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What meaning for sustainability? Creating tourism impacts in a slippery policy context

Font, X (2016) What meaning for sustainability? Creating tourism impacts in a slippery policy context Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events.

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Abstract This section of the journal encourages discussion between several authors on a policy-related topic. The same question may, therefore, be addressed from different theoretical, cultural or spatial perspectives. Dialogues may be applied or highly abstract. This Dialogue starts with this contribution and is followed by three comments by Jim Butcher; Fernando Correia; Mary G. McDonald Introduction Academics are expected to engage with industry and policy-makers to conduct research that has impact. For those of us researching sustainable tourism, this means creating a positive benefit on the triple bottom line of the environment, society and the economy, and therefore the mandate of creating an impact could be seen as a legitimisation of our inner calling. But these same academics are faced with the conflict of engaging in a policy-making process that is not fit for purpose, and that appropriates and narrowly defines the sustainability discourse, stifling a deeper and more meaningful debate of whether the purpose of sustainable tourism is to make the tourism industry more sustainable, or to use tourism as a tool for sustainable development (Sharpley, 2000 Sharpley, R. (2000). Tourism and sustainable development: Exploring the theoretical divide. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 8(1), 1–19. doi: 10.1080/09669580008667346 [Taylor & Francis Online] ). This dialogue starts with an opinion piece on the challenges to achieve meaningful impact when the system pays lip service to the ill-defined concept of sustainability, that most individuals do not want to implement because changing one’s behaviour is complex, and as such the policy instruments developed are half-hearted. Consumers tend to misunderstand the causes and consequences of unsustainable behaviour, and their cognitive dissonance between what they do and want to believe in results in downplaying the importance of the impacts caused. Sustainability is subservient to trade and consumption, and many sustainability policies are implemented to be able to justify continued over-development, which may explain why the sustainability solutions implemented do not compensate for the increased consumption. This allows consumers to enjoy without guilt experiences marketed as sustainable, while the market-based instruments introduced to inform consumer choice have limited effect. The dialogue calls for tourism academics to conduct research that is purposefully informing behaviour change, in full knowledge of the limitations of the system we work within.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Environment
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Date : 4 December 2016
DOI : 10.1080/19407963.2016.1258514
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:38
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 15:08

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