Tourism and Degrowth: Impossibility Theorem or Post-Capitalist Alternative?

Authors: Robert Fletcher*, Wageningen University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Tourism Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: tourism, degrowth, capitalism, neoliberalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


John Bellamy Foster has asserted that pursuing degrowth within a capitalist economy is an ‘impossibility theorem’, and these dynamics suggest that the same critique might apply in the case of tourism. As one of the main forms of ‘fix’ for contradictions of capitalist development, reorienting tourism towards degrowth may therefore require radical alteration to the global capitalist economy as a whole. This is a major challenge for tourism, as not only one of the world’s largest capitalist industries but also one of the main means by which the capitalist system as a whole seeks to overcome inherent contradictions via continual expansion. This paper lays out the terrain of this debate, exploring how degrowth discourse has addressed the question of capitalism’s inherent unsustainability to date and what the implications of this discussion are for conceptualizing the possibility of a degrowth-oriented tourism. It outlines the principles of a ‘post-capitalist’ tourism that might be seen to resolve Foster’s impossibility theorem and hence provide a possible conceptual foundation for such a tourism.

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