Community welfare at the centre

Professor Andriotis champions the notion of degrowth in the field of tourism to promote local economies and communities

News / 29.6.18

Professor Konstantinos Andriotis gave his keynote speech “Degrowth in Tourism: Conceptual, Theoretical and Philosophical Issues” at our conference on Transforming tourism from a regional perspective: challenges, visions, ways forward held in Donostia on 3 May 2018. In his speech he explains how tourism is the third largest socioeconomic activity in the European Union (EU).  It contributes significantly to the EU’s gross national product, employment rates, and development indices as it encompasses a growing number ‎of new destinations.

Despite the growth and development of tourism in the European regional context, recent studies have identified problems related to the sustainable use of natural resources, innovation dynamics and specialisation patterns, and the relations between tourism performance and regional sustainable development.

Although tourism has significantly contributed to these problems, it has the potential to significantly contribute to finding new and sustainable solutions.

Degrowth, as a concept applied to tourism, was born after observing the catastrophic effects of the 2008 financial crisis: overuse of resources, space and construction sites specially in peripheral areas highly dependent on tourism.

Overused natural resources and environments, over-developed landscapes, seasonal economies, demographic changes and loss of cultural community undermine local economies, neighbourhoods and identities.

Mass Tourism caused by drop in travelling and accommodation costs can saturate villages mid-size cites and even big metropolis.

Profit generated by tourism is in the hands of a few, but all the inhabitants of the city receive the negative impact. Services and housing become increasingly expensive and locals are forced to move to the outskirts or less expensive suburbs.

Profit generated by tourism is in the hands of a few but all of the inhabitants of the city receive the negative impact

Cities and local lifestyles and customs may also potentially suffer from inappropriate behaviour from the visitors and overcrowding.

Degrowth and alternative models of tourism put the notion of community welfare in the centre.

Degrowth, as a new socio-economic paradigm, promotes benefiting local economies and respect local culture and traditions and aims at reducing poverty, inequalities and increase employment in the area.

It confronts “globalisation” or the proliferation of very limited but global consumption options (like McDonalds or Starbucks) with “localism”: the use and discovery of local resources and promotion of  Kilometre Zero / Km 0 policies or even city currencies, like the Bristol pound.

Current intensity of tourism is not sustainable in the long term.

Degrowth is an invitation to change the way in which tourism is organised: Travelling less intensely, focusing on local economies and with a more equal distribution of the benefit of tourism among the recipient communities.

Current intensity of tourism is not sustainable in the long term. Degrowth induced development is an invitation to change the way in which tourism is organised

For Doctor Konstantinos Andriotis we need to change our behaviour as tourists and as consumers. We need to become more environment friendly and aware of our footprint. Also, to understand and respect the limits of growth. And finally, we need to promote local production and a fair redistribution of the benefits of tourism: Putting the neighbours and communities in control of development decisions that will have an impact in their everyday lives.