Gianna Moscardo, Professor at the College of Business, Law and Governance at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, in this interview shares her thoughts on sustainable tourism research, trends and challenges, especially overtourism (overcrowding). She also introduces us to the BEST EN sustainable tourism education think tanks and network.
- How Gianna’s view of sustainability and tourism has changed over the years;
- Sustainable tourism priorities and trends;
- The current state of tourism sustainability in Australia;
- Sustainable tourism research and the BEST EN initiative;
- 3 recommended books for tourism researchers or practitioners.
Gianna, what was your view of sustainability and tourism when you first started your professional career?
My first serious job after graduating was working in a government research centre to support sustainable human use of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. In this setting tourism was typically portrayed as the main pathway to sustainability, being the economic alternative for commercial fishing and mining. This was in some ways a very gentle introduction to tourism and sustainability, as the tourist numbers at that time were quite small on a global scale, despite having grown quite a lot and quite quickly.
Tourism to the Great Barrier Reef was strictly controlled and so direct impacts of tourism in this setting were very low and we were able to focus much of our attention on how to use tourism as a tool for education about sustainability and marine conservation. This was great in terms of learning about how to use tourism to support local communities and to teach tourists about the environments that they depend on for life, but it wasn’t typical of the rest of the world.
When I changed over to being an academic, teaching and researching tourism beyond the local region, I realized that there were major challenges in just managing the sheer volume of tourism, especially in places with far fewer resources.