the ﬁshermen, a practice that was not looked upon favorably as a
sustainable solution by many of the business owners; however, no other solutions
were put forth. The business owners felt that it was an ineffective method, as one
patrol boat was unable to guard all areas around the island and this did not deter
ﬁsherman from the neighboring islands of Bali and Lombok. The payment did not
encourage education on the reasons not to ﬁsh or skills training for the ﬁsherman,
rather just supported inaction.
Another challenge with the Ecotrust was that one person managed the funds and
day-to-day workings of the Ecotrust, in addition to running their own successful
dive business. It was not plausible for one person to voluntarily in his/her minimal
spare time to manage the organization effectively. Despite the ideas and enthusiasm
from other stakeholders on the island, no one was willing to take responsibility. This
lack of responsibility was evident with the organization of a beach clean-up team
that was funded by the Gili Ecotrust. The beach clean-up team was supported by all
businesses participating in the Ecotrust; however, without any management, direction
or motivation on how to proceed with the clean-up on a regular basis, it quickly ceased
Another challenge to sustainability on the island is due to corruption of the lo-
cal government. On the local level, corruption occurred through the random pricing
structure that government-appointed businesses charge in terms of waste collection.
Expatriate businesses are charged an inﬂated rate over local businesses, despite the
success or size of the business. These fees are based on personal relationships so
that one expatriate business owner can pay up to triple the amount for the same
services as another, who has a good relationship with the waste collection agency
(Graci 2007). This has led to businesses on the island not wanting to participate in
the waste management system. The disparity of policies on the island is dependent
upon personal relationships, bribes and government corruption. This has led to the
Collaboration and Partnership Development 35
frustration of the stakeholders, particularly in terms of volunteering time and money
to implement sustainable tourism initiatives. Many initiatives have been funded in-
dependently and several stakeholders felt powerless to oppose the current structure
for fear of making their own lives difﬁcult and negatively affecting their business.
Physical attributes such as infrastructure, or lack thereof, are also an impediment.
Gili Trawangan currently ships in barrels of fresh water on a daily basis to the island.
Structures such as sewage treatment plants (sewage is currently either disposed of in
homemade septic tanks, to the sea or open pits on the side of the road in the village)
cannot be built, as salt water will degrade the infrastructure. In addition, technology
continues to be a challenge. Even if initiatives such as solar power or a sewage treat-
ment plant were installed, it would be difﬁcult to ﬁx or adjust technologies due to
the remoteness of the island and lack of skill and cost. Space is also an issue on the
island, as many businesses would like to install composters to dispose of their own
organic waste, but do not have the space available (Graci 2007). Despite the fact that
several of the tourists on Gili Trawangan supported a sustainability strategy and have
no issue contributing to the eco-tax while diving or snorkeling, many tourists were
not necessarily aware of the environmental issues, nor do they factor this into their
motivations for visiting this destination. Tourists on Gili Trawangan are party tourists
and divers. The majority of tourists are young (18–24 years old) backpackers and due
to the inexpensive nature of their experience on this island, do not demand a higher
quality of sustainability (Dodds et al. 2010). Therefore, the tourists will contribute
their one-time fee of US$6 if they are diving or US$1 if they are snorkeling, but will
not pay higher premiums for sustainability initiatives nor factor this into their deci-
sion when choosing an establishment to eat or stay. They are also satisﬁed with the
status quo and despite attempts at banishing water bottles on the island, still consume
water in bottles and contribute to the ever-growing waste problem on the island. This
is due to the disconnection of the tourists with the rest of the island, as tourists on
Gili Trawangan are not usually exposed to the village or are unaware of any of the
issues. As with many paradise islands, tourists are only exposed to the beach, bars,
restaurants and diving; however in the recent years, the loss of several of the beaches
has led to massive overcrowding on the one beach that is left on the island. Tourists
have commented that the island is becoming overcrowded and displeased with the
state of the beach. They have also commented on the rubbish on the island, which
many times is littered in public areas.
Overcoming Challenges: The Implementation of a Multi-Stakeholder
Despite the number of challenges that this island is facing, they have moved forward
and have implemented a number of innovative initiatives driven by the implementation
of a multi-stakeholder partnership.
