Wednesday, 24 March 2021
If we want tourism to continue in a post COVID-19 world it has to change to a net benefit model, according to Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Queensland’s Griffith University and Principal Science Investment Adviser at Department of Conservation, Susanne Becken.
Speaking at the University of Otago Tourism Policy School in Queenstown last Friday, she says that humans have profoundly altered the planet.
“Tourism is an inherently consumptive activity; there’s a need for a new model to ensure tourism makes a positive contribution.”
Professor Becken says, “We need to determine what do we measure to determine a net benefit? What is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’? For example, the public sector cost-benefit account? Who receives the benefit/profit and who pays, including external costs, and are there any non-negotiables or taboos?”
Professor Becken says we need to find a “sweet spot” where value and volume of tourism meet. She also says that the four elements of human well-being – environmental, social, economic, and cultural – must be balanced in the new model.
Through her work in the Tourism Futures Taskforce, an independent group established to advise the New Zealand government on changes needed to the industry, she says that tourism needs to contribute to the four well-being elements through regenerative tourism.
“We need to move from extractive to regenerative models of tourism.”
Sharing a similar view, United Kingdom founder of company Conscious Travel and Tourism Futures Taskforce member Anna Pollock says that the earth is on a journey from degenerating to a much more positive regenerating model.
“Regenerate means to create the fertile conditions for life to thrive. Or to build the capability for individuals, business, and communities to flourish.”
In her work with Department of Conservation Professor Becken weighs up all the impacts and advises on the future land use.
“Tourism cannot be ‘net-positive’ if we include all impacts and, unless we talk about small-scale and specific scopes. But we can increase the value of tourism and manage its costs. This may have to involve managing volume or tourist numbers.
“Regenerative principles provide a pathway, but they will all look different for different activities and or context.”
In conclusion Professor Becken says net benefit tourism requires an open mind and new ways of delivering and experiencing places through tourism and visitation.
For more information, contact:
Professor of Sustainable Tourism
Griffith Institute for Tourism