Transitioning towards sustainable tourism in the Outer Hebrides: an evolutionary investigation.

NIEWIADOMSKI, Piotr and MELLON, Victoria (2023). Transitioning towards sustainable tourism in the Outer Hebrides: an evolutionary investigation. Tourism Geographies.

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While there is rich research on tourism destination evolution, the literature on how normative social and environmental goals (as opposed to contingent events or economic imperatives) drive the evolution of tourism towards more sustainable forms remains under-developed. As a result, the overall understanding of how sustainability in tourism is pursued on the ground and what context-specific factors shape these processes is still insufficient. To address this lacuna, the paper draws upon the sustainability transitions (ST) agenda that focuses on the ground level processes of transitions and conceptualises sustainability transitions as multi-actor, multi-dimensional, evolutionary, disruptive and contested processes. As such, the paper offers a constructive response to Niewiadomski and Brouder’s (Citation2022) call for bridging the gap between the research on tourism evolution and the sustainability transitions agenda. More specifically, the paper adopts selected concepts of evolutionary economic geography (EEG) (which have long proved helpful in research on both tourism evolution and sustainability transitions) to address how sustainability in tourism is mindfully pursued in the Outer Hebrides (Scotland, UK) and what geographical and historical factors shape this transition. The analysis draws from 17 semi-structured interviews (conducted in 2020-2021 with tourism businesses and various organisations involved in tourism in the Outer Hebrides) and documentary analysis. Two main groups of place- and path-dependent factors that shape the ongoing transition to sustainable tourism in the Outer Hebrides are identified: 1) institutional and social fragmentation, and 2) infrastructural deficiencies and challenges. The paper finds that the transition to sustainability in tourism in the Outer Hebrides is fragmented and intermittent. Although numerous promising changes are taking place, the transition suffers from a lack of systemic and systematic governance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1506 Tourism; 1604 Human Geography; Sport, Leisure & Tourism; 3508 Tourism; 4406 Human geography
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2023 17:04
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2023 17:15

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