Traveling for a Change? The Merits of Ethical Tourism

Date: Wednesday 15 June 2016, 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm

Venue: Carriageworks Theatre, Millennium Room

Panel: Jim Butcher, Davina Stanford, Simon Woodward

£5 waged/£4 unwaged to pay on the door. To reserve a place, please e-mail us at contact@leedssalon.org.uk

From the 1960’s, tourism was encouraged as an unquestionable good. With the arrival of package holidays and charter flights, tourism could at last be enjoyed by the masses. The UN even declared 1967 ‘International Years of the Tourist’, and recognised tourism as ‘a basic and most desirable human activity, deserving the praise and encouragement of all people’s and all governments’.

Today, however, tourism is no longer seen in such a positive light. Since the 1990’s there’s been growing criticism of the tourist industry, and tourists themselves. Mass tourism is deemed to have wrought damage to the environment and host societies, while many tourists are seen as caring little for the countries they travel to. To remedy this, new forms of tourism have developed that proclaim themselves to be ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible; that can help make a positive difference to the world, or at least minimise our negative impact.

However, in recent years responsible tourism has also face criticism. On the one hand, ethical tourists are often regarded as naïve, patronising and more interested in salving their own guilty Western consciences than genuinely helping people. On the other, some argue that such tourism constitutes a burden that actually hinders progress and development in countries that need it the most. It is also claimed that, while such tourism may have the language of responsibility, it is really about restricting travel for the masses and keeping it for the privileged ‘ethical’ few.

So is tourism an innocent pleasure, or is there a need to curb the excesses of the holiday industry, and even holiday makers themselves? Should holidays be solely about enjoyment, or do we have a responsibility to the places we visit to ‘tread lightly’ or even ‘put something back’? What is ‘ethical tourism’ and who does it benefit?

 

Readings:

Reclaiming travel ... from the snobs; Jim Buthcer, Spiked, 8 October 2015

Ethical Tourism and Development: The Personal and the Political, Jim Butcher, Tourism and Recreation Research, 40(1), 2015

'Exceptional Visitors': Dimensions of Tourist Responsibility in the Context of New Zealand, Davina Stanford, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Vol. 16 No. 3, 2008

Degrowing Tourism: Décroissance, Sustainable Consumption and Steady-State Tourism; C. Michael Hall, Anatolia: An International Journal for Tourism & Hospitality Research, Vol 20, No.1, 2009


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