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Tourism and Development in Tropical Islands

Political Ecology Perspectives Edited by Stefan Gössling, Lecturer, Department of Service Management, Helsingborg Campus, Lund University, Sweden
Tropical islands are fragile, vulnerable environments and yet they are coming under increasing strain due to coastal developments and global environmental change. As a result of their remote location, small size and limited natural resource endowments, tourism has become an important economic activity, leading to emerging conflicts between the interests of developers, tourists and residents.
Extent: 304 pp
Hardback Price: $146.00 Web: $131.40
Publication Date: 2003
ISBN: 978 1 84376 257 7
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  • Development Studies
  • Development Studies
  • Tourism
  • Environment
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
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Tropical islands are fragile, vulnerable environments and yet they are coming under increasing strain due to coastal developments and global environmental change. As a result of their remote location, small size and limited natural resource endowments, tourism has become an important economic activity, leading to emerging conflicts between the interests of developers, tourists and residents.

Whilst much has been written about tourism-related development in tropical islands from a socio-cultural and economic point of view, the political ecology of environmental change has received surprisingly little attention. Political ecology is a powerful tool with which to investigate the role and interests of different actors in the process of environmental change, and this highly original volume represents a first ever study of tourism and tropical island development employing this novel but effective approach. Central to the argument is the belief that environmental problems cannot properly be understood without considering their economic and political context. The political ecology focus allows the authors to compare a wide range of tropical islands and to identify more sustainable development paths. They are also able to analyse the role of the various actors involved in the tourism development versus environmental change debate such as the state, international organizations, the tourism industry, local communities and non-governmental organizations.

The continued growth of tourism will undoubtedly cause greater environmental problems. This book makes a major contribution toward understanding and solving these conflicts, particularly in those islands where the problems are most pressing. It will be required reading for students, researchers and academics of tourism, service management, geography, environmental studies, human ecology and economic development.
‘. . . the book deserves to be widely read. The book offers something for everybody from practitioner to undergraduate student to “serious” academic. I aim to encourage particularly the latter to read the book, if only for the truly exceptional contributions by Gössling and Patterson and Rodriguez.’
– Daniela Schilcher, Journal of Sustainable Tourism

‘Gössling’s volume is a welcome contribution to island literature and the broader body of work on tourism. This book is recommended for both personal and institutional libraries of governments, academics, and practitioners concerned with tourism development in island environments.’
– Lee Jolliffe, Annals of Tourism Research

‘The Tropics. Islands. Tourism. These are the troika of landscapes and processes which have perhaps been most heavily hyped and themed by contemporary discourse as segregated sites of (con)sensual pleasure. Such narratives camouflage the nature of these pseudo-ideal sites as contested spaces; and alienate publics from a critical discussion of the ever-central relationship between land, profit and power. Tourism and Development in Tropical Islands adopts a challenging ‘political ecology’ approach to expose and trace the history of these ‘warm water’ island narratives and how they manufacture very particular and partial images of nature, society and development. It unabashedly asks Who Gains? Who Loses? from a particular tourism policy, plan, project and/or ‘product’. The book proposes to replace unidirectional discourse with bidirectional dialogue as the vehicle for sustainable development. It is a useful and timely addition to the burgeoning literature on ‘island studies’, inviting readers to consider a clutch of insightful case studies – or ‘Tales of Conflict’ – along with a penetrating analytical synthesis.’
– Godfrey Baldacchino, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

‘This is a welcome addition to the literature on island tourism. It is the first sustained cross-national attempt to apply the political ecology perspective across a global sample of inter-tropical coastal settings. This conceptual framework focuses on the interaction between various tourism stakeholders – national and international, public and private – to explain the process of environmental change in island resort areas. The volume contains an unusual diversity of case studies, rich and informative in their own right. It will provide valuable reading for both tourism academics and professionals and spawn further research along the same lines.’
– Jerome L. McElroy, Saint Mary’s College, Indiana, US

‘This book provides fascinating and readable accounts of the interplay between tourism development, politics and local environments from the new perspective of political ecology. Thus, it adds institutional depth to studies of tourism development and deserves to be read widely.’
– Clem Tisdell, The University of Queensland, Australia
Contributors: S. Gössling, O. Hörstmeier, A.Y. Liu, T. Patterson, L.C. Rodriguez, R. Rosales, S.C. Stonich, G. Wall, D.B. Weaver, A.T. White, P.F. Wilkinson, P.P. Wong, S. Wunder
Contents: Preface 1. Tourism and Development in Tropical Islands: Political Ecology Perspectives 2. The Political Ecology of Tourism in the Cayman Islands 3. The Political Ecology of Tourism in the Commonwealth of Dominica 4. Tourism Policy and Planning in St Lucia 5. The Political Ecology of Marine Protected Areas: The Case of the Bay Islands 6. Native Tourism, Natural Forests and Local Incomes on Ilha Grande, Brazil 7. The Political Ecology of Tourism in Zanzibar 8. ‘High-value Conservation Tourism’: Integrated Tourism Development in the Seychelles? 9. Human Resources Development for Tourism in a Peripherial Island: Hainan, China 10. Community-oriented Marine Tourism in the Philippines: Role in Economic Development and Conservation 11. Tourism Development and the Coastal Environment on Bintan Island Index