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The Growing Space of Tourism in National Parks

Authors: Magdalena GarcĂ­a*, Universite De Montreal
Topics: Tourism Geography, Environment, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: National Parks, Canada, Neoliberal Conservation, Tourism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the contemporary era, tourism plays an increasingly important role in the management and governance of protected natural areas, including national parks. Reflecting this trend, international organizations such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Nations Development Programme encourage the promotion of tourism in protected areas as means for sustainable development. These institutions argue that ecotourism can serve as means for achieving economic growth, community prosperity and biodiversity conservation. Tourism becomes, therefore, one of the major ways in which conservation is justified and legitimated. Geographers and political ecologists who study conservation practices argue, nonetheless, that the increasing importance of tourism in conservation practices reflects the neoliberalization of protected natural areas. This presentation will expand the idea that national parks are increasingly transforming nature as subjects of conservation to objects of consumption for tourists and visitors. We will draw attention to how several products and services for tourism development are expanding the nature range and trading possibilities in national parks. Tourism thus is turning nature management under new rationales of conservation to satisfy visitor's experiences, likewise maintaining a strategy to finance conservation. While many works of neoliberal natures have focused in southern contexts, we want to extend the discussion of the commodification of nature and the creation of new nature values in the global north, in particular in Canadian national parks.

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