Cultural sustainability, tourism, and development: articulating connections
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 provided a stark moment of renewed reflection and contemplation on the realities of our interconnected world. It highlighted the necessity of working together on both a local community and global scale to improve our quality of social solidarity and support for one another, and to advance ideas and practices that can renew and provide mutual benefit, contribute to local vitality and a diversity of life practices, foster the sharing of ideas and cultural expressions, and redirect travel and tourism to meaningful and responsible ends. In our individual pods of isolation, the level of virtual reaching out and sharing was heightened, and the importance of cultural practices in crafting these bridges and inter-locale connections was underscored. At the same time, it was a stark reminder that what was experienced online reflected a privileged segment of humanity, and it further emphasized that we live in a very unequal world.
Moving forward, there is a sense that this pandemic may change the way we act in future — individually, collectively in our geographic communities, and more widely in our national and international networks. As this book is being finalized, cultural researchers are examining the effects of this period on artists and cultural organizations, while tourism researchers are monitoring the impacts on the tourism sector. Suggestions for post-pandemic recovery strategies and actions are being floated, while a general sense of uncertainty prevails. There are also growing calls for enhanced joint efforts to confront the continuing challenge of tackling climate change, and to seriously consider the major behavioural and systemic changes that will be required to address this too.
It is clear that countless families and communities internationally will be profoundly affected by illness, deaths, and changed realities. As we move through this experience and forward, attention to individual and collective health and well-being (both physical and mental), the revitalization of traditions that connect and provide continuity, and the use of artistic processes in therapeutic care to assist with processing, meaning-making, and self-expression can make valuable contributions to our re-grounding and re-connecting efforts.
In this context, travel and tourism will resume but are likely to be profoundly changed. Travellers may increasingly seek out places of beauty, of respite, of renewal. Domestic tourism will be re-emphasized. Connections with others may be re-conceived and fostered on a more humane basis as co-travellers on a closely interconnected planet. A sense of rebuilding and renewal may prevail. How can we use this dreadful situation to put ourselves on more humane and sustainable pathways forward, in which holistic visions of well-being, vitality, and sustainability explicitly include cultural diversity, meaning-making through art, and social connecting through cultural exchange, rituals of remembrance and resilience, and moments of celebration?
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Tourism represents a multifaceted system that can provide not only economic benefits for local communities but also opportunities for lifelong learning, intercultural exchange and dialogue, revitalization of cultural traditions and stories, sources of inspiration, and the expansion of mindsets to embrace new possibilities and perspectives. As a few visitors multiply into tourism flows, tourism dynamics and development processes play a growing role in influencing or even propelling changes in local living situations, in both positive and negative ways. Even if relationships are amicable, “the constant passing of strangers takes a toll on local communities” (Ta§cu-Stavre, 2018, p. 171).
The excesses and damages that have been caused by mass tourism serve as stark warnings to places in which tourism has been emerging and expanding.1 Growing attention to responsible tourism and related modes of tourism aim to counteract ‘traditional’ damaging approaches through developing alternate tourism pathways that emphasize community benefits, mitigate damages, and inspire new types of relationships and approaches. The emergence of the notion of‘regenerative tourism’ (Cave and Dredge, 2020) further deepens this resolve to change the traditional path of tourism to re-emphasize and centralize travel-related actions and dynamics for local benefit.
We can observe the emergence of city-based initiatives that re-conceive the idea of tourists or visitors and re-position them as short-term residents and temporary citizens, with responsibilities, simultaneously working out what this means in practice (see, e.g., Aaro-Hansen, 2017; Richards and Marques, 2018). Tourism trends to seek out connections with ‘authenticity’ and ‘the local’ are aligning with a growing interest in tourism in smaller places, which are building on their “endogenous resources, both tangible and intangible,” and leveraging their unique cultural characteristics to offer “place-based experiences” to tourists (Scherf, 2021, pp. 12, 2). In many rural situations, the attraction of visitors and the conversion of them into more permanent residents is a core objective to obtain a sustainable community (see Campbell and Maclaren in this volume). As is evident in many of the chapters in this book, as culture—tourism linkages are explicitly taken up to strategically guide and propel local development, political and economic aspects also come into play (see Tomaz in this volume).
