Transfrontier Conservation Areas - People Living on the Edge
Edited by Jens A. Andersson, Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky, David H.M. Cumming, Vupenyu Dzingirai and Ken E. Giller.
Routledge, ISBN 978-1-84971-208-8, August 2012 – 216 pages
The book, a product of collaboration between Wageningen University (Netherlands), CIRAD (France) and the Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) of the University of Zimbabwe, sets out to criticize the new and rapidly growing trend of Transfrontier conservation areas in Southern Africa by focusing on the ‘forgotten people displaced by, or living on the edge’ of Transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) mainly in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and dispute the “dream of eco-tourism-fuelled development supporting nature conservation” or the “development of rural communities through cross-border collaboration”. Unfortunately it is not always easy to detect the voice and direct opinions of the forgotten and displaced local people in this book. There is limited political analysis on the effects of capitalism and neo-imperialism in the design of TFCAs, the underlying economic motives and geopolitical forces. With some exceptions, the book has a general pro-business / pro-development line and the otherwise highly informative and detailed content reflects the research interests of the 24 contributors half of whom hail from the global north and the other are from South Africa and Zimbabwe: rural development sociology, tropical agronomy, smallholder farming and migration, park administration, ecology, veterinarian livestock-wildlife interactions, conservation, consultancy, social anthropology, sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems. Surprisingly, after all parks are being discussed, there is no contributor specializing in tourism in parks, and as a result tourism seems to be given short-shrift throughout the book with “eco-tourism” ‘wildlife-based tourism” and “sport hunting” being occasionally and interchangeably mentioned. In a future edition, a chapter dealing with the forms and impacts, positive and negative, of tourism inside TFCAs would certainly increase the value of this book and expand its audience.
As duly explained in the foreword and introductory chapter, the idea of peace parks and Transfrontier parks go back to the colonial 1930s but the concept has been reintroduced in the early 21st century as an “apolitical” top-bottom, high-level exercise when the post-colonial paradigm of Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) became out of fashion, due to local ‘heterogeneity’, lack of ‘legal frameworks’ and “centralism”. Aimed as an antidote to the errors and absurdities of colonially drawn boundaries that have led to many wars and civil wars, the TFCAs were established and are managed, according to the authors, without consultation with local populations. Chapter 2 finds that people have been invisible in conservationist perspectives, often seen as an impediment and illustrates that the formation of TFCAs was a high-level process. CBNRM literature sometimes “idealizes” sometimes “victimizes” local people. Chapter 3 explores the meaning of the complex mosaic of soft and hard boundaries, from fences to overlapping jurisdictions to areas of customary authority. It accurately determines the origins of protected area boundaries as the leftovers of a process of land alienation that resulted in a racial division of land, directly serving the political and economic interests of white settlers. Chapter 4 describes the heterogeneity of livelihoods in TFCAs, population changes and the huge variety in livelihood pursuits, socio-cultural orientations and challenges. It disputes that TFCAs become honey pots in terms of population growth. Chapter 5 deals with ethnic and cultural heterogeneity in rural communities within TFCAs, which ‘impinges’ on efforts to collectively manage natural resources with some ethnic groups feeling that protected areas further encroach on their livelihoods. Chapter 6 analyzes the agro-ecological marginality of TFCAs, the relatively weak presence of the state, and the illegal activities that take place. TFCAs seem to increase the ‘curse of the edge’ rather than increase it by adding to the complexity. Chapter 7 focuses on wild and domestic animal movements across the boundaries of protected areas, the complexities of greater availability of grazing, woodland products and illegal hunting. Chapter 8 deals with the direct and indirect consequences of these movements. Farmers cannot claim for crop damages and livestock loss and are not normally compensated by governments, which is a major cause of dissatisfaction. Increased employment through tourism in the protected areas is contested. Chapter 9 studies opportunities for wildlife-based entreprises, the context for development and livelihood opportunities in TFCAs and welfare improvement possibilities. Unfortunately hunting is being greenwashed and authors treat wildlife as a resource that can be ‘harvested’. They also accept propose the provision of ecosystem services such as water and carbon sequestration.
