• Lasse Schmidt
4. term, Public Administration and Social Science (Master Programme)
The last decades have shown that political reforms are not always successfully implemented or at least implemented the way the policy makers predicted. 90 % of political decisions depend more or less on the organizations to which the political changes should be applied. Therefore this thesis aims to explain, how the intentions of reforms can be affected in the implementation process. Especially in cases where an external shock is expected to interfere with the reform process.
The subject is chosen, because the tourism development reform is currently being implemented, while the COVID-19-pandemic affects the tourism area. It seemed interesting to understand, how the decentralized tourism operators apply the political changes at a time, where the tourism area is inflamed. The thesis strives to investigate if COVID-19 pressures the decentralized tourism operators to behave in a way that causes substantial changes to the public tourism development programme.
The thesis will therefore answer the following question: “What characterizes the tourism development reform and how does the implementation proceed in the light of COVID-19?
The theoretical framework provides insight in the variety of instruments, which policy makers can use to secure implementation of a certain reform. It consists of implementation literature combined with variations of governance. The theory has been operationalized into two hypotheses, which will be investigated with the purpose of understanding the reforms characteristics and the implementation process.
The method approach is a comparative casestudy, which rests on a qualitative research. Three inter-municipal tourism operators will be compared with the intention to explain the implementation of the public tourism development programme. Each entity will represent a specific tourism business area to secure variation, which will contribute to a wider perspective on the different form of behaviours within public tourism development. In addition to six qualitative interviews held with Wonderful Copenhagen, Destination Fyn and Visit Nordvestjylland, a variety of documents will contribute to confirm or deny the two theses in search for an answer to the papers main question.
The thesis shows that the executing units are more or less aligned with the reforms purpose despite the fact that the tourism operators primarily attend to their business community. This is due to COVID-19s negative impact on the tourism business, which makes the decentralized tourism operators depended on public funds which are structured in a way that secure the reforms purpose. Only inter-municipal tourism operators can access the main part of the public tourism funds. Therefore this financial incentive has secured the establishment of 19 inter-municipal tourism operators, which was one of the political intentions with the reform.

The research visualises, how the strategic focus on a national and decentralized level aren’t that different. Sustainability is mentioned as a key priority for both parts and it is expected to play a big part in the upcoming revision of the national strategy for Danish tourism. Especially in light of COVID-19, which is expected to change the travel patterns in the future. The findings show that the decentralized tourism operators are working in line with the national landmarks. However, the thesis questions if the political goals for tourism development are reachable given the current situation and whether or not the political goals are in fact the main success criteria?
The comparative case indicates that an external shock such as COVID-19 can create vulnerable situations; where the executing organizations tend to apply the political changes with only few adjustments, because it gives access to funds. This challenges the idea that external shocks often create an open window to change, when COVID-19 and the composition of governance tools have in fact accelerated the implementation procedure of the new tourism development programme.
Publication date28 May 2021
Number of pages75
ID: 413108071