The Sustainable Tourism Discourse - a Critical Discourse Analysis

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:00 AM
Room: 423
Distributed Paper
Miranda CORNELISSE , Academy for Tourism, Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Despite the fact that the sometimes emotive debate on sustainable tourism in tourism studies continues (McDonald, 2009) sustainable tourism will almost certainly become the mainstream within a decade (UNESCO, 2013): two powerful organizations in the world of travel and tourism that already intensely promote sustainability in tourism development are UNWTO and WTTC. UNWTO defines itself as the leading organization in the field of tourism and is the agency of the UN which is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. WTTC is the forum for the hundred true business leaders in the travel and tourism industry. Both organizations contribute to the maximization of the socio-economic contribution of growth and prosperity through sustainable tourism development, while minimizing its possible negative impacts on people, planet and profit.

McCool and Moisey (2011) raise many questions concerning the current definition of sustainable tourism in theory and in practice. Moreover, Mowforth and Munt (2009) state, among others, that sustainable tourism is not more than just a new concept of Western-defined pleasure, which does not truly change former power relations and thus previous negative social impact of tourism on local host communities.

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) makes it possible to study the relation between a discourse and social developments in different social domains by empirically analyzing language within social contexts - ways of talking do not neutrally reflect the world, but rather play an active role in creating and changing it. With the help of CDA, this paper will A) display the current sustainable tourism discourse in relation to a historical and socio-political context and will B) give insight in the present social struggle of giving meaning to sustainable tourism, led by two world leading and powerful organizations in travel and tourism that both have different interpretations of the concept of sustainability.