Even when people are not physically displaced by a land grab and are allowed to stay on the land they occupy, they may face various forms of enclosure of land and resources that they could hitherto use freely. Table 10.2 shows some typical examples from the case studies.

As Saarinen and Wall-Reinius (2019, p. 746) remind us, tourism is a form of land use, and gated communities and enclave-style resorts in particular are “manifestations of territorialization and privatization” and “create socio-spatial patterns of inclusions and exclusions”. Thereby, tourism enclaves can have dramatic impacts on local people’s access to essential resources, such as clean water (Gossling et al, 2012; Cole et al., 2020).

The examples discussed in previous chapters and summarised in Table 10.2 show that tourism-related enclosure may restrict people’s access to a range of other natural resources, such as the foreshore, inshore fishing grounds or seaweed plantations, mangrove areas, communal pastures, and forests. Enclosures may also cut off people’s access to vital local infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, schools and markets. New land use regulations associated with the delineation of a tourism zone or a conservation area may also constitute a form of enclosure. In sum, enclosure of resources previously held in common by social groups have an adverse impact on people’s livelihoods and can constitute a serious form of economic, social and cultural displacement.


Despite its ‘feel-good’ image and an increasingly vivid international discourse around ‘sustainable tourism’, the tourism sector is in many ways an extractive industry. Several international studies have recently pointed to the enormous water footprint of tourism (e.g. Gossling et al., 2012; Becken, 2014). Tourism consumes high amounts of water both during the construction process and the operation of facilities and services, including swimming pools, golf courses, laundry, spas, gardens and catering. A study in the water-stressed island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, found that hotels’ average daily water use per room was close to 1,500 litres, 16 times higher than the daily water consumption of local

Case study Characteristics

Philippines (Southeast Asia) Chapter 3

Vanuatu (South Pacific) Chapter 4

Mauritius (Africa) Chapter 4

Haiti (Caribbean) Chapter 5

India (South


Chapter 7

Guatemala (Central America) Chapter 8

On Boracay Island (Western Visayas region) and in Hacienda Looc (Batangas province), the delineation of tourism economic zones and expansion of large-scale resort complexes has pushed Indigenous and non-indigenous communities to the fringes and rendered coastal areas and fishing grounds inaccessible to subsistence farmers and fisherfolks. In the South Pacific island Efate, part of the archipelago of Vanuatu, rampant leases of customary-owned coastal areas to expatriate tourism developers has restricted local residents’ access to beachfront areas and made near-shore fishing — previously important for women’s livelihoods - difficult or even impossible.

In the Black River District of this small island state, rapid expansion of the residential tourism market has led to the enclosure of beach areas by large-scale tourism enclaves and gated communities that exclude local residents from access to affordable housing and evokes sentiments of foreign domination, reminiscent of the colonial era.

An enclave resort owned by cruise company Royal Caribbean on the northern shores of the country bars locals from accessing beaches and inshore fisheries and allows only selected local vendors to sell souvenirs. On the southern island of lie a Vache, airport and road constructions for a failed tourism project have enclosed smallholders’ farmland, coconut plantations and communally held natural resources.

In the Similipal Tiger Reserve in the State of Odisha, communities that remained in the core zone of this wildlife sanctuary faced severe restrictions regarding their access to forest resources, particularly nontimber forest products (NTFPs); the ongoing enclosure of communally used resources by the park authorities is expected to ’motivate’ tribal and indigenous peoples to leave the tiger reserve.

The controversial Maya Security and Conservation Partnership program in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala — promoted by an American archaeologist, a group of US senators and a Guatemalan corporate foundation — threatens to absorb portions of community-based forest concessions into national parks and crowd out local tourism initiatives through massive tourism infrastructure.

households (Tourism Concern, 2012). As the examples in Table 10.3 show, other resources that are often extracted to make way for tourism infrastructure or to build mega-resorts are fruit trees, mangrove forests and timber trees that play a vital role in sustaining local livelihoods.

As exemplified by the case of Cancún in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula (cf. Table 10.3 and Chapter 3), sand mining has become a novel but increasingly common extractive practice in tourism. In the Maldives, for example, luxury resorts on private islands have reportedly extracted sand from adjacent islands to beautify, stabilise and protect their beaches for tourists, while exposing islands inhabited by the local population to the risk of storm surges and rising sea levels (pers. comm., Inaz Ahmad).

Mechanisms, practices, impacts, resistance 193

Table 10.3 Practices of dispossession in tourism - Extraction

Case study


Mexico (North America) Chapter 3

Around the Cancún megaresort and along the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, hundreds of hectares of mangrove forests have been removed to make way for beach resorts and other tourism developments. Sand has been mined from nearby islands and from the ocean floor to temporarily restore beaches after major storm events. Scarce freshwater resources are prioritised for the hotel industry and foreign tourists.

Timor-Leste (West Pacific) Chapter 3

Large-scale infrastructure projects for tourism development in the Oecusse-Ambeno enclave of Timor-Leste have removed fruit trees, gardens and wells from the indigenous Meti people without proper compensation. In addition to the economic loss of timber and fruit from extracted trees, residents also lost important markers of their ownership claims.

