Michele Pooley

This study has been restricted by time and finances which did not allow for primary research.  All the research is secondary, and therefore further primary research is necessary to accurately assess sustainable tourism practice in Cornwall and Andalucia.  Official information on Andalucia was much harder to arrive at than was expected, given the recent developments in information technology and the greater integration of the EU.  Perhaps this serves to demonstrate the fact that free exchange of information still needs to be expanded.  Additional information might serve to alter the conclusions drawn from this research.  The topics of this study are very wide-ranging and each could be studied in greater depth individually, however the confines of this paper require that much of the detail that might have been discussed receive only a brief overview.

To sum up the findings of this study it appears that where sustainable tourism has been adopted in mass tourism destinations it is usually in a very ‘shallow’ form, and has often been prompted by EU directives or government regulation.  Socio-economic pressures are a major influence on the extent to which sustainable tourism is implemented elsewhere, and economic constraints are the biggest barrier to sustainability.  The tourism strategies for both Cornwall and Andalucia are primarily concerned with the economic development of the regions, focusing on ways to improve marketing and expand their markets and their market share.  The ultimate aim is to increase visitor numbers and tourism providers, and to expand and improve visitor attractions.  Evidently economic and commercial considerations continue to dominate the direction of the tourism industry in both regions.  The private sector inexorably seeks to expand its market (and economic rewards are always its highest priority), whilst governments are also driven by a desire for economic growth. 

Uneven distribution is the natural result of a market-led industry (Butler, 1993; Eadington & Redman, 1991; Smith & Eadington, 1994) [get full references here], and both Cornwall and Andalucia demonstrate the extremes of the benefits and costs of tourism in social, economic and environmental terms.  Government and EU policies attempt to balance some of the inequalities of  market forces through planning and subsidy, but Hall remarks that unfortunately those areas most in need of development schemes often lack the capital to invest in them so lose out to those who do have it (1994).  This appears to be borne out by Hughes’ article, in which he notes that one of the reasons for the success of Glasgow’s bid to win the title of European City of Culture in 1990 was that it ‘promised to fully finance the event and not to demand funds from central government’ (1995: 29).  Change has been slow because of the intricate bureaucracy involved in obtaining EU money; the redistributive efforts of the EU are complicated and often thwarted by the demand for ‘matched funding’.  This is a particular problem in Cornwall where budgets are set by central government, but in Andalucia the advantage of being an autonomous community means that it can allocate public monies at a regional level.  However, with the impending expansion of Europe to include Eastern European states, EU funding may be diluted or even redirected to other under-developed areas.

Tourism has always been a high-risk investment due to its vulnerability to economic fluctuations, seasonality and fashion.  De-industrialising cities have begun to challenge the traditional sun sea and sand holiday as they increasingly provide leisure and cultural attractions so diversification and specialisation is necessary to compete with the attractions of other destinations.  However, the extent to which a sustainable tourism product is developed depends largely upon the level of commitment each area has in putting the principles of sustainability into practice.  It has been shown that small scale and niche products can revive the economy without competing with mass tourism, but are they really more sustainable?  The Brundtland Commission (1987) defined sustainable development as that which ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. 

Crain’s study of Almonte shows that any kind of tourism development may be sustainable for one part of a community and yet not sustainable for another depending on local circumstances and individual perspectives.  Careful analysis of local sensitivities are necessary prior to introducing rural tourism to avoid destruction of traditional lifestyles.  A new form of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which includes socio-cultural and economic impacts is needed. 

Culture is important in attracting visitors to Cornwall and Andalucia.  It is the source of a strong regional identity and is a useful tool for promoting these areas and enhancing tourist perceptions of the regions.   The idea of Cornishness existed long before a national identity emerged in the 1800s, but ‘for cultural identity to exist and have meaning it must be believed in as authentic’ (Ireland, 1998: 26).  Exploitation by the tourism industry means that Cornishness is now regarded as inauthentic and is therefore diminishing in value.  Some areas of Andalucia face enormous cultural pressures where the involvement of foreign tour operators results in mass Fordist-style international tourism.  This causes culturation; the host culture is dominated by  foreign tourists and cultural identity is devalued and threatened.  In these resorts Spanish is no longer the prevalent language and fast foods or foreign tastes are catered for in preference to traditional food.  Language and tradition are two important aids for preserving cultural identity, but the unique traditional festivals in both Cornish and Andalucian communities are increasingly a focus of the ‘tourist gaze’ (Urry, 1990), and are becoming commodified. 