Within the sustainable tourism context, attention to culture has been largely directed to the sustainability of cultural tourism (e.g., EENCA, 2019; EU, 2019), with related research focusing on alleviating tourism pressures on heritage sites and cultural assets (e.g., Pedersen, 2002; Garcia-Hernandez, De la
Calle-Vaquero, and Yubero, 2017; Imon, 2017) or on the local cultural impacts of tourism activity (e.g., external cultural influences and clashes with local cultures; Glasson, Godfrey, and Goodey, 1995; Cooper et al., 2013; Zhuang, Yao, and Li, 2019). Other research has emphasized issues of commodification and the risk of ‘cultural appropriation’ of intangible cultural heritage for tourism development (e.g., George, 2010); promotional representations of culture, often reproducing stereotypes (e.g., Daye, 2008; Salazar, 2009); and the sanitization of history and ‘museification’ of heritage and cultures for the consumption of tourists (e.g., Loulanski and Loulanski, 2011; Stylianou-Lambert, Boukas, and Bounia, 2015).
While all these issues continue to be salient, they are increasingly intertwined with additional dynamics arising from situations of‘new tourism’ in which in situ ‘unique’ and ‘alternative’ experiences and relationships are highlighted, where travellers aim to experience the local ways of life by ‘living as a local’, seeking ‘back door’ moments, and interacting with residents. This situation brings a more detailed focus on the local residents and the ways in which they act in tourism-influenced contexts that affect community dynamics — bringing both opportunities and concerns (see Richards in this volume). This trend dovetails with expanding understandings of culture as ‘a way of life’ (Baycan and Girard, 2013; Duxbury, 2020), cultural planning and culturally informed planning approaches based on broad notions of‘cultural resources’ (Mercer, 1991; Bianchini and Ghilardi, 2007; Young and Stevenson, 2013), and related efforts to identify, understand, and strategically mobilize the ‘cultural DNA’ of a place (Ghilardi, 2017).
A cultural sustainability perspective focuses on considerations of cultural vitality, adaptation and change, and continuance over time. This approach explicitly recognizes the plurality and diversity of cultures, perspectives, experiences, and memories that inform and shape collective ways of life, forms of expression, and ever-evolving imaginarles of place, community identities, and proposed future trajectories. While highlighting cultural considerations, this approach is intimately linked to broader social conditions and interactions, from local and regional connectivity to more global flows of persons, information, and ideas.
In the research and policy-related literature, cultural sustainability tends to be defined in two ways:
On one hand, it refers to the sustainability of cultural and artistic practices and patterns, including, for example, identity formation and expression, cultural heritage conservation, and a sense of cultural continuity. On the other hand, cultural sustainability also refers to the role of cultural traits and actions to inform and compose part of the pathways towards more sustainable societies. Culture lies at the core of practices and beliefs that can support or inspire the necessary societal transition to more sustainable living. These narratives, values, and actions contribute to the emergence of a more culturally sensitive understanding of sustainable development and to clarifying the roles of art, culture, and cultural policy in this endeavour.
(Kangas, Duxbury, and De Beukelaer, 2017, p. 130)
This collection aims to link these perspectives, while attending closely to the processes of change, resilience, and continuity that are entangled within various tourism contexts. While primarily focusing on the first of these definitional approaches, the chapters within this book also aim to highlight approaches and ‘seeds of change’ that enable alterations in mainstream tourism practices in order to engender more place-specific and culturally sensitive patterns to form and sustain.
The book’s chapters consider cultural sustainability as embedded in the active processes through which cultures are sustained. As Aleida Assmann (2019) explains,
Cultures depend on forms of transmission through recovering, reworking, revaluing, reanimating and restructuring the collected and collective heritage of the group. But this also means that the future of cultural memory and heritage is always precarious. It relies on renewed acts of attention, interest, remembering, preservation, transmission and discussion.
This approach aligns with Sacha Kagan’s (2019) argument that:
Any culturally meaningful approach to sustainability should work with a “procedural” definition of sustainability (Miller, 2011) where “sustainability is the emergent property of a discussion about desired futures” (Robinson  in Miller, 2011, p. 31). ... A procedural definition recognizes and works with the unavoidable and necessary conditions of emergence, unpredictability, uncertainty and “situated knowledges” (Haraway, 1988). . . . |It| engages in a process of articulation, (re) interpretation and negotiation of cultural difference . . .
The contributors to this volume provide in situ insights emanating from diverse contexts but similarly adhering to the contention that it is necessary to foster “an integrative understanding of sustainable development which regards culture as a fundamental structure of societal action and thus as a dimension of sustainable development itself” (Holz and Stoltenberg, 2011, pp. 15—16, cited in Meireis and Rippl, 2019, p. 254).
