Responsible Tourism: A New Era of Responsibility?

The discourse on responsible tourism, although not new, has been given a new lease on life in the wake of COVID-19. Before 2020, global tourism mobilities were unparalleled with seemingly little standing in the way of the juggernaut that tourism had become. Typically, tourism is seen through an economic lens – for the jobs it provides and the impetus it gives to the coffers of governments and the wallets of tourism dependent communities. This has not changed since the tourism growth model was spawned in the 1960s and has only intensified through to the era of overtourism. In invoking the term, New Era of Responsibility, it not too subtly suggests that for global tourism, the reframing that needs to take place is urgent and has been expedited by the pandemic of 2020. What is called for has been broached before and if tourism is to be the panacea of the catalogue of things ascribed to it, business as usual is surely not feasible. The call for an epoch where responsibility is assumed reverberates in talking circles that reference the Anthropocene as a time when the urgency to act with greater responsibility is now, more than ever, vital, given that the demands put upon the planet continue to intensify while the requisite attention needed to allow recovery and replenishment, and to stave off system failure, continually deteriorates. Tourism has become entrenched as a lifestyle phenomenon for many, and a livelihood source for as many more. The call for responsible tourism appeals to finding the balance between competing priorities and most importantly, to acknowledge planetary limitations.

Keywords: responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, overtourism, tourism degrowth

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