A proposed special theme issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism explores the potential of “degrowth” to function as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.
Degrowth is a proposal for a radical socio-political transformation, calling for a period of planned economic contraction leading eventually to the type of steady-state economy at a sustainable level of aggregate throughput long advocated by Herman Daly and others. It includes calls to (re)build societies and economies around principles of commons creation and governance, care and conviviality. In the process it seeks to call attention to the inherent unsustainability of a business-as-usual capitalist economy predicated on continual expansion.
The rapidly growing literature addressing degrowth has yet to seriously address the global tourism industry, however. Yet tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and hence a main form of economic expansion. Moreover, it is predicted to grow dramatically in the future as the basis of much of the future development aspirations of many lower-income societies. To seriously pursue degrowth at both global and as well as most national levels, therefore, would likely require a drastic transformation of the tourism industry and its metabolism.
These ‘side-effects’ of mass tourism development are normally addressed by advocating still more growth. Hence, the UNWTO explicitly defends tourism development by claiming “growth is not the enemy; it is how we manage it.” The increase of housing prices/rents is restrained by increasing the stock of buildings; the overload of transport corridors is curbed by the expansion of harbours, airports and bus lines; the increasing precarity of labour – by bringing in more cheap workers/creating more short-term/flexible contracts; the saturation of public space – by better marketing strategies that distribute tourists over bigger territories and colonize more space. Yet none of these measures targets the systemic drivers of tourism, and hence the root causes of its negative consequences.
The papers in this special issue will explore the potential relationship between degrowth and tourism in relation to such dynamics. Contributions are invited that investigate conflicts concerning tourism growth in diverse contexts and/or the application of innovative measures addressed to limit this growth. Initial abstract submission to editors should be sent by December 15th.
For more information read the full Call for Papers here.