The origins of this book are found in the international, interdisciplinary conference “Culture, Sustainability and Place: Innovative Approaches for Tourism Development,” which was held from October 11 to 13, 2017, in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.2 The event was organized within the context of the UN designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The conference explored the place and roles of culture within
Cultural sustainability and tourism 5 sustainable tourism for local development, bringing together both critical examinations of this issue as well as innovative approaches and practices. Beyond these beginnings, additional authors were invited to submit contributions to this volume, and the collection has evolved since that time.
This book is an effort to examine the dynamic connections between cultural sustainability, tourism, and development through investigating how changing situations bring re-articulations and local change in specific locales. More specifically, its aims are threefold:
- • To examine the cultural dimensions of tourism-invoked dynamics of change and cultural impacts of tourism-related activities;
- • To draw attention to the roles and place of cultural expressions, artistic activities, and cultural heritage resources in local and regional sustainable development contexts linked to tourism; and
- • To propose and highlight culture-informed generative approaches that encourage a better balance between visitors and residents’ quality of life; attend to local cultural stewardship, vitality, and sustainability; and consider the broader holistic development of the place being visited.
The chapters are interdisciplinary in scope, bringing together authors from an array of fields and experiences. They are informed by both academic and pragmatic work advancing perspectives on the roles of culture in local sustainable development and taking action to this end. The chapters are rooted in a deep appreciation for learning from practice through careful observation, analysis, and reflection on the contexts in which practices (and issues) arise. The varied perspectives and contexts provide a rich milieu from which to consider the complexities of culture-tourism relationships and broader dynamics.
The contributions to this book examine and reflect on situations in primarily smaller communities and rural areas located in Brazil, Canada, Croatia, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United States. The situations presented in the chapters contribute to understanding how tourism and development dynamics are playing out outside of more prominent urban centres of‘global culture’, shining a light on less-examined situations within global and regional tourism flows. The chapters explore and illuminate the complexities of circumstances and place-specific dynamics of various configurations of transition. The connection among these diverse contexts is the relationship between local cultures, tourism, and local sustainable development, from efforts to strengthen connections to concern about discord between them.
The authors provide insights derived from examining and working in very different situations in which culture-based and culture-implicated tourism has introduced opportunities, challenges, and a lens to examine and build community futures that include culture and tourism-related components. Collectively, they indicate some of these possible pathways forward while also warning of some risks and concerns in this process. While some chapters are positioned as counteractions to prevailing patterns (see, e.g., Chaturvedi, and Zu vela and
Portolan in this volume), they do not represent locales undergoing wide-scale place reinvention, but rather initiatives that aim to influence and provide additional options for development trajectories. In some cases, these initiatives can inspire and help propel associated developments in the locale, if nurturing conditions are present (see, e.g., Qu and Funck, Beaudette, Almeida, and Musaro and Moralli in this volume).
The book is divided into four sections: Relational modes of tourism and culture-informed placemaking dynamics, Artistic interventions for regional revitalization, Leveraging culture-based tourism for local development, and Generative approaches to cultural stewardship and tourism. However, the themes and issues elaborated in the chapters demonstrate various linkages among and across them, and there are multiple ways they could have been organized. Some of these connections are noted here, others are discussed in the closing chapter.
Relational modes of tourism and culture-informed placemaking dynamics
The perspectives and issues brought forward in the two chapters following this introduction serve as insightful foundations for the other chapters in this volume. They point to changing modes of tourism, and tourism’s interconnection with the socially embedded evolution and development of meaningful places. The examples they profile point to the possibilities inherent in learning from innovative practices, the importance of imagination and human agency in local development, and the need to understand the enabling contexts in which they arise.
Pierluigi Musaro and Melissa Moralli’s chapter, “What is the role of responsible tourism in building stronger and intercultural communities? Two case studies from Italy,” is contextualized, on one hand, by the relation between tourism and migration as two interrelated phenomena of human mobility and, on the other hand, by the concept of responsible tourism, “an approach where the principle of responsibility towards the environment and the host community remains central” (p. 21). Two case studies from Bologna, Italy, are presented: ITA.CA Emigrants and travellers, the festival of responsible tourism, and Migrantour Bologna, a project promoting intercultural urban itineraries in European cities. The authors adopt a cultural perspective on responsible tourism to illuminate how tourism plays an essential role in local development processes, as well as in the social and spatial dialectic that gives meaning to places. As the authors explain, “more than being a tool to promote incoming, tourism can be a means to facilitate the becoming of a territory and its local communities” (p. 28).
The authors argue that responsible tourism can be a lever of inclusive territorial development when it operates within a space of cultural negotiation and promotes social and economic inclusion. In these two case studies, the organizations and, by extension, tourism are sites that encourage and support networking and promote interculturality through ‘bottom-up’ processes.
