Future Thinking Through Regenerative Tourism Education in Samoa: Experiential Learning Perspectives with Australian University Students

This article discusses the importance of embedding future thinking, on the ground, experiential learning into the higher education curriculum. While sustainable tourism has focused on alternative forms of tourism that have less impacts on natural environments and host communities, these approaches have not gone far enough to address issues stemming from capitalist growth models. Instead, we argue that tourism researchers and professionals need to focus on implementing models that ‘regenerate’, not merely ‘sustain’ destinations. Students will be future professionals in the industry and need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to drive more responsible forms of tourism. The article summarises the initial expectations to final reflections from a recent trip to Samoa, with a group of 18 students from the University of Newcastle Australia, who are also co-authors of this article.  The main purpose of the trip was for students to better understand issues related to how climate change (as a result of unequal resource exploitation and impacts) is a key issue that directly affects low lying islands such as Samoa and to consider the enables and barriers for solving environmental challenges that incorporate cultural, societal and community knowledge. Students visited local organisations including businesses, NGOs, NFPs to gain a sense of working on the ground towards regenerative futures. These insights were gained into regenerative tourism through their involvement with the local community of Moata’a with a three day immersive homestay experience and engaged in strengthening partnerships between the University of Newcastle and local communities and businesses.

Keywords: Experiential education, regenerative tourism, sustainability, climate change, Samoa

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