The tourism sector is largely rooted in a traditional linear economic model in which resources are taken, used, and disposed of. These linear practices have their own negative social and environmental effects — their “economic externalities” — and they jeopardise the tourism sector’s ability to generate sustained long-term benefits to destinations and all who call them home.
The circular economy, however, looks beyond the current take-make-waste economic model, redefines growth, and focuses on positive society-wide impacts. Simply put, the circular economy entails the decoupling of economic activities from the consumption of finite resources. It also seeks to eradicate waste by keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. This makes a community more resilient as it is less reliant on new inputs. A community becomes more self-sufficient.
How can a circular economy build resilience in small island destinations?
Based on the need to build resilience into small island destinations after COVID-19 and beyond, here I summarise six ways a circular tourism economy would achieve that:
1. Host community resilience through enhanced communication, networking, and collaboration
2. Host community resilience through local supply chains
3. Host community resilience through green investments and green finance
4. Host community resilience through digitalisation
5. Host community resilience through decentralisation and self-determination
6. Host community resilience through economic diversification and jobs
In this article I have shared some of the key ways by which a circular tourism economy would improve community resilience in small island destinations. It is important to note that this is far from exhaustive.
Tourism frameworks and recovery strategies in the future should recognise the importance of maximising the value of resources, including the untapped value of those that have traditionally been discarded as waste, and especially in small island destinations where the tourism sector plays such an enormous socio-economic role.
This is an excerpt from an article by Angelo Sciacca, originally published on The “Good Tourism” Blog.