These symbolic spaces of collaboration relate to and generate “a shared cultural identity linked to the local territory” (p. 29), building stronger, intercultural communities while reshaping host—guest relations and fostering social inclusion. As Musard and Moralli point out, “these processes of symbolic construction and re-appropriation of a shared identity are not fostered through the transformation of the ethnic neighbourhood into a tourist space, but through the creation of new perspectives related to the narration and representation of the place complexity” (p. 30).
Greg Richards’ chapter, “Making places through creative tourism?,” considers how cultural sustainability can be supported through the development of creative tourism and creative placemaking. The core aspect of this question is how to sustain the practices and other aspects that help “keep places distinctive in a globalizing world” (p. 41). Creating distinctive places goes beyond physical spaces to also consider how and why people feel connected to places, and how they have meaning for them. As Richards points out, local cultural resources and meanings have become the focal point of offers to travellers, including the everyday creativity that lies in the daily rhythms of work and play, embedded in local lifestyles and expressed in various cultural forms and formats. He contends that “making places better these days needs a total re-think of the relationship between people and space and place” (p. 37). In this context, placemaking processes must encompass “a complete social practice that involves physical change as well as changes in thinking and doing” (p. 36).
Creative tourism can contribute to this placemaking process through conserving resources that might otherwise be in danger of disappearing and showing young generations new ways of interacting with the creative legacy of their community; generating new ways of looking at and understanding the relationship between communities and their territory; and fostering practices that use tourism “to identify, concentrate, and harness creativity” (p. 43) to potentially make places better. Furthermore, as a form of ‘relational travel’ (Richards, 2014) in which experiences and skills are shared, creative tourism tends to foster meaningful relationships between travellers and local residents, working particularly well “in the ‘lived space’ of the everyday” (p. 41). However, as the focus of tourism moves into the sphere of daily life, the vulnerability of local culture increases. A key challenge is to ensure that the focus of attention and the interests of permanent residents and travellers (or temporary citizens as they are being considered in some cities) coincides. In this context, cultural sustainability depends on ensuring that there is a shared interest in the local culture, broadly conceived and including both tangible and intangible aspects. Culture-informed placemaking can employ relational tourism as a tool to both sustain and promote a destination’s heritage.
Artistic interventions for regional revitalization
The next two chapters consider the phenomenon of contemporary art festivals placed in rural communities on islands in Japan and Canada. The first chapter examines an established triennale from the researchers’ external perspective, while the second chapter presents an inside account of the development of a relatively new biennale from the organizers perspective. Both accounts point to the complexities of effectively linking art-based initiatives to local and regional revitalization with meaningful attention to local cultural sustainability in contexts of transition.
In “Rural art festival revitalizing a Japanese declining tourism island,” Meng Qu and Carolin Funck present an evaluation of the Setouchi Triennale, a large-scale rural contemporary art festival that was launched in 2010, whose purpose is to reverse the decline of the island communities of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan, through site-specific art and art festival tourism. The festival organizers aim to revitalize the islands through community building and celebrating local ways of life, emphasizing community participation and aiming to promote a “culture of exchange” (Nakashima, 2012, p. 48) between local residents and tourists through “creative, relational, and interactive experiences” (p. 52). Bringing together the concepts of ‘relational aesthetics’ and ‘integrated relational tourism’, the chapter introduces the new concept of‘relational art festival’, focusing on the three-way interaction among local people, art, and tourists.
The chapter focuses on Shodoshima, the biggest Setouchi Triennale-hosting island, and evaluates how the festival influences the local communities from various perspectives. The research tackles the critical issue of how to effectively measure revitalization through cultural exchange and interaction at the local level. The chapter examines top-down interventions and bottom-up approaches in community revitalization, and both ‘soft’ (e.g., interactions with tourists) and ‘hard’ (e.g., the opening of new businesses) impacts. The research finds that “effective revitalization of local communities is best achieved when the art reflects a motivation to preserve local culture” (p. 64) and that efforts to revitalize communities need clear paths to sustainability that are tailored to the particular realities and needs of each community. To address the challenge of how to sustain tourism and service businesses between the festival periods, the authors suggest site-specific development strategies based on art, tourism, and community that encourage a bottom-up mindset focused on art and cultural creation enterprises. The foundations of these strategies include maintaining good quality artworks that are linked to the local cultural heritage, encouraging a shift from a one-time art festival tourism to art and island-centred slow tourism, and encouraging collaborative planning among public agencies, businesses, and civic associations.
