Futures Perspectives on Tourism Inclusion

This month we published Inclusive Tourism Futures edited by Anu Harju-Myllyaho and Salla Jutila. In this post the authors explain the concept of inclusive tourism and provide examples of how we can influence inclusive tourism futures.

There are numerous academic and practical discussions concerning inclusive tourism, especially in terms of different stakeholders and actors. Yet, there is still room for futures perspectives on tourism inclusion. The aim of this book is to pay attention to inclusive tourism futures. We ask how to understand and enhance inclusive tourism development in academia and in the field of tourism. In other words, the purpose of this book is to set a basis for further discussion as well as to understand the various tourism stakeholder groups, viewpoints, methods and practices that are important for supporting inclusive tourism.

Inclusive tourism, as a dimension of sustainable tourism, is part of a wider societal discussion. Sustainable tourism is a multidimensional issue and neither of the different dimensions exist in a vacuum. This means that, for instance, ecologically sustainable tourism demands a recognition of its social dimension. It is very important to continue discussions and to commit to action regarding socially responsible tourism and environmental sustainability. However, such engagement also causes conflicts. If we must restrict tourism or compensate for the emissions it causes through taxation, who then has the right to travel? Does anyone? At the same time, we ask: who is permitted to take part in planning tourism and consuming it? Who benefits?

Along with the diversity of tourists, inclusive tourism emphasises the participation of local people (e.g. Höckert, 2015; Simmons, 1994). Inclusion also always requires acknowledgement of exclusion, both compulsory and voluntary. Chapters of the book highlight both guest and host points of view in versatile contexts. For example, in chapter one Höckert, Kugapi and Lüthje point out the role of development projects in inclusive tourism. Authors discuss their own project, Culturally Sensitive Tourism in the Arctic (ARCTISEN), in the context of the thoughts of hosts and guests. They note that inclusion also incorporates freedom of choice: that choice can be not to participate but to stay excluded. According to Höckert et al, inclusive development cannot be pre-organised. A certain openness to different ways of being, knowing and doing must remain part of the process. They suggest that development projects should nurture the idea that hosts’ and guests’ roles are reciprocal and that they change depending on the situation.

It is important to give a voice to future generations and to consider different possibilities and paths that might be pursued to achieve mutually desired goals. By anticipating alternative futures, while recognising different perspectives on inclusive tourism, it is possible to consider future actors and what might be best for them. The future has one positive aspect: we can have an impact on it. As futures researchers often say, we cannot predict the future, but we can make it ourselves. Thus, as a chronological dimension, the future is full of possibilities.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like The Impact of Tourism in East Africa by Anne Storch and Angelika Mietzner.