Applied Geography: Principles and Practice: An Introduction to Useful Research in Physical, Environmental and Human Geography

By Michael Pacione | Go to book overview

23

Sustainable tourism

Lesley France


INTRODUCTION

who could have foreseen all this three summers ago; when their yachts first dropped anchor here; when the first village houses were bought and converted…the first property acquired and developed? …it is time to weigh anchor again and seek remoter islands and farther shores and pray for another three years reprieve.

(Fermor 1983:120)

Originally published in 1966 with reference to the coasts of southern Spain, this graphic description of the spread of Christaller’s (1964) ‘pleasure periphery’ hints at some of the negative impacts of tourism in destination areas. These impacts became more acute and more widespread during the following thirty years and included ecological damage, the loss of traditional values and societies, and the operation of the economically and environmentally disastrous ‘resort cycle’ (Butler 1980; Lane 1990). Essentially, they were an outcome of the post-war growth in the numbers of tourists resulting from increased leisure and paid holidays, greater disposable income, and cheaper and easier travel for many in the urban industrial areas of Northwest Europe and North America (see Box 23.1).

Widespread discussion in the 1970s by a range of people from futurologists to academics and church-based groups took place about the negative effects of the ‘unfettered growth in mass tourism’ (Lane 1990). France, Germany and Switzerland led the search for alternative forms of sustainable tourism (defined in the following section) with the economist and sociologist Pierre Laine, the theologian and holiday psychologist Paul Rieger and Professor Jost Krippendorf (Krippendorf 1987).

Academics from a variety of disciplines published tourism studies in the late 1970s and 1980s. This work was drawn from the following fields: anthropology (Smith 1977), which focused on notions of authenticity both in artefacts sold to tourists and in non-material customs such as rituals and dances; sociology (O’Grady 1981), which centred around changes resulting from contacts between hosts and guests e.g. in language, religious practices, prostitution; economics (Vaughan and Long 1982), within which the nature and extent of employment, foreign exchange earnings, linkages with other sectors of the economy and dependency were among the factors considered; ecology (Stroud 1983; Pawson et al. 1984), which examined the effects of air and water pollution and the destruction of flora and fauna; and geography (Pearce 1987; Shaw and Williams 1994), which concentrated on the spatial aspects of tourism activity. Much detailed research was collected on tourism within general texts (Mathieson and Wall 1982; Lea 1988; Pearce 1989). These also often proposed planning and policy measures to alleviate the problems arising from negative tourism impacts. Such measures—such as the imposition of quotas on visitors or cruise ships, land-use planning restrictions, conservation work, employment regulations—tried to establish a viable alternative approach to tourism that is less destructive for the

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