Art as an expression of a distinctive place is also explored in Catherine Beau-dette’s chapter, “Bouavista Biennale — Art Encounters on the Edge: contemporary art in rural Newfoundland,” which presents the development story of a monthlong, large-scale international art exhibition located on the Bonavista Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, Canada. Launched in 2017, the event aspires, “through the power of art, to engage with social issues that affect the local and inform the global” (p. 69) - a blending of “cultural tourism with ‘art for social change’” (p. 73). The small outport communities of Newfoundland have
Cultural sustainability and tourism 9 experienced over two decades of decline due to the collapse of the cod fishery, and the biennale was initially launched as an initiative to use art as an economic stimulator to revitalize the area. As the chapter details, the biennale has built an array of social, cultural, and artistic connections with its distinct place and local communities, although both financial sustainability and deepening local connections are ongoing concerns.
The event aligns well with ‘slow travel’, with artworks dispersed across the peninsula on a 100-km coastal loop. From a tourism-development perspective, it is part of a growing movement of geotourism in the region, defined as “tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place - its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents” (p. 78)? It also aligns with conscious travel, described as “a call for responsible travel that minimizes the negative impact on the environment and maximizes positive benefits and sustainable livelihood for the local community ... a more conscientious form of travel” (p. 84).
As the idea and project developed, it accompanied broader patterns of transition and socio-cultural regeneration as a younger demographic of entrepreneurs and creatives moved to and set up micro-businesses in the region. Grounded in and fuelled by a strong identity, deep cultural history, and distinctive sense of place, the Bonavista Peninsula “is becoming a burgeoning cultural tourism destination, slowly transforming itself... to an exciting region that is gaining notoriety for its cultural offerings and innovative enterprises” (p. 78). In this context, Beaudette introduces the concept of‘off-centres’ to denote “the places less travelled, off the beaten path, and not exactly in the middle - an alternative to urban centres” - and rising as “desirable, viable places to live, thrive, and create” (p. 72). Importantly, she notes that these places “are not defined by their attractions but, rather, they develop from the ground up by residents and creatives in response to conditions and desires” (p. 72) — outcomes of local agency, drive, and imagination. These dynamics are the essence of active placemaking, “creating a place with meaning, a place for people to come, experience, and exchange” (p. 73). Their collective goal is “to preserve the uniqueness of this region, and to help convert the passive experience of change into the capacity to manage change” (p. 73).
Leveraging culture-based tourism for local development
The next three chapters examine more closely different types of culture-based strategies linked to tourism that have been encouraged and undertaken by local authorities and related agencies in the interest of local development. The chapters highlight the ways in which cultural sustainability, in practice, is a blended mix of attention to both continuity and change.
Heather Campbell and Fergus T. Maclaren’s chapter, “Small growth: cultural heritage and co-placemaking in Canada’s post-resource communities,” speaks to culture-informed approaches developed by smaller, rural communities in their transition from resource-based settlements to more diversified,
sustainable economies. Drawing on two case studies in rural Canada, the Town of Cochrane, Ontario, and the Osoyoos Indian Band, British Columbia, the chapter speaks more widely to the sustainable development of transitional rural communities, which “often means a concerted effort to attract new residents and businesses” (p. 91). The two cases illustrate very different approaches to cultural entrepreneurship as sustainable community development.
The cases serve to demonstrate a development model in which tourism strategies become avenues for co-placemaking, which the authors define as “an immersive place-based experience or identity-building process” (p. 88) that combines cultural heritage and placemaking strategies to achieve sustainable economic diversification goals and resiliency in post-resource communities. As they elaborate,
By combining a focus on tourism and population development, we see the emergence of co-placemaking: the process of communities offering experiences that cater to visitors, which those visitors are then encouraged to engage with or immerse themselves to such an extent that they co-create the experience, and are drawn to the potential of becoming permanent residents.
In this context, new businesses can represent “platforms to celebrate and communicate local values, history, and traditions that retain a venues unique sense of place and attraction” (p. 106).
Building on cultural heritage tourism and rural lifestyle attributes to attract visitors, the possible conversion of visitors to residents relies on two factors: immersion, “the ability to interact on some level with the experience” (p. 93), and integrity, a wholeness or intactness of the natural or cultural heritage attributes of a locale, “an evolved yet maintained reality” (p. 93). These efforts necessitate a careful balancing between the existing natural and cultural resources of a place and the attraction and retention of these new residents and business — both investing in and influencing the future of these small towns. Care must be taken not to alienate (and possibly lose) existing residents and, as the authors explain, this is where “specific culturally led protocols can be beneficial” (p. 92). These situations provide insightful positions for stimulating culturally sensitive local sustainable development in situations of manageable tourism. The next chapter provides a glimpse of a rural region that has undergone rapid tourism development in a less-controlled context.
