bramwell & lane - sustainable tourism - an evolving global approach

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  • This article was downloaded by: []On: 01 February 2013, At: 11:11Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T3JH, UK

    Journal of Sustainable TourismPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:

    Sustainable Tourism: AnEvolving Global ApproachBill Bramwell a & Bernard Lane ba Centre for Tourism, Sheffield Hallam University,UKb Rural Tourism Unit, University of Bristol, UKVersion of record first published: 04 Jan 2010.

    To cite this article: Bill Bramwell & Bernard Lane (1993): Sustainable Tourism: AnEvolving Global Approach, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1:1, 1-5

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  • Sustainable Tourism: An Evolving Global Approach Bill Bram well Centre for Tourism, SheMeld Hallam Universify, UK Bernard Lane Rural Tourism Unit, Universify of Bristol, UK Co-Editors: Journal o f Sustainable Tourism

    The last half century has been a very remarkable one. The developed nations have enjoyed an excep tional period of both peace and economic expansion. The rest of the world has been less fortunate, but even there the post-war era has brought benefi- cial changes, notably in decolonisation and self-determination. Throughout the world, local and national economies have been increasingly absorbed into a global system. Change and economic growth have become common aims for peoples and governments across the global system.

    For much of the post-war period, the d&re to push for change and economic development was unchallenged. The growth models of Rostow and Myrdal, of industrial and population growth leading to economic 'take off', were accepted as norms. But from the mid-1960s onwards the conventions of continuous growth began to be questioned. Growth was seen to have the potential to damage the natural environment in an irreversible way. Environmentalism was born. In Britain, an analysis of the space devoted to environ- mental issues in The Times newspaper shows that from 1953 to 1965, coveragewas both minimal and steady. But, from 1965 onward, coverage began to grow and increased by 300% by 1973 (Brookes et al., 1980). Similar phenomena have been observed in the major newspapers of other developed countries overthe same period (Sandbach, 1980). In parallel with increas- ing public interest in environmental issues came the rapid formation of environmental pressure groups. Many of these were local, some were national; a few, such as Green-

    founded in 1970, were global (Lowe & Goyder, 1983).

    The environmenta1,movement began as a protest movement. There were few clear aims except for vague and negative anti- growth sentiments. Gradually, however, more clearly definable ideas began to develop. The movement widened to encompass the fateof thebuilt heritageand traditional societies as well as the natural world. One wing of the movement hoped for salvation by returning to historic values and methods wherever possible (the so- called deep ecologists). In contrast, other environmentalists looked for technical pro- gress and change to help forge a new rela- tionship between man's wish for economic growth and the need to conserve the environment. In the 1980s environmental- ism's major new paradigm emerged from these debates and discussions - the concept of sustainable development.

    The origins of the concept of sustainable development can be traced back to the pub- lication, in 1973, of Ecofogicaf Principksfor Ecoiiomic Deuelopnieizt by Raymond Dasmann, John Milton and Peter Freeman. Many of the ideas in this work were developed at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) based in Geneva. The World Conservation Strategy, issued by IUCN and others in 1980, launched sustain- ability onto the global stage, bringing the cautious but sometimes negative thinking of the conservationist together with the positive but sometimes heedless world of the develoDer. The Brundtland ReDort of 1987, fol1o;ving the World Commisiion on

    peace and Friends of .the Earth, both : Environment and Development, further




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    developed and disseminated the ideas of sustainable development. In outline, four basic principles can be seen to be crucial to the concept of sustainability: (1) the idea of holistic planning and strategy-making; (2) the importance of preserving essential ecological processes; (3) the need to protect both human heritage and biodiversity; (4) the key requirement: to develop in such a way that productivity can be sustained over the long term for future generations. It should also be noted that Brundtland added a powerful rider to the sustainability debate: in addition to achieving balance between economic growth and natural resources, there should be a balance of fair- ness and opportunity between nations. In the long term, we will require a far greater convergence between rich and poor if the global system is to be stable as well as sustainable.

    It is against this background that the development of the concept of sustainable tourism must be seen. Modem tourism was created and expanded in the post-war growth era which began in the 1940s; it continues to flourish. The statistics of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) are well known. International tourism arrivals grew from 25 millions in 1950 to 405 mil- lions in 1989. Domestic tourism is esti- mated to be ten times the size of international tourism. By 2000, estimated the WTO, tourism could be the world's largest single industry (WTO, 1989). But, just as general economic growth has now been questioned, so has the unbridled growth of the tourism sector. And, in a fascinating parallel, tourism's critics have slowly passed through a similar evolution in their thinking to that experienced by the environmental critics of the classical general economic growth model: protest- a desire for the clock to be turned back - a hope for improvement through technical developments and better management - the emergence of the concept of sustainable development.

    Sustainable tourism is a positive approach intended to reduce the tensions and friction created by the complex inter- actions between the tourism industry, visi- tors, the environment and the communities which are host to holidaymakers. It is an approach which involves working for the

    Journal of Sustainable Tourism

    long-term viability and quality of both natural and human resources. It is not anti- growth, but it acknowledges that there are limits togrowth.Thoselimits willvary con- siderably from place to place, and accord- ing to management practices. It recognises that for many areas tourismwas, is and will be an important form of development. It seeks to ensure that tourism developments are sustainable in the long term and wherever possible help in turn to sustain the areas in which they operate. And, for good measure, sustainable tourism also aims to increase visitor satisfaction. This last point is not an idle one. Satisfied visi- tors are usually also visitors who become concerned and carinF for the places they visit. They often provide long-term and repeat business.

    The concept of sustainable tourism seems to have emerged first in the Alpine lands of Europe during the late 1970s, although discussion quickly followed in international circles and in North America. German speakers will find a good general account of those early years in Jost Krippendorf, Peter Zimmer and Hans Glauber's Firer einen nnderri Tourismits (Towards an AlternativeTourism) publish- ed in Frankfurt in 1988. English speakers should consult the proceedings of the Globe 90 conference on sustainable devel- opment held in Canada: a useful summary of the tourism discussions at that con- ference can be found in Edward Inskeep's Toiirism Planning: An lntegrnted nnd Sustnin- able Approach published in 1991.These early debates led to a growing number of pilot projects: the issues raised by both dis- cussions and projects are now seen to be cf crucial importance for tourism businesses, planners and environmentalists, as well as for travellers themselves.

    As the sustainable tourism debate has developed it has extended beyond an ana- lysis of the impacts of tourism's operations, to propose practical steps which could be taken by the industry, host populations, planners and tourists (Inskeep, 1991; Krip- pendorf, 1987). There has been a steady flow of policy statements and initiatives towards sustainability from national, regional and local governments, tourism organisations, businesses and local com- munities (such as Alberta Tourism, 1988;




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