Is ‘regenerative tourism’ just a rebranding of ‘sustainable tourism’?

Photo showing new growth emerging from desolate landscape

Emerging at the same time as sustainability, regeneration has expanded across numerous development sectors including residential, commercial, and agriculture. While regenerative tourism practice has been developing since the first decade of this century, it is still relatively unknown and poorly understood. 

In this brief article, I will answer some common questions and respond to some common criticisms of regenerative tourism.

Why do we need regenerative tourism?

Proponents of regenerative tourism want to address growing concerns about tourism’s contributions, and vulnerabilities, to the catastrophic destruction of societies and the planet. Dominant sustainable development approaches originate from a mechanistic worldview; the industrial model and the ‘continual growth’ agenda. They support extractive economies that no longer serve our interests. 

The implication here is that sustainable tourism has failed. 

In response, there are calls for the adoption of alternative worldviews to address tourism and sustainability, because ‘you cannot solve old problems with old thinking’. Such alternatives and their applications are emerging from the margins of tourism practice. Derived from an ecological worldview, regenerative tourism is being developed by a growing movement of tourism practitioners.

What is regenerative tourism?

Let me start off by saying that regenerative tourism is not a tourism niche, like ‘adventure tourism’. Rather, it is a holistic way of thinking; a transformational approach with deep roots within regenerative development.

Regenerative tourism combines a range of processes co-created by local communities who want their places and their visitors to flourish. There are no 10-point checklists that tourism stakeholders can follow. Instead, stakeholders must come together to discover the unique essence of their place to find ways to build reciprocal, beneficial relationships.

Communities that adopt a regenerative tourism approach embark on a journey to align themselves with living systems as part of nature. Tourism activity in urban areas can also be regenerative as cities are also viewed as living systems.

This is an excerpt from an article by Loretta Bellato, originally published by The “Good Tourism” Blog.

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