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Business and Management.
This research investigates the local, place-based factors that influence tourism development, and asks why some tourism areas develop more than others. It provides important insights into the dynamics that occur at the local level, and contributes to the existing literature on destination development by investigating the influence of local tourist influentials; the presence of a social and professional milieu and the propensity for co-operation. Taking an inter-disciplinary approach, the research draws from existing tourism literature on models of tourism development, as well as literatures on entrepreneurship and industrial district theory. Underpinned by a pragmatic philosophy, it adopts a mixed-methods approach within a redominantly qualitative framework, and undertakes a comparative case study of tourism development in Killarney (a highly developed tourist town in the southwest of Ireland) and Clifden (a less developed tourist area in the west of Ireland). The research provides a comprehensive understanding of the way communities of individuals and businesses, with deep social roots and a common history, can influence tourism development. This detailed analysis of tourism development explores the way in which two tourism areas and communities have engaged with tourism, how their different histories have resulted in different factors of development, and how this has influenced their development as destinations. The research enhances the academic literature on tourism development in Ireland, an area that is extremely underdeveloped. Furthermore, it contributes to our understanding of how destinations develop, and the transferability of its key findings to other tourism areas has implications for both academics and policy-makers alike.