36 S. Graci
The Antecedent Stage
In the island of Gili Trawangan, the antecedent to this partnership was the concern
among the local community and businesses that the degradation of the environment
would lead to the eventual demise of this tourism destination. Due to the crisis that
arose because of coral bombing and other detrimental ﬁshing practices, stakeholders
joined together to formally manage the crisis. The Ecotrust formally began to monitor
illegal ﬁshing through providing ﬁnancial incentives to ﬁsherman to stop illegal
ﬁshing practices and hiring a patrol boat for the area.
Partnerships are also championed by a strong leader whose energy and vision
mobilized others to participate (Selin & Chavez 1995). It was due to the vision of
one dive shop owner that the Ecotrust was born and continued to gain momentum.
As this dive shop owner had a good working relationship with the other stakeholders
(such as the locals, other businesses and government), she took charge to manage
the Ecotrust in the early years. She managed the collection of funds, holding of
meetings, managing complaints and implementing the initiatives until 2007 when an
environmental coordinator was hired.
In addition, as it is a very small island, there was a common vision among all
stakeholders to protect the resources of the island, as it is their livelihood and home.
Partnerships can also be encouraged by providing incentives to potential partners. In
order to collaborate on protecting the marine environment, incentives were provided
to the ﬁsherman to stop illegal ﬁshing and cease with harmful coral bombing practices
as well as to the dive shop owners to participate in order to protect their business
investment. As well, the existing networks of the island that result due to living
in a small communal space with little development for many years encouraged
The Problem-Setting Stage
In the problem-setting stage, consensus is reached on who has a legitimate stake in an
issue. Stakeholders start to appreciate the interdependencies that exist among them
and realize that problem resolution will require collective action. The participants
begin to mutually acknowledge the issue that brings them together. The goal of this
stage is to have stakeholders communicate about the issue and eventually act upon
it. Having stakeholder involvement ensures that they will remain committed to the
process of partnership development.
The problem-setting stage becomes an avenue for dialogue and collaboration
among stakeholders, which in the case of Gili Trawangan included the local com-
munity, local businesses, expatriate businesses, employees, tourists and local gov-
ernment. Consultation was conducted with all stakeholders to identify the ma-
jor issues on the island. Communicating about their concerns, stakeholders were
able to brainstorm innovative methods to deal with the issues on the island. The
Collaboration and Partnership Development 37
consultation identiﬁed that waste management, coral reef degradation, beach erosion,
health impacts through burning of waste and lack of local community involvement
to participate in decisions regarding the island and the tourism industry were some
major issues. Rapid and unsound developments such as building on the beach were
also major areas of concern to the stakeholders. The consultation was used as the basis
for a sustainability strategy that was developed for the island to prioritize initiatives
and identify a form of collaboration to manage the implementation of the strategy.
The Direction-Setting Stage
In the direction-setting stage, collaboration evolves into a direction-setting stage
where participants begin to identify a common purpose and shared interpretations of
the future emerge as stakeholders identify commonly held beliefs and vision (Selin
& Chavez 1995). This process is facilitated by the setting of goals and ground rules
and by organizing subgroups to examine speciﬁc issues.
After the consultation occurred in the previous stage, a sustainability strategy was
developed that focused on setting a mission statement to provide a clear direction
toward achieving the common goal of sustainability. It incorporated best practices
of sustainable tourism development worldwide and identiﬁed initiatives that can be
implemented on the island.
The underlying principle of the sustainability strategy was to protect the environ-
ment by implementing a series of goals and objectives. It was also to ensure that there
was dialogue and transparency occurring among the stakeholders to facilitate the
buy-in and motivation to implement the initiatives. The need for a multi-stakeholder
partnership to increase accountability and manage the implementation of projects
was also recommended. The partnership was structured with the use of sub groups to
explore options and gather support to accomplish the goals and objectives identiﬁed
in the strategy.