The concluding Chapter 10 notes that the objectives of TFCAs, some of which are larger than some African countries need to be revisited so as to include development. The key message seems to be that old-style fortress conservation or conservation plus non-consumptive tourism cannot deliver the goods thus hunting and profit-hunting through realistic alternatives (read neoliberal recipes) such as water and carbon sequestration should be pursued, always for the sake of local communities.
It is difficult to agree with such a conclusion, indeed one that does not follow from the evidence provided in this worthwhile book, which is rich in historical details, bibliographical references and facts. A chapter considering the potential contribution of non-consumptive, ecological, community-owned tourism within TFCAs could have led to an alternative conclusion. Although the impact of tourism may be underestimated, one is convinced from the analysis in the book that most TFCAs in Southern Africa are a top-down bureaucratic and international donors exercise leading to paper parks and that the local communities do not benefit from their existence or actively take part in decision-making so as to change this. A move back to the colonial model of ‘fortress conservation’ is hopefully out of the question. It is however highly unlikely that a move towards neoliberal recipes such as REDD, water and carbon sequestration and an even greater hunting tourism, would contribute to local well-being and economic democracy. On the contrary, they would probably contribute, by increasing inequality and conflicting interests, to more subversion of protected areas by local people such as ‘illegal’ settlements, land invasion and poaching. An answer could be, smaller, community-owned and managed parks with active community, cultural and ecological tourism and subsistence agriculture bordering with other such smaller parks, rather than sprawling chaotic parks. But the longer term answer, as parks may not exist in a vacuum, is surely countries where social justice, ecology and direct democracy prevail everywhere (not just inside protected areas), which are on good terms with their neighbours, enabling open borders for local people, rather than for capital, rich donors, investors and hunters of all sorts from the global north. Genuine ‘peace parks’ may be the end result of such a process; at this point it is unclear if they are also the means.
Tourism, Climate Change & Sustainability
Edited by Maharaj Vijay Reddy and Keith Wilkes.
Routledge, ISBN: 978-1-84971-422-8, September 2012 - 284 pages
This volume, edited by Bournemouth University’s Maharaj Vijay Reddy and Keith Wilkes, was written in the run up to Rio +20 (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - 20-22 June 2012) and almost a year later remains a valuable contribution. Its main strength, and at the same time a weakness, is that it inardventedly reflects and records the non-binding attitudes towards Climate Change (CC) in global and tourism governance as well as the indifferent (or perhaps hypocritical) stance of big tourism and the inertia of many small businesses. A central assumption running through most chapters is that CC is now inevitable and that businesses and vulnerable destinations, with or without the help of their governments need to quickly wake up so as to adapt or reinvent themselves and limit the damage to them. None of the authors consider at all alternative scenarios, such as systemic success in avoiding CC through reform or a technological revolution, or radical (grassroots) antisystemic change in tourism, the broader economy and society along the lines of the climate justice movement.
The book tries to match and balance research initiatives with case studies worldwide. Chapters are broken into three categories : 1. Sustainability, climate change and tourism: conceptual issues, 2. Responses and initiatives of regional, national and international agencies, and 3. Emerging techniques and research implications. The contributors hail from four continents and 10 countries (Netherlands, Botswana, Brazil, Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Finland). Nearly all are academics (unfortunately no practitioners), including 5 PhD students – an indication of growing academic interest in CC. The authors specialisations include tourism management, environmental systems analysis, environmental economics, environmental engineering and psychodynamics. Peculiarly there is little material on the continental United States, key tourism destinations such as Spain, and China, India and Russia which are all pivotal in all CC discussions.
