(october 1th update)
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS PRESENTATIONS
FROM OVERTOURISM TO COVID-19 INDUCED UNDERTOURISM. THE PARADOX OF MOBILITY IN TROUBLED TIMES
Presentation by Marina Novelli & Claudio Milano
In recent times, the tourism industry has become the growth engine for international economy, propelled in large part by the exponential growth of different mobilities practices and capital accumulation. With growing populations across the globe the travel mobilities have intensified. Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, growth projections for international visitation suggested an unprecedented ongoing growth, especially in off the beaten track destinations.
Whether overtourism is an overreaction or simply a problem of management is a moot point, given that in popular destinations, the reaction of residents, social movements, grassroots organizations, municipal governors, and increasingly government authorities have come around to acknowledging that the effects of overtourism are disruptive, marginalizing and potentially casts permanent change. In large part, this is what has driven counter-protests in popular destination cities initially. While resistance has now spilled over into islands, national parks and heritage locations, among a host of others demonstrating that overtourism related-issues are not only linked with urban contexts. In sum, the underlying drivers of overtourism are arguably found in the unprecedented affluence and heightened global mobilities in the present, coupled with the rise of experience seeking as a contemporary and opposing response to materialism, and the use of social media for bragging rights and self-promotion.
The emergence of COVID-19 in late 2019 and further into the first part of 2020, has reverted these effects. In departing from the most mature destination cases, we confront the questions around what the implications of lockdowns across the most visited destinations. Overtourism has been most commonly associated with ineffective governance and deficient policy and planning. For destination countries around the globe labouring against the deluge of tourists, that at one point only occurred during peak holiday periods, has enforced permanent transformations and devastating displacement with adverse impacts on social capital, local-level amenity, public spaces, gender equality and decent work, cultural heritage, natural endowments and ways of life in situ.
TOURISM SUSTAINABILITY: A NECESSARY ANSWER FOR THE FUTURE
Presentation by Anna Torres
The need to achieve sustainable development in tourism is already indisputable and is widely accepted. However, the main difficulty continues to be its materialization: what strategies, instruments or actions are the best ones to move towards more sustainable scenarios. And the answer is not easy, since it implies a transformation of the traditional tourism production and consumption model, that is, a rethinking of values and priorities and a change in habits and consolidated dynamics in the sector.
A first step in this sense is to consider whether there is a really fair balance between the benefits and costs of tourism. The success of tourism must be measured fairly. Beyond the traditional economic indicators, the climatic emergency, the consumption of resources (water, energy, territory), the quality of life or employment, among others, must take equal importance in the decision processes. It is necessary to have a fair view of the impacts of tourism on destinations to promote truly sustainable tourism policies.
presentation by Ivan Murray
In the last decade, the question of "overtourism" has emerged strongly within academic and social debates. This boom is related to the intensification of the touristification processes in urban spaces after the 2008 crisis. Departing from overtourism as a conceptual or theoretical framework, then we would have that in a dichotomous analysis we should conceptualize spaces of undertourism. As a result, there could be framed a dialectic between overtourism and undertourism. This in turn would be reflected in an uneven geographical development defined by hyper-touristized and under-touristized spaces.
Although the debate on overtourism has played an important role in activating critical reflection about the processes and mechanisms of touristification, it also presents important limits as an analytical framework. Thus, this paper aims to address touristification from the approach of radical political economy in order to understand the logics of the uneven geographical development of touristification. In order to do so, the paper expands upon the theory of planetary urbanization and the theories of crises. Precisely, the recent outbreak of the global pandemic of COVID-19 allows us to elaborate on some of the questions about touristification, beyond the dichotomy overtourism-undertourism. Faced with some voices that point to the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to change the "tourism model" or as "the end of mass tourism", we advocate for a critical look to understand what implications the pandemic crisis may have on the dynamics of planetary touristification.