If you follow this blog frequently you might know that from time to time we publish final master thesis from the students that graduated from the Master of Arts Tourism Destination Management at Breda University of Applied Sciences.

This example is produced by Margareta Spranger and deals with ‘From lockdown to recovery’, a more resilient future for Munich tourism in the context of degrowth. Below you can find the executive summary of the paper. If you would like to read the whole thesis, please send an email to master-tdm@buas.nl. Enjoy the read! 

The master thesis aims to discuss a more resilient future for urban tourism with the example of Munich, Germany, following the global Covid-19 crisis. This is done by exploring solutions in relation to the degrowth paradigm with the residents functioning as the most important stakeholders. While urban tourism grew significantly over the past decade, there were many conflicts circling overtourism and overcrowding in popular urban destinations. At the same time, certain limits to the economy of growth became all the more evident in light of the global pandemic. In Munich overtourism is not yet a problem, however, first signs of resident’s dissatisfaction can be observed. So, as the pandemic is seen as an accelerator for discussions to rethink tourism, Munich makes for an interesting destination to explore the recovery in terms of tourism for the city not the city for tourist.

The goal for this research was to explore a more resilient future for Munich, and therefore, various perspectives were taken into consideration. For this, semi-structured interviews with industry experts and residents of Munich were conducted, as well as a focus group with BA tourism students focusing on destination management and sustainable tourism. A thematic analysis led to three major themes that describe the findings of this research: 1) Munich tourism: between economic importance, indifference and new opportunities; 2) Degrowth, from catchphrase to ultimate goal; 3) Off the beaten track tourism: a problematic approach.

Findings suggested that residents of Munich don’t perceive tourism as a problem, however, consciously avoid certain tourist hotspots or mega events such as the Octoberfest. Also, they are not aware of the DMO as the tourism planning organisation, but, like experts, Munich residents acknowledge the economic importance of the tourism industry. Further, new opportunities were spawned by the pandemic through alternative concepts implemented by the city and people realizing that things can go differently. Secondly, research showed that in an expert opinion, the degrowth paradigm is a valid approach to a more sustainable future. However, to reach the local communities it needs to become more practical. Lastly, off the beaten track tourism proved to be a difficult approach for the city of Munich. As residents are aware of tourist hotspots, they do not want tourism to spread to the different neighbourhoods. In addition, Airbnb, new hotel projects and the large influx of residents cause rejection of tourism spreading.

Overall, findings indicated that for tourism to be accepted it cannot be present within people’s living space. As a certain lack of communication between tourism officials and residents was detected, three consecutive actions points were suggested: 1) Establishing collaboration between the Munich DMO and other local online magazines and blogs to create space for encounters and increase acceptance; 2) Creating awareness to enable participation and co-creation; 3) Dispersing tourists in order to avoid crowds at main tourist attractions and at peak times by introducing suitable visitor guidance concepts following a low-touch approach.

In conclusion, the degrowth paradigm can resort to various supporting concepts to enable a more resilient future, especially with a more socially responsible tourism. Based on this it is time to steer away from conventional tourism concepts and involve resident’s more in the decision-making process.