The introductory chapter (Ch. 1) sets out the agenda and usefully reviews the long and arduous process for policy-makers in realising the interdependencies between sustainability and tourism in the 40 years from Stockholm 1972, to the 1987 Bruntland Commission to IPCC 1988, Rio 1992, to Kyoto Protocol 1997, to Copenhagen 2009, and Rio +20. The role of Tourism for sustainable development was only acknowledged after Rio 1992, with recommendations for the tourism industry to adopt the Agenda 21 principles. The first international conference on Climate Change and Tourism took place in Djerba 2003 and a second followed in Davos 2007. Chapter 2 deals with social representations (‘everyday theories’) or perceptions of climate change and finds that climate change remains an unfamiliar concept for many tourists, while the emphasis in discussions of sustainable tourism is still on changing rather than cutting consumption. Chapter 3 researches Australian SMEs and did not find a strong consumer commitment to travelling green, but noted that evaluation, accreditation, public relations and collaborative partnerships are considered important for sustainable innovations. Chapter 4 involves a qualitative research and in-depth interviews with executives of major Hawaii tourism entreprises and found a slow uptake of mitigation and adaptation strategies. In Chapter 5 the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme Director presents UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in an expectedly positive manner and touches on greening opportunities for tourism within the reserves including income generation via carbon offsets from business partners and visitors. Chapter 6 finds that climate change will probably benefit the South-West of England, already Britain’s foremost holiday destination, by improving weather conditions during the summer and shoulder seasons but may also bring extreme weather incidents. Chapter 7 argues that governments in Australia and New Zealand were indecisive until at least 2007, in the case of Australia also due to the climate sceptical position of the prime-minister.
Chapter 8, among the most valuable chapters, discusses the results of 3 surveys conducted by the authors: 350 tourism entreprises in Lake District National Park in UK (2001) 214 rural entreprises in Scotland (2005) and a mixed group (rural and urban) in 2011. Comparatively few of these entreprises (12% in 2001, 25% in 2006 and 19% in 2011) have developed an environmental policy while cynicism and ambivalence about green ideas are common. The authors think that further green steps can only be accomplished through regulation rather than on a voluntary basis, but also find the likelihood of such regulations being introduced as very low due to the influence of powerful professional tourism associations. Chapter 9 argues that the current global tourism growth and resulting air transport emissions are at odds with global emission reduction targets unless carbon-neutral fuels replace current ones. Based on a sample of long-term surveys, the authors derive that relying on carbon pricing will not curb emissions but that a closed carbon trading scheme for aviation could force through some progress. Chapter 10 investigates the possible reaction of tourists to the potential impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) mainly coral death (bleaching) from rising sea surface temperature with ensuing reef ecosystem decline but also acidification, increased storms, rising sea levels, terrestrial runoff. Comparative visitor surveys in a pristine and a damaged GBR location found that truthful promotion and the presence of sufficient fish and marine animals can compensate for damaged coral. Chapter 11 deals with 6 small island developing states (SIDS) in the pacific where climate change is their most important threat (mainly due to sea level rise) while tourism is their major employer and still growing rapidly despite the global economic downturn. The not so surprising findings are that pacific SIDS have a long and uncertain way to go in terms of climate-change adaptation. Chapter 12 plays various climate change scenarios in coastal northeast Brazil and their impact on tourism flows through changes in sea level reduction of river flows, loss of coastline and salinization. Chapter 13 discusses how little climate change has so far influenced the tourism development strategies of Finland and other Nordic countries. Chapter 14 includes a case study in Kgalagadi (“Land of the Thirst”) and Okavango Delta in Botswana where operators were not only aware of the impacts of climate change but many believed that they were already witnessing them in the form of higher temperature and vegetation loss. Some respondents were focusing on maintaining tourists comfort through - ironically - the use of air-conditioning. Chapter 15 examines if and how an individual’s concern about climate change manifests in different tourism behaviour. It involved 30 open-ended, semi-structured interviews with tourist consumers (mostly academics) in UK and Norway in 2008 and based on the replies focuses on possible ‘inconsistencies’ between everyday life and travel, including one’s unwillingness to offset air flights or avoiding long-haul flights altogether. The book, is on the other hand consistent, as it is printed on ‘paper from responsible sources’ and should find its position on university library shelves. Chapters are well written avoiding jargon, provide detailed bibliography and quite a few tables and graphs.
The questions remain, will any dinosaurs of big tourism (and aviation) manage to evolve into small birds so as to survive the impact of the Climate Change "asteroid", if that does occur? Or, rather than waiting, could we perhaps divert the course of the CC asteroid by getting rid of such dinosaurs and their equivalents in other sectors?
