This interview with Professor David Weaver takes us to Australia’s East Coast, Griffith University. Learn why, instead of ‘fighting’ mass tourism, we’d be better off accepting it as a given and to focus our attention on how we can use economies of scale in tourism to solve our most urgent problems and to empower visitors to contribute to conservation – enlightened mass tourism, as Dr Weaver calls it.
He also gives us a heads-up on the current state of sustainable tourism research around the world, the unfortunate gap between academia and practitioners, and where he sees the research priorities for the years ahead.
- The first time David heard about sustainability linked to tourism, and how his view has changed over the years;
- The main challenges in sustainable tourism research – and practice – in Australia;
- Which should be the priorities for the next ten years of sustainable tourism research;
- Which persons and organizations have served David as inspiration;
- Why it can be difficult to demonstrate the relevance and ROI – societal impact – of academic research.
David, do you remember the first time you thought about sustainability in connection with tourism?
I honestly cannot recall my first awareness of this in terms of the actual semantics of ‘sustainable tourism’. However, from the late 1970s, I can recall a consistent narrative whereby conventional mass tourism was framed as destructive, inappropriate, etc. In the early 1980s, alternative tourism was then touted as a better way to go, so that I guess was a surrogate for sustainable tourism.
This all seemed very heady at the time, and few of us conceived that mass tourism could be appropriate as well, influenced as we were by Dependency Theory and the like. I was in a Social Sciences faculty, but perhaps I would have had a different perspective if I had been in a Business faculty.