Finding the (im)balance between tourism growth and local community development

From the perspective of sustainable tourism development, the involvement of the community has been a key criterion since its inception in the 1980s. Tourism can only be sustainable if the interests of the tourists (quality of experience), tourism industry (quality of opportunity) and the local community (quality of life) are considered in an integrative way.

Economic perspective of tourism

Nowadays, most destinations still approach tourism from an economic perspective. In this view the main aim of tourism is its economic value, and its contribution to economic growth, employment and profit. The viewpoint at the other end of the continuum is that tourism should mainly focus on human values and its contribution to human development.

Locals vs. tourism

Whereas these two subjects can be regarded as the ends of a continuum, it seems that, with the massive rise of international tourism during the past few years, the resilience of destinations is at stake and that, gradually, the view towards tourism seems to change to the advantage of the latter viewpoint. People stand up against tourism developments they do not like. The critique towards international corporations determining the rules of the game is increasing (e.g. airports and airline companies), the resistance of locals towards tourists overrunning their city, their village, or their properties is growing. Locals even stand up more and more against festivalisation of their living environment.

In June 2019 we are hosting a conference for the international members of the ICNT network where they will:

  • Share and discuss examples of balance or imbalance between tourism growth and local community involvement in different places of the world
  • Learn how imminent imbalance can be anticipated in time
  • Discuss how balance can be maintained or imbalances can be prevented, in order to ensure resilience and contribution to sustainable tourism development as it is meant to be.

Registration for the ICNT network members is available here.