The Structuring Stage
The purpose of the partnership, which has been incorporated into the structure of
the Gili Ecotrust, was to be the avenue to initiate dialogue among all stakeholders
and to create a plan for the island that everyone can adhere to. The formalization
of the partnership mirrors phase four of Selin and Chavez’s (1995) model which is
the structuring phase. This phase formalizes the collaboration and its relationships,
elaborates on the tasks necessary to achieve the goals and develops the systems for
implementation. Stakeholders involved in the partnership were designated various
roles and responsibilities for an environmental coordinator and the stakeholders
involved in the sub-groups. Formalizing the partnership enables the stakeholders to
focus resources, share information, increase environmental action and learn from the
leaders. At this stage, it was identiﬁed that the role of the Gili Ecotrust was to
38 S. Graci
•make decisions and oversee the implementation of the sustainable tourism strategy;
•provide guidance and information to the community via community meetings and
•organize project teams to implement the sustainability initiatives;
•manage the eco-tax;
•provide accountability for ﬁnances and decisions made; and
•provide a mechanism for complaints on the management of the environment.
The formalized Ecotrust has been the avenue to ensure that the goals of the strategy
are being achieved.
The Outcome Stage
At this stage, the programs that were developed by the collaboration are being im-
plemented and the beneﬁts derived from the collaboration. The Ecotrust, which is
currently managed by an environmental coordinator, has succeeded in reaching this
stage of the collaboration as it has implemented a number of initiatives garnering pos-
itive impacts on protecting the environment. It has also ensured collaboration through
enabling stakeholders to voice their concerns while also becoming involved in major
issues on the island. Monthly meetings with business owners, local governments and
the community are held in order to work together to tackle the issues on the island.
The Gili Ecotrust now has the participation of numerous stakeholders on the island
and has been responsible for working with the local community in order to monitor
the surrounding area to ensure illegal ﬁshing is not occurring. It is also working
with the local school to educate children about waste disposal and how to protect
the coral reefs, beginning dialogue on how to manage waste on the island, starting a
waste separation program, organizing beach and coral clean-ups and ensuring that the
horses that work the cidomo carts have constant access to freshwater and are treated
humanely. Each dive shop has sponsored its own biorock in front of their properties.
The biorocks provide low-level electrical current to a structure, which is placed under
water and eventually grows into a coral reef balmy. This balmy attracts ﬁsh and leads
to the regeneration of the coral reef. Plans for a waste management and green sea turtle
conservation strategy were being explored in 2010. The environmental coordinator
has now been hired full time and is currently learning the local language in order
to negotiate contracts with waste management organizations and the government.
Even if all the initiatives identiﬁed in the strategy are not implemented immediately,
success is evident through the formation of a partnership that has brought together
various stakeholders on the island to create dialogue and build relationships. This
partnership will also lead to the sharing of information and best practices. By in-
cluding locals in public consultation meetings, the local level of education is being
raised and cultural exchange is occurring. This has, and will lead to new knowledge
and overcoming challenges. Through the involvement of locals, empowerment has
Collaboration and Partnership Development 39
resulted. The partnership has led to increased accountability among the government,
locals and westerners. This has also led to a cohesive environmental vision and lan-
guage, where all who live on Gili Trawangan want to protect the resources that sustain
the island and continue living in a clean environment.
Despite efforts from a number of local businesses to further sustainability initiatives
on the island of Gili Trawangan, challenges to sustainable tourism implementation
still exist. The purpose of developing and implementing a collaborative partnership is
to provide a holistic approach to sustainable tourism implementation that includes all
stakeholders. This case study identiﬁes that collaboration through multi-stakeholder
partnerships can successfully lead to the implementation of programs and initiatives
that can move a destination toward sustainability. In the beginning stages of collab-
oration, it is necessary to identify the challenges and work with all stakeholders to
determine a collective vision. Increasing levels of local involvement and considering
the views of all stakeholders are pertinent in achieving sustainable tourism measures,
as they bring together a wider group of stakeholders with common interests (Farrell
1994; Middleton & Hawkins 1998; Tosun 2001; Puppim de Oliviera 2003). Further,
residents are regarded as the rightful custodians of an area, and their needs should not
be overridden by outside interests (Din 1993; Ruhanen 2008). Each stakeholder has
a different view, and in order to achieve sustainable tourism, multiple stakeholders
working together in collaboration to achieve goals, which beneﬁt the greater good, is
important. Collaboration and participation are needed in order to address the overall
concept of the public good as well as environmental and social concerns in the con-
text of development rather than solely market interests. It also must be mindful of
the many other sectors – taxation, transportation, housing, social development, envi-
ronmental conservation and protection and resource management. As these different
industries all affect tourism, it cannot operate in isolation, and in order for successful
island sustainable tourism to result, it must beneﬁt more than just the business owners
(Graci & Dodds 2010).