Indonesia (Southeast Asia)

Chapter 4

On the island of Bali, Indonesia’s prime tourist destination, and in emerging tourist centres in East Nusa Tenggara Province, the expansion of beach resort tourism has led to the extraction of massive amounts of water from aquifers that are under stress, thus compromising local residents’ access to freshwater; water shortages place a disproportional impact on women.

Costa Rica (Central America) Chapter 4

Water demand of the rapidly growing resort and residential tourism sector in Guanacaste Province is inadequately recorded, but water extraction rates are increasing and have led to claims of water scarcity by residents in some places. In the Sardinal district, salinisation of aquifers has been reported, due to overexploitation by hotels.

India (South


Chapter 9

Greenfield airport expansion in the southwestern Indian state Goa has led to the extraction of thousands of trees and the diversion of agricultural irrigation water to feed the airport’s water demand. The construction work has removed reserved forests, infringed on wetlands and water bodies and destroyed archaeologically and religiously important sites.

Air, water and plastic pollution are also major features of tourism’s extractive practices, with detrimental impacts on affected people’s health and wellbeing. In many coastal tourist destinations in the Global South, hotels dump their wastewater directly into the ocean, raising concerns about human health and the integrity of coastal ecosystems (e.g. Gossling, 2003; Wilkinson, 2003; Ong, Storey and Minnery, 2011). In the Maldives, an artificial island - Thilafushi - has been created to contain all the waste from the country’s holiday islands.


The final practice of dispossession discussed here and illustrated by a set of examples from the case studies is erasure. This practice is often at play when a dominant ethnic or political group in society or an occupying force instrumentalises the tourism sector for purposes of cultural domination, annihilation of specific cultural and religious practices or appropriation of cultural artefactsand archaeologically important places. Such processes of erasure through tourism are exemplified by several examples in Table 10.4.

Erasure can be a sudden or forceful event, e.g. when a tourist resort is built on the burial grounds of an indigenous group, but it can also be a slow process of cultural erosion. The continuous foreignisation of space that often occurs in the wake of residential tourism development is one example for a gradual erasure of local culture. Some tourism stakeholders may appropriate minority and Indigenous cultures through some form of ‘Disneyfication’ or ‘museumi-fication’, where certain cultural elements (e.g. exotic dances or traditional clothes) are displayed for tourism purposes, while other elements (e.g. certain spiritual practices) are denied or erased.

Table 10.4 Practices of dispossession in tourism - Erasure

Case study


Thailand (Southeast Asia)

Chapter 5

Post-tsunami tourism development in coastal areas and consolidation of settlements of indigenous, formerly sea-faring people in marine protected areas in the Andaman region of southern Thailand have erased Indigenous practices, such as traditional boat construction, commodified culturally important artefacts, and prevented local communities from accessing their ceremonial places and spirit shrines.

Honduras (Central America) Chapter 5

Post-disaster and post-conflict tourism development and protected area expansion along the North Coast threatens to erase communal land rights and socio-cultural practices of Garifuna communities whose distinct cultural traditions, including language, dance and music, were declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Myanmar (Southeast Asia)

Chapter 6

In Bagan, a world-renowned cultural landscape in Myanmar with hundreds of ancient temples and pagodas, the country’s military regime removed traditional caretakers of cultural heritage sites in the early 1990s, thereby erasing significant repositories of living historic and cultural knowledge.

Sri Lanka (South Asia) Chapter 6

Sri Lanka’s military has confiscated large tracts of land from the Tamil minority population during and after the long civil war. It has also transformed sites of victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam into monument sites and places of triumphalism that tell a one-sided story of the conflict and risk to erase Tamil cultural and collective memory in a process of‘Sinhalisation’.


(Middle East)

Chapter 6

In occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli government has not only appropriated important historical sites from the Palestinians but also attempted over the past two decades to expand archaeological-touristic parks that infringe on Palestinian residential areas. Tourism authorities tried to remove Muslim places of interest from tourist maps.

Mozambique (Southern Africa) Chapter 7

The establishment of the Limpopo National Park called for the ‘voluntary’ resettlement of thousands of people from areas with the highest tourism potential in the park’s core zone. Authorities failed to consider less tangible losses, such as leaving cemeteries behind or losing access to traditional plants and animals, thus erasing cultural memory and Indigenous knowledge.

A final type of erasure that is worth mentioning in this context is the dea-grarianisation and depeasantisation of communities through tourism-related land and resource grabs. Agroecological practices and knowledges in Indigenous and non-indigenous communities in the Global South are often deeply embedded in local culture and religious beliefs. Tourism-induced dispossession and the physical or economic displacement of farmers, fisherfolk, huntergatherer communities and pastoralists risk erasing invaluable Indigenous and traditional knowledge in the domains of agriculture, fisheries and forestry and ultimately disconnect rural and coastal communities from land and natural resources. In the long-term, this can have major implications on food security and social stability not only at the local but also at the national level.

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