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Tourism Geographies Podcast

From ‘sustainable tourism’ to ‘sustainability transitions in tourism’?

Season 2, Ep. 38

Although sustainable tourism research is a rich and diverse field, it still suffers from a few important shortcomings. Negligible attention has been given to various possible pathways to sustainable tourism (as opposed to sustainable tourism as a ‘goalpost’) and there is an insufficient understanding of how the interconnections and interdependencies within tourism as a complex system shape the pursuit of sustainability. What is therefore needed is a sharper focus on the actual processes that must unfold for a transition to sustainable tourism to take place, and a better conceptualisation of the tourism industry as a multi-actor and multi-dimensional socio-technical system. We argue here that the sustainability transitions agenda, which has developed over the last two decades at the interface of innovation studies, evolutionary economics, studies of technology and science, and various other fields, offers a promising way forward for the desired pathway towards sustainable tourism to be comprehensively understood and more effectively followed. In order to set the scene for the individual contributions to this collection, we elaborate on this argument by highlighting the key strengths of the sustainability transitions agenda and identifying their potential to help tourism scholars move the work on sustainable tourism in new, unprecedented, and imperative directions. Our overarching aim is to lay the foundations for bridging the gap between (sustainable) tourism research and the sustainability transitions literature to move this combined agenda forward.

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  • 37. The ‘awkward’ geopolitics of tourism in China’s ‘Arctic’ village

    26:51 on the case study of the ‘Arctic’ Village (Mohe, China), a popular tourist site renowned as China’s northernmost point and the best Chinese site to view the northern lights, this article investigates China’s ‘indigenising’ Arctic tourism that transcends conventional geographical boundaries of the Arctic Circle. It introduces ‘awkwardness’ as an empirical affect and an analytical concept to chart the way the village’s tourism practices and perceptions reinforce, challenge, and diverge from the state-centred account of China’s Arctic aspirations and re-territorialising efforts. Under the framework of an ‘awkward’ geopolitics of tourism, three interrelated types of awkwardness are analysed: embodied awkwardness, identity awkwardness, and demonstrative awkwardness. Each concerns a distinct geopolitical facet of village tourism at the spatialities of the body, village, and museum. The main argument is that affective experience not only mediates geopolitical power in tourism practices but also conceptually reconfigures the nexus between tourism and geopolitics across multiple scales. Incorporating awkwardness into tourism studies advances affective tourism and tourism geopolitics by offering an affective lens to reconceptualise contradictions, ruptures, and ambiguities inherent in associating geopolitics with mundane tourism practices and perceptions.
  • 36. Pathways to post-capitalist tourism

    The Spanish Version starts at 35:47 to identify and cultivate forms of post-capitalism in tourism development has yet to be explored in depth in current research. Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, and hence a powerful global political and socio-economic force. Yet numerous problems associated with conventional tourism development have been documented over the years, problems now greatly exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Calls for sustainable tourism development have long sought to address such issues and set the industry on a better course. Yet such calls tend to still promote continued growth as the basis of the tourism industry’s development, while mounting demands for “degrowth” suggest that growth is itself the fundamental problem that needs to be addressed in discussion of sustainability in tourism and elsewhere. This critique asserts that incessant growth is intrinsic to capitalist development, and hence to tourism’s role as one of the main forms of global capitalist expansion. Touristic degrowth would therefore necessitate postcapitalist practices aiming to socialise the tourism industry. While a substantial body of research has explored how tourism functions as an expression of a capitalist political economy, thus far no research has systematically explored what post-capitalist tourism might look like or how to achieve it. Applying Erik Olin Wright’s Citation2019 innovative typology for conceptualizing different forms of post-capitalism as components of an overarching strategy for “eroding capitalism” to a series of illustrative allows for exploration of their potential to contribute to an analogous strategy to similarly “erode tourism” as a quintessential capitalist industry.
  • 35. Bordering, ordering and othering through tourism: the tourism geographies of borders

    24:23 interplay between borders and tourism has fascinated tourism geographers for decades. However, only recently has tourism geographies research on borders mirrored border studies by interweaving tourism with its spatial, cultural, political and economic embedding in order to understand tourism’s socio-spatial place-making and bordering effects. We utilize the highly influential framework for border studies of van Houtum and van Naerssen to reflect on the state of the art of the tourism geographies of borders and make sense of recent developments in the field. The framework focused on the bordering, ordering and othering of society and space, referring, in turn, to creating a sense of boundedness, a process of meaning-making and a process of socio-spatial distinction through the symbolic and material construction of borders. We show that after decades of often descriptive research underpinned by state-centered understandings of how territorial borders have influenced tourism’s growth and development, recent developments in tourism geographies started linking up process-based understandings of borders with reflections on tourism’s place-making role. Our review highlights two important points. First, while massive strides have been made in recent years regarding the process-based understanding of tourism’s constitutive role in bordering processes (and vice versa), the cross-pollination between border studies and tourism geographies research on borders is still incomplete. Second, there is a need to move beyond insular tourism research to see how tourism’s place-making role related to borders and territory manifests in practice. We conclude that tourism is deeply embedded in bordering, ordering and othering society and space, both as an expression and as a driver of, or agent in, these processes, leading to tourism-specific impacts on the spatial environment and to broader socio-spatial (and inherently political) place-making outcomes.
  • 34. Fake news simulated performance: gazing and performing to reinforce negative destination stereotypes

