Massive relocation of residents has been a persistent feature of sports megaevents and large-scale tourism infrastructure projects. Displacement was particularly pronounced in the run-up to the 2010 Men’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the 2014 Men’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. All three major sports events had in common that disadvantaged groups — urban squatters, homeless people and street vendors — were further marginalised and disenfranchised by the construction of stadiums and urban renewal schemes. Legitimised by a ‘public purpose’ and ‘tourism and security’ discourse, the economic and social conditions of the urban poor deteriorated further in the process, while urban elites and large corporations benefitted the most, as large funds were channelled into the production of new urban spaces for the privileged. Protests and emerging resistance alliances against the adverse impacts of these sports mega-events were dismissed by government officials as unpatriotic and treasonous. As the examples from India, Laos and Mexico have shown, large-scale tourism infrastructure projects for airports and railways have also been associated with involuntary relocation, forced land acquisition, destruction of livelihoods and erasure of local cultures. The case of resettlement for the airport upgrade in Luang Prabang testifies to the discrepancy between relocation planning and practice, whereby resettled minority populations find themselves in much worse living conditions than before, despite the legitimising rhetoric of state agencies and international financial institutions that underpins these developments. Resistance to such large-scale tourism infrastructure projects is almost non-existent under the authoritarian regime of the Government of Laos. Yet, even in democracies,
Mega-events and tourism infrastructure 181 such as India and Mexico, where resistance movements have a long tradition, protests have had very limited success rates.
The next chapter will synthesise the findings from Chapters 3-9. It will draw on Harvey’s (2006) mechanisms involved in processes of ‘accumulation by dispossession’, privatisation, financialisation, management and manipulation of crises, and state redistributions. Then it will explore four practices of dispossession, namely eviction, enclosure, extraction and erasure, that have been a work in the 31 case studies discussed. The chapter will conclude with an examination of resistance movements against tourism-related land grabs and displacement.
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10 Tourism-related land grabs