The case study of Gili Trawangan identiﬁes that managing relationships with pri-
mary stakeholders can result in more than just continued participation. By developing
long-term relationships with primary stakeholders, a set of value-creating exchanges
happen that are relational rather than transactional since ‘transactional interactions
can be easily duplicated and thus offer little potential for competitive advantage’
(Hillman & Keim 2001: 127). Collaboration and mutual trust leads to better coop-
eration and long-term viability, however this will only be successful if the process
is open, consultative and aims to set objectives where each stakeholder will beneﬁt.
Effective stakeholder management will build trust and give stakeholders a sense of
empowerment and ownership in the development process.
40 S. Graci
Once the problem is deﬁned, it is necessary to establish goals as well as roles and
responsibilities to achieve these goals. In Gili Trawangan, information was sought
through consultation and conducting an environmental audit. This fed into a strategy
that achieved buy-in from all stakeholders. The nature of the partnership was also
one that fostered continuous dialogue and involvement as well as was ﬁnancially
stable through the collection of an eco-tax. The funds collected provided the ability to
hire an environmental coordinator that was responsible for the day-to-day tasks related
to the partnership. This also increased the level of success of the collaboration because
this person acted as the link between all stakeholders. As it was the responsibility of
the coordinator to ensure that tasks were completed and that communication did not
break down, tasks were implemented to achieve the stated goals. In addition, monthly
meetings and constant communication and consultation included all stakeholders
in joint decision-making and ensured that the process was dynamic leading to its
success. This case study has identiﬁed that momentum and good will are not enough,
a collaborative effort toward sustainability is necessary for success.
It is recommended that this case study be taken as a good example of collaboration.
Despite the number of challenges that this island has and currently is facing, due to
collaboration, constant dialogue, a common vision and working together, challenges
have and continue to be overcome. Selin and Chavez’s (1995) tourism partnership
model has identiﬁed the stages that a partnership can go through and this paper has
used a case study to illustrate this. It is recommended that further tourism partnerships
be analyzed to identify whether the challenges faced are similar and whether the
partnership has followed the progressive stages as identiﬁed by Selin and Chavez
The multi-stakeholder partnership that developed as a result of collaboration in Gili
Trawangan followed the ﬁve stages as identiﬁed by Selin and Chavez (1995) in
their collaboration model. The island of Gili Trawangan went through the ﬁrst phase
when a crisis regarding illegal ﬁshing and bombing developed and through leadership
created the Gili Ecotrust to deal with these issues. This led to the problem-setting
phase where a common vision and problem deﬁnition was identiﬁed, stakeholders
consulted and collaboration began to occur. The third phase led to the goals be-
ing set, information sought out and options explored. Sub-groups to tackle certain
initiatives were organized. The fourth phase consisted of formally structuring the
partnership through hiring a full-time coordinator and assigning key roles and re-
sponsibilities to the stakeholders involved. The ﬁfth stage led to the development
of key outcomes such as the installation of a number of biorocks on the island, the
beginning of a waste collection and management system, initiatives for turtle conser-
vation and dialogue being created among stakeholders. Following Selin and Chavez’s
(1995) model which was built on the principles of Gray’s collaboration theory, the
Collaboration and Partnership Development 41
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Notes on Contributor
Dr. Sonya Graci is an Assistant Professor of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality
and Tourism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. She is also the co-founder of
the Icarus Foundation, a not-for–proﬁt organization that focuses on the sustainability
of tourism, and the Director of Accommodating Green, a sustainability consultancy.