In “Positive and negative effects of cultural tourism development: changes and dynamics in the Polish region of Podlasie,” Katarzyna Plebaticzyk investigates and reflects on the rapid development of cultural heritage-based tourism in a rural borderland region with a diverse cultural blend nurtured over centuries. The chapter focuses on the tension between tourism development based on the commercialization of cultural heritage and that which is based on community well-being, cohesion, and cultural identity. While economically
Cultural sustainability and tourism 11 valuable, the tourism growth in this rural region has produced “a series of sociocultural consequences, including the spread of tourists into former residential districts and the marginalization of local inhabitants, modification of all kinds of traditions, and reduced authenticity and loss of cultural identity, which is quite clearly observable” (p. 122). The impacts of overtourism are core to the main challenges the rural region now faces.
At the same time, tourism has contributed to cultural preservation and reconstruction, and widespread recognition of the cultural diversity of this region. The rise of tourism has “inspired new nature- and culture-based businesses and initiatives that have injected a new vibrancy into local cultural traditions and gastronomy and raised awareness of the importance of safeguarding and providing training about the region s tangible and intangible cultural heritage” (p. 124). As well, the rapid development of tourism in the region “seems to have inspired and propelled a community-driven counter-force to protect community interests, foster local social connectedness, and preserve cultural traditions” (p. 123), for example, through the development of a ‘slow’ festival, primarily addressed to the local community.
As Plebanczyk assesses the situation, the main problem associated with tourism in this region “seems to be the difficulty in reconciling the needs of all the stakeholders” (p. 124), including tourists, residents, entrepreneurs, and regional authorities - all of whom have differing perspectives and objectives. She also, insightfully, draws attention to the diversity of perspectives, values, and traditions found within the local communities, which can make it difficult or impossible to take collective action. In this situation, public authorities were promoting rapid tourism development and giving local commercial operators the lead in this development with (it seems) limited attention to cultural implications or coordinating overall efforts. In contrast, the following chapter examines municipal-led initiatives that aim to attain visibility and development momentum through reaching out to international cultural hallmark programmes for designations.
Elisabete Caldeira Neto Tomaz’s chapter, “Engaging culture and tourism under international hallmark programmes: local perspectives and trajectories,” looks at the appeal of culture-based revitalization strategies for small cities, especially those challenged with “declining industrial capacity in labour-intensive industries” (p. 128). Tomaz outlines the interconnectedness of culture and tourism in city development and highlights the growing role of local governments in this scenario, noting that as local authorities have included cultural strategies in their development agendas, this has been accompanied by “competing for the organization of major cultural events or admission to programmes of international organizations” (p. 129). The allure of international programmes that brand a city or locale continues to be strongly observable internationally, anointing a city with visibility, recognition, and validation while providing a symbolic platform for culture- and heritage-based development strategies. While these mechanisms are intimately linked with expanding tourism, they are also intertwined with local efforts seeking “to find new forms of governance,
preserve their heritage, strengthen the sense of belonging, and affirm the identity of their communities” (p. 129).
Profiling the trajectories of three small Portuguese cities, Guimaraes, Obidos, and Serpa, in their relations with these international programmes, the chapter explains the strategic decisions and different development patterns that accompany the seeking of such branding, revealing how the titles propel local actions and become active agents in the transformation of small cities and communities (see also Zuvela and Portolan in this volume). The major culture- and heritage-led efforts tied to these titles tend to inspire further efforts to recognize, support, and revitalize the local socio-cultural ‘lifeblood’. They provide momentum and resources to sustain and extend local cultural vitality and sustainability in transitional times, in some cases creating a new imaginary to propel further development efforts.
In these cases, culture is seen as an irreplaceable resource that offers inputs and opportunities to develop new and old businesses, partnerships, and tourism models. At the same time, cultural strategies are used to address social issues in the community and to foster structured debates on sustainable development. However, critical challenges, especially pertaining to sustainability, accompany these journeys. Reinforcing the insights from cases presented in earlier chapters, the centrality of ongoing communication, negotiations, and collaboration among different actors and interests in the local community is emphasized.
