Individual Paper: Destination degrowth? Mapping political economies of the anti-tourism movement
Framed as a salve to some of the perils of unbridled capitalist development, degrowth has emerged as an important social movement in several pockets around the globe. While degrowth has various forms - ranging from its broad role as a catch-all phrase for eco-movements to more decidedly radical, post-capitalist political projects - its most common instantiation seeks to reorient seemingly blind overconsumption and production towards alternative and smaller-scale economies. In the tourism sector, where social carrying capacity and community resilience are key indicators of over-tourism, public support of degrowth's tenets has thus far been most evident in the growing number of anti-tourism movements. Scholars have argued that the material and psychological impacts of overtourism on the quality of life and well-being of local residents are primary drivers of anti-tourism sentiment. Yet such drivers remain imprecisely defined as indicators. Whether, where, when and how anti-tourism gains ground is in fact linked to a wider range of locally dependent variables (e.g. economic inequality, unemployment rates, gentrification and traffic). Meanwhile, resistance to degrowth's ideas in the tourism sector often questions its viability as a panacea for overtourism that imposes draconian socio-environmental, redistributive policies within existing market economies. This paper integrates ethnographic and geospatial data to identify and develop a more integrated understanding of these key drivers and their linked variables in the sites of several seminal anti-tourism campaigns (e.g. Venice, Barcelona and Reykjavik), addressing the current and potential role of the multiscalar degrowth debate in calling for a restructuring of the tourism landscape in both fringe and mass tourism destinations. It analyses who (e.g. tourism industry actors, NGOs, other local residents, etc.) is calling for tourism degrowth across these sites and addresses to what extent anti-tourism campaigns occur out of specifically tourism-related concerns or wider political economic trends and anxieties. The paper contributes to important political geographies and new political economy theorisations that speak to shifts from anti-tourism activist drives towards more organized calls for a tourism degrowth that portends viable, sustainable change.
Start time: 11:30
Room: ABF (210)
Track: Degrowth in the Age of Migrations