    35:09 with populations of African descent have continuously experienced negative stereotypes portrayed in traditional Western print media. These narratives have expanded to fake news circulating among individuals online, which calls for new techniques in combatting this issue. As there is limited evidence related to fake news in destinations, this research examines how fake news has emerged as a means of reinforcing negative stereotypes for destinations by examining three cases. It proposes a geographical perspective for understanding the production of fake news in tourism as simulated performances incorporating the setting of the frontstage, gazers and changing identities. These aspects drive the visibility, legitimacy and resistance to fake news, which can affect economic gains and conflicting discourses regarding these destinations. This research moves away from conceptualising fake news as solely narratives, as has been done previously. As a result, it draws attention to the spatiality of the phenomenon, which can provide practitioners with insights for developing and implementing destination image repair strategies. Practitioners should incorporate gazers into their strategies for combatting stereotypes. They also need to carry out continuous and real-time repair alongside bunking strategies prior to and during performances. Debunking strategies should provide contextual data in order to be effective. Alongside the empirical contributions, the research enhances the theoretical underpinning of fake news, social media and generally technologies in tourism through the application of concepts within media and black geographies research. These research areas remain understudied in tourism but can serve as pathways to guide further analyses on race in online contexts.
  • 33. On the gender imperative in tourism geographies research

    Doi: 10.1080/14616688.2023.2290002AbstractThis discussion provides a critical review of gender issues in tourism geographies. It maps historical and contemporary developments and provides a future research agenda that suggests moving beyond binary and Western gender discourses.
  • 32. Emergent geographies of digital nomadism: conceptual framing, insights and implications for tourism

    24:00 nomadism has become a rapidly growing subject of interest both in the public and scientific domain especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Conceptual and empirical developments in research on digital nomads show that the geographic perspective on digital nomadism has been very limited. The geographical framing of digital nomadism and publications in the geographical fora are still scarce. Despite the accelerating trend and potential transformative effect on places, the perspective of place (or speaking in tourism terms—destination perspective) on digital nomadism has been very limited, with the major focus being on the travellers and their experiences. In this article, I will discuss the existing knowledge on digital nomadism through a central geographical concept of place. Among other topics, I will show the way place is involved in the production of digital nomadic mobilities, especially in relation to the issue of geoarbitrage and local impact; specifically, the way place is connected to coworkcation and visa policies. I focus on the main research themes in digital nomadism and show the way they inform geography and tourism geographies.
  • 31. Commemoration and commodification: slavery heritage, Black travel and the #YearofReturn2019 in Ghana

    31:34 marking 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived to Jamestown, United States in 1619, the Ghana government through the Ghana Tourism Authority initiated the Year of Return 2019 (#YOR2019). The goal was to unite Africans in the diaspora with those on the continent, especially in Ghana, through a year-long calendar of commercial and commemorative slavery heritage tourism activities ranging from visits to slavery sites, healing ceremonies, theatre and musical performances, festivals, investment forums and relocation conferences. When a destination tourism product is rooted in a less-than-desirable past, how is ‘balance’ achieved between commercialization and commemoration? In exploring this conceptual question, we developed a methodological innovation utilizing the social media platform Twitter for data collection. Using a social media crawler coded in Python programming language, we scrapped tweets from the accounts of the Ghana Tourism Authority prior, during, and after the YOR2019 based on hashtag searches. After data cleaning, 1010 tweets were inductively analysed using NVIVO qualitative data analysis software. The findings revealed three emergent themes along a commodification-commemoration continuum: (1) the eventification and festivalisation of slavery heritage tourism, (2) celebrity co-production of YOR2019 experiences through social media and (3) pivoting from a predominantly slavery heritage destination to a destination that focuses on other touristic and business travel. Ultimately, YOR2019 marked a significant push by Ghana to move into a ‘Beyond the Return’ phase that pivots away from slavery heritage towards a more well-rounded tourism product for roots, leisure, and business travellers. The research established that commodification in slavery heritage tourism does not inherently destroy cultural meanings but provide new commemorative meanings for a new generation of Black travellers searching for more than just their roots.
  • 30. Sense of community and well-being in diaspora festivals

    22:33 study was prompted by a lack of empirical research addressing the overlap between sense of community and eudemonic well-being components, the limited attention paid to immigrant perspectives in well-being studies, and the presence of under-researched type of festival and population. To address these gaps, this study aimed to identify the dimensions of sense of community and the well-being outcomes of diaspora festivals. The study targeted an understudied group and its festivals: those of the Ethiopian diaspora community in the United States. Guided by the constructivist grounded theory method, the study obtained data through guided interviews, and simultaneously analyzed them to construct six domains of a sense of community applicable to diaspora festivals. The six elements of a sense of community were a sense of belonging, a sense of togetherness, serving the com­munity, recognition, social support, and connection with diaspora, and comprised at least one eudemonic well-being component. Engagement, positive relationships, finding meaning in life, and a sense of achievement, were inherent in more than three of the six domains of a sense of community. Other well-being elements such as physical health and spirituality were evident in one domain. In conclusion, this study offers theoretical contributions to festival tourism, community psychology, human/tourism geography, and positive psychology research in multiple ways.