Green Growth and Travelism: letters from leaders
Edited by Geoffrey Lipman, Terry DeLacy, Shaun Vorster, Rebecca Hawkins and Min Jiang.
Goodfellow Publishers, ISBN: 978-1-908999-17-7, June 2012
As useful grassroots case studies are, sometimes you need the big picture, the whole forest and not just the trees, ideally from informed detached and objective observers and opinionated actors/participants alike, who genuinely share your aims for a better, ecological and socially just world. This book is about the big picture and includes the views, presented in the forms of “letters”, of 46 leading tourism practitioners, entrepreneurs, heads of international bodies, politicians, civil servants and academics. The letter length and depth (including depth of environmental convictions) varies significantly, as do opinions and agendas although nearly all are in the centre-right of the political spectrum: pro new-green-economy, pro-big-industry/multinationals, pro-growth, pro self-regulation, anti-tax. There is also a certain promotional / self-congratulatory approach in some of the letters by heads of companies and tourism officials which is fortunately offset by the chapters (letters) contributed by leading tourism academics. It is not a big surprise not being able to find radical green or anti-systemic views in this volume, yet one would have expected the editors to include some environmental, social and travel grassroots and tourism employee representatives among the ‘leaders’ and more representation from the global south.
The book opens with a rather optimistic preface by Maurice Strong, to whom the book is dedicated, who served as the first executive director of UNEP and was instrumental in making the historic 1992 Rio Earth Summit happen also serving as its Secretary General. Strong recognises that green tourism is no longer a fringe idea but a necessity for the whole (mainstream) industry and consequently calls for regulatory, voluntary and market-based mechanisms to achieve this. He makes a special reference to China and its immense potential and responsibilities for a greener global tourism.
Among many interesting thoughts and proposals by the contributors, more memorable ones include the use of aviation taxes and market-based emission management mechanisms to fund fleet emission cuts through research and fleet renewal so that aviation’s carbon burden is not ‘disproportionate’ ; the revamping of tourism education to integrate green ideas; the recognition of Ecotourism as a ‘specific green growth element and an important beacon for the sector’; the importance of ‘eliminating’ greenwashing and encouraging certification programs and the ‘smart’ development of national parks so as to stimulate green growth.
Among the best contributions is the one by Professor Harold Goodwin who reveals some inconvenient (for the gradual reform approach) truths: there has been too much ‘talk of sustainability and too little taking of responsibility’, tourism remains a privilege of the relatively wealthy, tourism reveals inequality, the consumer will not pay a premium for sustainable tourism, communities have not benefited from community-based tourism - favourite of donors and NGOs, while the elephant in the room remains travel, particularly aviation, pollution. Other valuable and inspiring accounts include Vanessa Scotts’, who shares her experience running a small environmental award-winning hotel in Norfolk UK and by Tony Charters who discusses the ongoing relevance of Ecotourism as a spear carrier for green progress. Less inspiring, but revealing of systemic dead ends, are a number of contributions discussing the current impasse between EU and many other countries over the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and its ‘unfair’ impact on non-EU airlines.
The book, which is published to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rio Summit and officially launched during the recent Rio+20 Summit in June 2012 concludes with a useful index of acronyms and abbreviations to help you get through the enviro-jargon. An index and bibliographical references would have been useful in supporting the many interesting facts and figures presented.
Overall the editors and contributors make a convincing case for establishing ‘Travelism’ (travel - including aviation - and tourism) as a unified policy field, so ‘Green Growth and Travelism’ will hopefully find a place on quality travel(ist) company and decision-maker libraries, perhaps not as an academic reference but certainly as a snapshot of mainstream green travel(ist) wisdom of the early 21st century.
Crete: The Roots of the Mediterranean Diet - Enjoying the benefits of one of the world's healthiest cuisines wherever you live.
by Nikki Rose with contributions by Panayiotis Moldovanidis and Patricia " Scout" Hazouri.
Blurb, August 2012, 120 pgs.
