Government's engagement with tourism and in the development of the sector is widely accepted but academic debate about the form and level of such involvement is limited. This is particularly the case when specific facets of state engagement, relating for example to support for human resource development (HRD) in tourism, are concerned. The purpose of this paper is to explore the substantially neglected role of the state and its agencies in creating an enabling environment for effective HRD within tourism, through policy and planning as well as the delivery of actual HRD initiatives. In this paper, we briefly address the contested role of government in economic development and, in particular, in HRD. We address the nature of tourism as a sector within the economy and identify its salient features in terms of the key themes in this paper. The role of human resources in enabling tourism businesses, destinations and countries to operate effectively and competitively in the contemporary global economy is addressed and the paper considers the impact that tourism's defining structural and operational characteristics have on the role of people. Finally, building on the experience of the Irish Republic over the past 40 years, we will consider whether government and its agencies can play a useful role in guiding policy and delivering programmes that act to enhance the quality and productivity of people in the delivery of products and services to guests within tourism and, if they can, how this role can best be defined and operationalised.
- human resource development