Tourism in Vulnerable Coastal Areas:Towards a More Resilient Wadden Area

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Jasper HESLINGA , Spatial Planning & Environment, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Coastal areas are extremely interesting regions to examine, since a large share of the world population lives in these areas, despite threats caused by climate change and sea level rise and their consequent state of vulnerability. This research aims at answering the following question: how can vulnerable coastal areas make a transition towards areas that are more resilient and better prepared to cope with unexpected ecological, social and economic changes in the future? In this paper the concepts of tourism, complex social-ecological systems, resilience and planning will be illustrated by the case of the Dutch Wadden area, which is one of the largest tidal wetlands in the world and was enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage in 2009.

This paper will be organized in three parts. First, we will examine the concept of tourism and indicate where the academic gaps and shortcomings regarding tourism in vulnerable coastal areas can be found. Second, we will look into why, and in what ways, a complex adaptive systems approach - like a social-ecological systems approach - can be useful in analyzing tourism in vulnerable coastal areas in order to overcome the traditional separation between ecological and social sciences (Liu et al., 2007), to examine tourism in a more systematic way (Ruiz-Ballesteros, 2011)  and to find ways to develop and protect at the same time.

Third, the paper will describe governance perspectives that contribute to understanding and managing complex issues like tourism in vulnerable areas through different scales. Planning is important and has to be done carefully, since tourism can be a tool for regional development, but at the same time an agent of disruption or destruction (Getz, 1986). By means of this paper, we will eventually provide theoretical lenses for looking at the Dutch Wadden area and other vulnerable coastal areas in the world.