There are hundreds of guidebooks for the island of Crete, as it is a developed tourism destination brimming with famous ancient sights, as the cradle of the Minoan Civilisation, one of the oldest anywhere, at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with a mild climate and a melting pot, with Minoans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians and Turkish having left their mark over the past 4,000 years. At the same time, there are many cook books on offer as Cretan Cuisine (Cretan Diet) has caught the eye of scientists since the 1950s and today is acknowledged as one of the healthiest. However this book is the suitable choice for savvy eco-travellers and aspiring chefs alike since the author is both an award-winning organiser of culinary agro-tours in Crete and a professional Chef.
It is not always easy to objectively review environmental or other contentious issues in a tourism destination and still convince the reader that it is worth visiting it (or at least buy the book), however this cookbook-guidebook, a joint product of enthusiasm and first-hand knowledge succeeds both in making you want to visit (or revisit) the finest bits of Crete, safely hidden away - so far - from the mostly boozing clients of the mass-tourism-developed northern coast and to hone your organic cooking skills with unusual but healthy Cretan dishes and mezes. But even if you have zero skills, you will be pleasantly surprised with the many traditional rinse-and-eat options . Along the way, readers, especially young ones will be convinced, through a series of delightful personal accounts, about the merits of a healthy diet and hopefully abandon processed food, fast-food and their life-style equivalents and consequences.
A useful and balanced content structure, a fresh, opinionated and humorous writing style, appealing and informative pictures, invaluable general cooking tips, many detailed recipes (with Index) and equally digestible doses of Cretan history and traditions await the reader, interspersed with more sobering but accurate references to some ongoing threats to the traditional way of life and the local environment of Crete, which is facing, along with, but much less than, the rest of Greece, an acute economic and social crisis. In fact there is a growing current of young people who leave large cities like Athens and Thessaloniki and move back to the villages of their ancestors in the countryside to engage in organic agriculture, and in a way this book is part of this trend. If your visit to Crete (and other places) is well-researched and planned, and this takes place also by reading quality books such as this, it can support a lot of real village-based people doing great work against the odds and in return you get back an authentic experience.
In terms of expanding its use as a travel book this volume could be perhaps further improved in future editions, either by the addition of an ecotravel chapter, or by linking key recipes to specific locations and including related travel info about agrotourism and ecotourism options in these locations (such as contacts and websites). The author is a Greek-American professional chef, writer, and cultural-culinary seminar director who founded the award-winning Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries Eco-Agritourism Network (CCS) in 1997. The proceeds from the book support CCS programs.
Best Practice in Accessible Tourism - Inclusion, Disability, Ageing Population and Tourism
Edited by Dimitrios Buhalis, Simon Darcy and Ivor Ambrose
Channel View Publications, ISBN: 978-1-84541-252-4, February 2012
This is a timely publication as thousands of paralympians prepare to travel to London, some of them, along with many others among the estimated 500 million disabled travellers, will have experienced unjustified refusals and other unfair demands when attempting to board planes, especially low-cost-carriers, when trying to locate and book affordable accommodation or simply enjoy a day or a night out. Accessible Tourism covers tourists with special, temporary or permanent, mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive access requirements and as such also includes obese, senior and very young travellers but also employees - for example hotel employees having to carry bulky guest luggages through narrow paths and steep stairs.
Nearly all of the 33 contributing authors offering case studies from 12 countries have a direct specialisation in Accessible Tourism (AT), in the provision and/or study of the provision of tourism and other services to people with disabilities and diverse backgrounds in academia, consultancy, destination management, tourism businesses, NGOs and disability advocacy groups. An insider, no-nonsense perspective is also present throughout as many of the contributors are people with disability themselves.
This is only the second academic book written in English which is wholly dedicated to accessible tourism, following the companion volume 'Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues" (Buhalis & Darcy, 2011) which mainly covered theoretical aspects. Both books originated in an EU project called "One-Stop-Shop for Accessible Tourism in Europe (OSSATE) which aimed to improve the delivery of accessible travel information.