Generative approaches to cultural stewardship and tourism
The three chapters in this section explore the possibilities for positive local development when tourism is intimately connected to local cultural stewardship and care for cultural continuity and sustainability. They point to issues and challenges in keeping community-led initiatives and culture-based tourism development responsive and beneficial to the host community, its values, and its future sustainability. In doing so, they also point to the importance of recognizing and reinforcing community values, cross-sectoral dialogue and negotiation, and the challenges of reconciling cultural and tourism perspectives, dynamics, and priorities.
In “Casa Grande Foundation: local tourism and social value - the impact beyond counting,” Inès Almeida presents a social business model and community-led tourism planning initiative in Nova Olinda, Brazil. Operating for over 20 years, the Casa Grande Foundation is an award-winning initiative rooted in the agency of children and youth to lead efforts for cultural preservation, presentation, and enhancement of cultural vibrancy into the future. The Foundations original objective was to reanimate its community’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage through promoting activities and projects for community engagement. Over time, it has created “authentic, endogenous experiences for tourists” (p. 154) through its cultural and pedagogical activities, as well as through its stimulation of a network of 16 ‘organic museums’ in the Cariri region. Its work has also nurtured a range of small enterprises managed
Cultural sustainability and tourism 13 by former Casa Grande children, who are thus able to work in their hometown rather than leaving to seek employment. As a hub of local tourism, it has also nurtured the development of ten family-owned inns, mostly managed by the childrens mothers. These inns host a large proportion of the visitors who stay in the city.
Almeida presents this social entrepreneurial trajectory in a broader context of community (or community-based) tourism. Beyond modes of socio-economic arrangements that can innovate tourism offers, Almedia contends that local actors must be “aware of their decision-making power and their choice of development of what they consider relevant to themselves and their community” (p. 150) in order for there to be community tourism, echoing the insights from Musaro and Moralli’s chapter. The locale and its community thus become “protagonist actors in the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of tourism ... as well as agents managing the tourist site” (p. 151). Relational patterns among the tourism services developed are based on a ‘situated dialogue’, which requires attention to the local value ecosystem as well as a negotiated agreement of commitments.
Almeida notes that this approach aligns with a “situated tourism” strategy (Zaoual, 2009, p. 69) in which the objective is “to value the existing diversity and protect the unique characteristics encountered in the most varied territories” (Fortunato and Silva, 2013, p. 129). This echoes Beaudette’s remarks about geotourism and conscious tourism, as well as Musaro and Moralli’s presentation of responsible tourism - pointing to the emergence of an international desire for travel that treasures cultural diversity and the specificities of individual places and aims to develop modes of tourism that serve to enhance these ends rather than contribute to homogenization effects. At the same time, and as Almeida points out, the local value ecosystem and system of arrangements that enable community-led tourism development of this type are varied and specific to each place in which it is realized.
Neekee Chaturvedi’s chapter, “Eco-warriors Bishnois for cultural tourism in Rajasthan,” focuses on the Bishnoi desert community in the region of western Rajasthan, India, a community completely committed to ecological ethics, sustained by their faith. The chapter explores whether the Bishnois can be meaningfully engaged with sustainable cultural tourism in the context of and as a response to the world’s environmental crises. Based on an anthropological action-research study, the chapter goes beyond an examination of the principles that form a meaningful cultural, spiritual, and ecological framework for the Bishnois to propose a few sensitively developed tourism models that indicate possible trajectories to showcase the cultural heritage of this eco-conscious community. In this exercise, Chaturvedi proposes suggestions to maintain the community’s indigeneity without compromising an authentic tourism experience, and to attend to possible pitfalls, challenges, and limitations.
As Chaturvedi points out, on one hand, the tourism potential is dependent on market viability and, on the other hand (and most importantly), it must benefit the community. In this case, the two key issues facing the communityare the effects of “rapid inroads of modernity” (p. 172) on traditional ecological practices and youth migration to urban areas searching for economic opportunities. Both threaten the sustainability of Bishnoi values, which are “based on regional parameters and have relied heavily on community participation” (p. 173). Chaturvedi argues that sensitively developed tourism can help address these issues by generating business opportunities and fostering a feeling of pride in the Bishnois’ distinct identity, “a reassurance that the community’s values are worth attentively maintaining in contemporary times” (p. 173). Like the Casa Grande Foundation, attentive care must be taken to ensure tourism development benefits the community and gains are fairly distributed, to guard against negative effects of commodification and processes of objectification of some of the community’s cultural practices, and to be wary of other influences as a result of encounters with tourists. Cautious and inclusive involvement of all key actors is required to move forward, with community input and feedback vital to shaping and managing any community-based tourism offers.
