Transitioning from a Local Railway Hub to a Regional Tourism System: The Story of Peterborough, South Australia

Doris Carson, Bruce Prideaux, Rob Porter, Ana Vuin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the tourism development path of Peterborough, a former single-industry railway town in rural South Australia. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from evolutionary, institutional and relational economic geography, the aim of the chapter is to identify how issues around path dependence influence the abilities of peripheral single-industry towns to operate as part of interactive and collaborative regional tourism innovation systems. The case study documents the difficult transition of Peterborough from a relatively independent major railway hub to a minor tourist transit stopover requiring stronger partnerships within a broader regional tourism destination. The findings identify a range of challenges for local tourism that point to issues around single-industry path dependence and ‘lock-in’, including: an entrenched dependence on government leadership and investment; a lack of home-grown entrepreneurship willing to address gaps in the homogeneous product portfolio; limited local acceptance and understanding of tourism; resistance to outsiders as new knowledge brokers; and truncated network capabilities within the local system. The chapter also shows how the unique spatial and socio-economic contexts of peripheral ‘low-amenity’ areas may reinforce path dependence by limiting opportunities to diversify incoming (tourist and migrant) mobilities. Some of the weaknesses within the local tourism system may be bridged by proactive local government and public sector leadership, yet we question the long-term sustainability of such approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Rural Tourism Geographies
Subtitle of host publicationCase Studies from Developed Nations on the Exotic, the Fringe and the Boring Bits in Between
EditorsRhonda L. Koster, Doris A. Carson
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-11950-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-11949-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Publication series

NameGeographies of Tourism and Global Change
ISSN (Print)2366-5610
ISSN (Electronic)2366-5629


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