The state, political trigger events and path creation in tourism destination in Ethiopia

Abstract

This study addresses the gap opened up by the increasing attention in evolutionary economic geography (EEG) studies on the role of the state in economic path creation. The study links the path creation notion of trigger events with political economy perspectives to investigate the role of the state in destination emergence. We offer insights into understanding how the state utilises trigger events for new path development through the case study of Unity Park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A qualitative research approach is adopted that involves key informant interviews, analysis of policy documents and observations. The findings reveal that the idea formation for this destination developed along incremental changes in public policies until a state official seized a political transition event as an opportunity to cause a decisive shift in its trajectory. This incident triggered more real-time opportunities for the state to influence the development of this tourism destination through the application of power and agentic processes. Thus conceptually, we found that while public policies shape destination development visions, it often takes trigger events and strong state involvement to broker new destination pathways. The study contributes to broadening the current understanding of the state’s role in path creation and the significance of trigger events as well as offering empirical evidence on the political-economic mechanisms involved in destination development processes.

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