This is the second issue of “TDM Insights”, the online journal of the Master in Tourism Destination Management at the Breda University of Applied Sciences. In “TDM Insights”, alumni present their master dissertation topics that are discussed by BUas lecturers and other academics and practicioners. The online journal additionally features columns on contemporary issues in tourism submitted by industry experts. Download the second issue of the journal here: TDM Insights – Issue II.
Below you can read a message from the editors.
By now it is probably clear, especially to the readers of this journal, that the impacts of tourism cannot be ignored. Impacts occur on a local level, such as the generation of money and jobs, the creation of meaningful interactions between inhabitants and visitors, and the preservation of cultural heritage and the natural environment (or their negative counterparts). But there is also increasing awareness of the impacts of tourism on a global level. According to the PhD research of Paul Peeters, one of our contributors, air travel will, if allowed unregulated growth, by 2070 generate more CO2 emissions than agreed at the Paris Climate Agreement (2015) for all of the world.
Awareness is one thing, solving this problem is something completely different. It brings to mind the Prisoner’s dilemma, a well-known concept from game theory: Two people are arrested for a serious crime, but there is no evidence. They are put in separate rooms – and cannot communicate with one another. They are then offered three choices: (1) If they both remain silent they will only get a fine; (2) if one confesses and acknowledges that both of them are guilty, this person will be set free while the other one will be sent to jail for 10 years (3); If they both confess, they will get five years each. Although they would jointly be better of remaining silent each suspect has an incentive to confess. If the other person confesses, he is better off confessing as well. If the other person remains silent, confession is also the best strategy, as a result of which both are worse off.
This metaphor can be translated to tourism: There is no doubt that addressing the negative impacts of tourism, like the CO2 emissions or degradation of our natural assets, will in the end make the world, destinations, and people better off. The downside is these effort can be costly and might only be effectively realized by limiting the amount of tourism. When destinations are not convinced their efforts to become more sustainable will be copied by competitors, they might feel their own efforts will simply hurt themselves and make no positive difference globally. Because each destination is making this consideration, the two-person prisoners’ dilemma is now turned into a ‘multiplayer prisoner’s dilemma’ – also referred to as the ‘tragedy of the commons’. The decision made by each participant (destination) is out of line with their collective interest.
Whose responsibility is it then to get us out of this dilemma or stop the tragedy? Local governments? National governments? Our world leaders? The tourism industry? Or is up to the tourists themselves? This issue of TDMI confronts the dilemma head on – delivering food for thought, highlighting the idealistic and the pragmatic, and offering some ideas worth trying. By putting together this issue, for which we gratefully acknowledge all TDM alumni and the respondents, we can maybe, just maybe, inspire and engage the world – and destinations – to become a little bit more sustainable.
Let’s just say that that is our responsibility as an editing team!