The volume categorises the 24 chapters around five themes as follows: Policies and Strategies, Networks and Partnerships, The Accessible Tourism Value Chain, Destination Development and finally Accessible Tourism Experiences, presented in an order which reflects the necessary and interlinked stages for producing accessible tourism. Using an international, multidisciplinary perspective It highlights state-of-the art-practices but also reveals policy and practice shortcomings in a wide thematic and geographic range of topics including European Union tourism policy, national and regional AT policies (UK, Australia, Germany, United States among others), architectural design, marketing, training and accessible destination management (VisitOSLO & VisitBritain being good cases - Chapters 20 & 22 as well as Tourism Flanders which introduced its own accessible AT label in 2008) as well as pioneering products such as accessible dive tourism.
Among the many good chapters, the best and most detailed chapters are those analysing policies at the European Union Level (Ch. 2), in Australia (Ch.7), in Vienna (Ch. 16) and certainly Chapter 17 on designing Accessible Hotels, by Katerina Papamichail who draws on her practical experience with the 2004 Paralympic Village in Athens. This chapter should be of particular interest to readers who are heritage tourism, adventure and nature tourism practitioners, owners and developers of new Lodges, small Hotels and Inns, few of whom, regrettably, are disabled-friendly usually under an excuse of remoteness, dangerous terrain or pre-existing historic / traditional buildings. The last chapter, as is frequently the case, is very important as it deals with staff training and how it is paramount for delivering a quality accessible tourism experience - no matter how good the infrastructure or legislation is, an inconsiderate or indifferent service will destroy all prior efforts, however it is rather short and deals only with Spain. The book would have been even better if it also included a chapter or two on economic accessibility (affordability), how easy it is for disabled tourists and senior tourists to afford the extra cost of luxury accommodation and tours that offer the necessary infrastructure, and exploring the linkages between accessible tourism with social tourism. There is unfortunately no keyword-Index, while a few chapters do not seem to cover developments after 2008-2009. The concluding chapter at the end is too short (perhaps understandably so as it is a companion book), as are bibliographical references provided in some of the chapters, although this is expected given the relative general absence of AT academic bibliography.
Most of the authors provide evidence which directly or indirectly acknowledges that accessible tourism is not practiced, recognised as a mainstream segment, statistically measured, marketed or even known as a concept in the vast majority of destinations, even in global north countries which take pride in their high standard of living, although progress is finally being made in the past decade, especially in Germany, the UK and Australia, as technology has become cheaper and through new laws. At the same time, the book argues that even small changes would have made a big difference in developing a more inclusive and accessible tourism product. Readers should ponder what are the deeper causes of this supply-side inertia. Is there a deliberate exclusion of a "tourism for all" by a socioeconomic & cultural system which on the one hand glorifies 'able', 'beautiful', 'successful' people and produces tourism packages for the rest of us which mimic (but certainly do not reproduce) their lifestyles for 1 week, but at the same time wishes to avoid 'costly' infrastructure and time-consuming services and individualised attention opting for glorified mass tourism products. How realistic will it be to move forward without binding international, national and local legislation and regulations, simply by relying on market forces and their voluntary 'self-regulation - response to advocacy group pressure (or demand). After all is accessibility (just) a question of 'a real (?) economic opportunity' for tourism businesses, an issue to be taken care of by charitable organisations, or rather, one hopes, a key human rights issue to be seriously addressed by governments (and bodies such as the UNWTO) with the active participation and consultation of disabled travellers, as Andrew Wright points out in Chapter 14. Does a ferry elevator for the disabled or an adapted hotel bathroom have to "pay off" through a cynic cost-benefit analysis before a decision can be made to install them? And worse, is there a muted industry move towards discrimination-segregation, similar to how most of the tourism industry treats Social Tourism? Consider why disabled information is almost a taboo in most hotel brochures, even when the infrastructure is more or less in place.
Overall this pioneering, interesting collection and detailed discussion of Accessible Tourism best-cases and shortcomings in many destinations is a must-read for tourism policy makers and consultants at the international, national and local levels, and, one hopes, that quality tourism practitioners in the ecotourism sector will also take an interest.