Another world is possible: Tourism, globalisation and the responsible alternative

Author: B. Freya Higgins-Desbiolles

Higgins-Desbiolles, B. Freya, 2006 Another world is possible: Tourism, globalisation and the responsible alternative, Flinders University, School of International Studies

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Utilising a critical theoretical perspective, this work examines contemporary corporatised tourism and capitalist globalisation. This analysis suggests that marketisation limits the understanding of the purposes of tourism to its commercial and “industrial” features, thereby marginalising wider understandings of the social importance of tourism. Sklair’s conceptualisation of capitalist globalisation and its dynamics, as expressed in his “sociology of the global system” (2002), is employed to understand the corporatised tourism phenomenon. This thesis explains how a corporatised tourism sector has been created by transnational tourism and travel corporations, professionals in the travel and tourism sector, transnational practices such as the liberalisation being imposed through the General Agreement on Trade in Services negotiations and the culture-ideology of consumerism that tourists have adopted. This thesis argues that this reaps profits for industry and exclusive holidays for privileged tourists, but generates social and ecological costs which inspire vigorous challenge and resistance. This challenge is most clearly evident in the alternative tourism movement which seeks to provide the equity and environmental sustainability undermined by the dynamics of corporatised tourism. Alternative tourism niches with a capacity to foster an “eco-humanism” are examined by focusing on ecotourism, sustainable tourism, pro-poor tourism, fair trade in tourism, community-based tourism, peace through tourism, volunteer tourism and justice tourism. While each of these demonstrates certain transformative capacities, some prove to be mild reformist efforts and others promise more significant transformative capacity. In particular, the niches of volunteer tourism and justice tourism demonstrate capacities to mount a vigorous challenge to both corporatised tourism and capitalist globalisation. Since the formation of the Global Tourism Interventions Forum (GTIF) at the World Social Forum gathering in Mumbai in 2004, justice tourism has an agenda focused on overturning corporatised tourism and capitalist globalisation, and inaugurating a new alternative globalisation which is both “pro-people” and sustainable. Following the development of these original, macro-level conceptualisations of tourism and globalisation, this thesis presents a micro-level case study of an Indigenous Australian tourism enterprise which illustrates some of these dynamics in a local context. Camp Coorong Race Relations and Cultural Education Centre established and run by the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal community of South Australia has utilised tourism to foster greater equity and sustainability by working towards reconciliation through tourism. The Ngarrindjeri have also experienced conflicts generated from the pressures of inappropriate tourism development which has necessitated an additional strategy of asserting their Indigenous rights in order to secure Ngarrindjeri lifeways. The case study analysis suggests that for alternative tourism to create the transformations that contemporary circumstances require, significant political change may be necessary. This includes fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights to which a majority of nations have committed but have to date failed to implement. While this is a challenge for nation-states and is beyond the capacities of tourism alone, tourism nonetheless can be geared toward greater equity and sustainability if the perspective that corporatised tourism is the only option is resisted. This thesis demonstrates that another tourism is possible; one that is geared to public welfare, human fulfilment, solidarity and ecological living.

Keywords: tourism,alternative tourism,corporatised tourism,globalisation,Indigenous tourism,Indigenous rights,eco-humanism,justice tourism,Camp Coorong,tourism as a social force,reconciliation tourism

Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2006
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Dr. Tanya Lyons