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Tourism is more sinned against than sinning

Sharpley, R., Scott, N., Macbeth, J. and Smith, P. (2013) Tourism is more sinned against than sinning. Tourism Recreation Research, 38 (3). pp. 349-369.

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The purpose of this Research Probe is to address a simple or, on reflection, perhaps simplistic question. As the editor of this journal originally asked when inviting contributions and rejoinders, is tourism a ‘sinner’ or is it unjustly ‘sinned against’? In other words, since the late nineteenth century, modem tourism has attracted criticism in one form or another, initially in the form of social comment, subsequently in both academic and journalistic circles. Indeed, significant attention has been paid by tourism scholars and others to the negative consequences of tourism (and, of course, means of mitigating such consequences), to the extent that it might be assumed that tourism inevitably ‘sins’ against the places and peoples where it occurs. So, the question is posed—it is appropriate to view tourism as such, as the harbinger of social, cultural and environmental problems, or is this unjust criticism? That is, is tourism' sinned against' by those who focus, on occasion in apocalyptic terms, on the problems that are to a lesser or greater extent the inevitable outcome of the development of tourism, and is it timely to rebalance the debate, to consider whether an assessment of tourism deserves a more supportive or positive foundation?

Given the complexity of tourism, the enormously variable forms it takes and contexts within which it occurs and, of course, the multiplicity of perspectives from which it can be considered, there are no simple answers or ways of answering the question. Thus, the lead piece is purposefully written to stimulate debate, to be deliberately provocative. And as the three rejoinders by Noel Scott, Jim Macbeth and Peter Smith demonstrate, it is a question that is worth pursuing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Centre for Tourism Research
Copyright: © 2013 Tourism Recreation Research
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