Moving to a locale that has been beset by issues of mass tourism, Ana Zuvela and Ana Portolan’s chapter, “The dichotomies of local tourism and cultural development in the city of Dubrovnik: issues of (un)sustainability,” examines issues of cultural and community well-being in a small-city overtourism context. Fuelled by the city’s renowned cultural heritage assets (as well as the television show “Game of Thrones”), tourism industry pressures are provoking ongoing transformations that are rapidly redefining the city. The authors take notice of a traditional separation between analysis of culture and tourism in the city, and argue that this separation has contributed to “inconsistencies and imprudence” (p. 179) in addressing these ongoing transformations. Aiming to address this situation, the chapter provides a critical analysis of both cultural and tourism development provisions in Dubrovnik, their interrelations to local sustainability, and the extent to which there is a chasm in understanding and addressing issues involving the two interlinked domains. Contextualizing this analysis are considerations of participatory governance models for governing and managing cultural resources, joined-up’ policymaking, and the development of a “structural mesh for local sustainability” (p. 181) that would create “synergies and symbioses between different actors and sectors” and distribute both responsibilities and “benefits reaped from the commercial, culture-based tourism activity” (p. 181).
The chapter discusses an imaginative local response to “an inability to provide systematic solutions for a decline in the quality of a local cultural substance that is giving way to tourism and the commercially driven use of cultural resources” (p. 185) - to embark on a bid for the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) designation. The necessity of the bid to include a local strategic plan for culture and the activation of local cultural resources for European cultural cooperation led the bid organizers to the position that it “could provide an alternative approach, aiming to create a balance between uncontrolled tourism development and sustainable modes of culture-driven development” (p. 186). Although in the end
Cultural sustainability and tourism 15 the bid was not successful, the candidacy process enabled the development of a lengthy analysis of the state of affairs of culture in the city and a strategic plan to steer cultural planning “towards more holistic and sustainable approaches that seek to balance economic with social and cultural priorities” (p. 187). The candidacy and its supporting plans aimed to draw attention to the necessity to (re)consider how local cultural resources contribute to community well-being and local development and to create a path towards new cultural planning and governance approaches based on the principles of sustainability, participation, inclusion, and community engagement. While these efforts have aimed to “provide new approaches and perspectives for reinforcing sustainability in local tourism and culture development” (p. 190), the struggle to embed them in public policy continues.
The book closes with a chapter by Nancy Duxbury that examines the thematic threads that link these chapters and which inform a framework for considering and reflecting on the interrelationships among cultural sustainability, tourism, and local development. While highly interconnected, at an overarching level, four key themes emerge: caring for culture (fostering cultural stewardship and cultural sustainability), enabling culturally sensitive inodes of tourism (encouraging locally beneficial modes of tourism), empowering community (strengthening local community agency), and improving place (leveraging interactions between tourism and culture to engender positive placemaking dynamics). These four dimensions collectively contribute to designing and implementing local development processes that are culturally sensitive, meaningfully rooted in the place they are conceived and operationalized, and community engaged - and thus contributing to localized sustainable development trajectories.
In reflecting on this, it is important to keep in mind the diverse in situ practices that give them life, vitality, and agency in different contexts and the centrality of empowering inclusive and participatory local action and governance to bolster local agency in various tourism contexts. The real-life, in-motion cases presented in the chapters show both strengths and weaknesses in these four areas, providing points for both inspiration and critique, suggestions and warnings. As the worlds tourism re-emerges out of the COVID-19 pandemic, rethinking how it might go forward is an urgently important task. Connecting these considerations with critical recognition and improved understanding of tourism’s intimate interconnections with the vitality and sustainability of diverse local cultures and the local development trajectories of individual communities is essential.
1 For example, we have observed crushing ‘overtourism’ situations that cripple local community vitality and quality' of life; physical damage to natural and historic sites due to tourism traffic; property redevelopment that evicts long-time residents in favour of shortterm rentals; travellers who transgress local cultural morals and norms; and difficulties in maintaining cultural traditions in meaningful ways that are more than visitor spectacles (see also Plebanczyk, and Zu vela and Portolan in this volume).
- 2 The “Culture, Sustainability and Place: Innovative Approaches for Tourism Development” conference was co-organized by the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra; the Azores Tourism Observatory; and the University of the Azores (all in Portugal); and Thompson Rivers University (Canada).
- 3 The design and operation of Fogo Island Inn, located in another part of the province, have helped fuel this geotourism movement in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Internationally, the notion is highly promoted by the National Geographic organization.
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