Tourism-related land grabbing and displacement in the ‘tourism and development’ and ‘critical tourism studies’ literatures

There is a rich ‘tourism and development’ literature that has examined the complicated relationship between powerful tourism actors hailing from countries in the Global North and emerging tourism destinations in the Global South. The literature ranges from critical yet hopeful studies on pro-poor tourism (e.g. Scheyvens, 2002; Telfer and Sharpley, 2008; Sharpley and Harrison, 2019), political economy/ecology approaches to tourism and development studies (Britton, 1982; Goessling, 2003; Bianchi, 2009, 2015; Mostafanezhad et al., 2016) to postcolonial and post-development critiques of Global South tourism (e.g. Hall and Tucker, 2004; Mowforth and Munt, 2016; Fletcher, 2017), What brings together these different strands of literature is an emphasis on uneven power relations among the various actors involved in tourism development and increased dependencies of ‘peripheral’ states in the Global South on wealthy ‘core’ economies in the Global North. Matthews (1978, p. 79) described tourism as a ‘new colonial plantation economy’ whereby “[mjetropolitan capitalistic countries try to dominate the foreign tourism market”, while Crick (1989, p. 322) viewed tourism in the developing world as a form of “leisure imperialism” and “the hedonistic face of neocolonialism” (cited in Hall and Tucker, 2004, pp. 4—5). For Gonsalves (1993, p. 11) “modern tourism is an extension of colonialism (with all the attributes of a master-servant relationship)”.

Yet land grabbing, dispossession and displacement associated with tourism development have rarely been the central focus of this literature. For instance, Hall and Tucker (2004) examine ‘displacement’ from a tourism, migration and diaspora perspective rather than exploring violent forms of tourism-related dispossession and displacement. Mowforth and Munt (2016) dedicate a small section of their book Tourism and Sustainability: Development, Globalisation and New Tourism in the Third World to ‘displacement and resettlement’ with a focus on disaster capitalism following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (cf. Chapter 5), evictions for tourism purposes during Myanmar’s military rule (cf. Chapter 6) and the forced displacement of the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania (cf. Chapter 7). In their book Tourism and Development in the Developing World, Telfer and Sharpley (2008) discuss tourism-related ‘relocation’ in a one-page sub-section, drawing on secondary sources from Mexico and China. Likewise, Nkyi and Hashimoto (2015) in their book chapter on ‘human rights issues in tourism development’ dedicate less than a page on ‘displacement’, referring mostly to Keefe and Wheat’s (2008) examples from Tanzania, Kenya and Cuba.

One of the earliest case studies on tourism and displacement in the Global South was conducted in the Gambia by social anthropologists B.E. Harrell-Bond and D.L. Harrell-Bond (1979) who examined how foreign tourism investors were lured into the country by tax breaks and other incentives and with funding from the African Development Bank, the German Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaujbau (Credit Bank for Reconstruction) and the World Bank, thereby physically and economically displacing local communities and industries. Yet the study provided information on the foreignisation of Gambia’s tourism industry at the macro-level only, without delving into a deeper analysis of locallevel land acquisitions, dispossessions and displacements. Similarly, political economist Stephen Britton (1982), who developed an enclave model for Third World tourism, pointed to the problems of foreign control of the tourism industry and leakage of foreign exchange earnings, drawing on examples from Fiji and the Cook Islands, two small island developing states in the Southwest Pacific. However, his analysis did not provide insights into how tourism-related land grabbing impacted the customary rights of local communities and to what extent it caused physical or economic displacement.

International attention to tourism-related land grabs and displacement in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century was primarily raised by international human rights advocacy groups, such as — recently deregistered — UKbased tourism watchdog Tourism Concern (e.g. Eriksson et al., 2009). Critical media outlets, such as The Guardian or Al Jazeera have also widely reported on land grabbing by foreign tourism investors in the Global South, particularly in post-disaster, post-conflict and ‘conservation for tourism’ contexts. Research into post-disaster land grabbing for tourism purposes was greatly influenced by Naomi Klein’s notion of ‘disaster capitalism’ in her seminal book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Klein, 2007; cf. Neef and Grayman, 2018). Attention to the contentious linkages between tourism, conservation and displacement has been augmented by Brockington, Duffy and Igoe’s (2008) book Nature Unbound: Conservation, Capitalism and the Future of Protected Areas. The authors draw attention to how ecotourism has been employed to justify and legitimate dispossession and displacement in the name of conservation.

In the 2010s, the ‘critical tourism studies’ literature has made important contributions to examining tourism-related land grabbing and displacement at local, regional and national levels (Cohen, 2011; Gonzalez, 2013; Devine, 2014). Conceptually, there have also been advances towards identifying some of the major mechanisms and drivers of land grabbing associated with tourism development in the Global South, most notably by critical scholars in the field of ‘violent tourism geographies’ (Devine and Ojeda, 2017; Biischer and Fletcher, 2017; Salazar, 2017). These scholars have linked tourism development in the Global South to violent practices of nation-building, place commodification, border securitisation and state territorialisation (e.g., Devine, 2017; Devine and Ojeda, 2017; for an overview, see Gibson, 2019). Most recently, the geopolitical dimensions of tourism-driven land grabbing and state territorialisation have also been highlighted both empirically and conceptually (e.g. Rowen, 2018; Gillen and Mostafanezhad, 2019; Mostafanezhad, 2020).

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