It appears that sustainable tourism has so far had little real influence on tourism development in Cornwall and Andalucia, except to sustain the rate of economic growth.  In some areas it is evident that the tourism products offered just play lip-service to sustainability, and the word ‘sustainable’ is just a label used to sell a more expensive holiday.  But sustainable tourism  must be ‘real’ change, not just a superficial ‘makeover’.  Private enterprise is driven by economics and therefore it is unrealistic to expect the private sector to make decisions which give cultural and environmental objectives parity.  Sustainable tourism planning must take account of the fact that tourism is a competitive business and build in incentives for change.  The reality is that sustainable tourism must be economically beneficial in the short term for it to be adopted into ordinary business practice. 

This is clearly demonstrated in Spain where sustainable tourism had little influence until the crisis in the late 1980s when decline in tourism receipts prompted national action.  The Secretaria General de Turismo (SGT) and TURESPANA, together with regional administrations then began working for higher environmental standards in order to appeal to market demand and rejuvenate the mass tourism market.   Nevertheless, the theory that demand will lead to sustainable tourism is questionable.  It must be noted that there is no economic pressure on tourists to demand a sustainable tourism product since mass tourism can offer a considerably less expensive option.   Neither is there any pressure on tourists to behave in a way that is compatible with the ideals of sustainable tourism, for example by not demanding use of a swimming pool or by using less towels.  The benefits of educating the public to demand a more sustainable approach to tourism is questionable since tourism is essentially a hedonistic business, pandering to people’s desires for luxury and pleasure-seeking.  Moral motivation alone is not enough to change the actions of  most tourists; sustainable tourism must ultimately appeal to their self-interest. 

The UK approach to encourage the development of sustainable tourism is through partnership and self-regulation, but current development strategies appear to be too vague and too broad to achieve the changes to tourism practice that are required to attain genuine sustainability.  In an industry that is so fragmented and diverse, it is difficult for local governments to produce an effective sustainable tourism strategy for either Cornwall or Andalucia, therefore a clear national strategy is needed to guide regional planning towards a sustainable tourism product.  Andalucia has the benefit of a tourism strategy that has been evolving over many years since the crisis of the late 1980s.

Redevelopment ‘based on a planned approach ... requires much time and financial investment’ (WTO, 1994: 3).  The first step is to prepare a study to identify critical elements and objectives.  Next a framework is needed to negotiate between the
conflicting demands of different stakeholders.  Local autonomy in planning is necessary to achieve a locally orientated plan which is capable of coordinating public and private sector cooperation, but this must then be integrated with regional and national budgets and objectives.  Once tourism plans are made it is essential that a clear tourism policy is set out and the authority to prevent circumvention of regulations is allocated to the relevant enforcement agencies (the hierarchy of tourism planning in Spain is notoriously bureaucratic, and this makes regulation of tourism policy in Andalucia very patchy). 

Monitoring and long-term impact assessments are then needed to ensure that policies are effective and that sustainable tourism is really what is being developed. It is particularly difficult to regulate the tourism industry in rural areas where it is made up mostly by small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  Here direction must be provided using indirect measures such as financial encouragement or penalty.  Local and regional government in the UK do not have enough economic power to control tourism,  but they do control planning and land use.  Therefore they must use the powers they have to assert authority and gain control over private enterprise, without stifling entrepreneurial investment.  Nevertheless it is extremely difficult to achieve a balanced approach, and even when development is community-led it can still be loaded in favour of economic development.  This was illustrated in Crain’s study of Almonte, where Almontenos supported tourism even though it threatened an environmentally sensitive area and commodified their local cultural tradition in El Rocio.  Public bodies must be empowered to control and direct private enterprise, but they must negotiate a balance between local, national and international objectives for socio-cultural, environmental and economic sustainability.

It is noteworthy that EU Structural Funds have been instrumental in the development of alternative tourism projects, and this is an indirect result of EU social and agricultural policies.  The EU does not as yet have a tourism policy, but it has nevertheless had a strong influence on sustainable tourism in both regions.  Bramwell notes that ‘the recent European Commission Green Paper on Tourism (1995: DG XXIII) argues that it is important for the future of the European tourism industry to operate according to the principles of sustainable development’ (1996: 440).  The EU has been at the forefront of funding independent research into the impacts of tourism because it has been shown to have such a profound effect on the economic, socio-cultural and environmental well-being of an area. 

There is a continuing need for models to help analyse tourism development and devise effective tourism policy in order to regulate the industry.  Though not all instances are transferable, where it is possible to learn from mistakes or benefit from successes, it is important to do so.  Monitoring is also a necessary part of tourism development and long-term impact assessments are essential if a truly sustainable tourism product is ever to be achieved.  The expense and responsibility for this kind of research is unlikely to be supported by the private sector unless it is made compulsory, and even then may present a subjective view.  Therefore, it is in the interests of the state and for the common good if independent research is financed by the public sector. 

The impreciseness of the term ‘sustainable tourism’ has allowed a gradual re-direction of thinking (Daly, 1992), but transformation of the tourism industry requires specific Government and EU action.  Incentives are needed for the development of a more sustainable tourism product, for example by the introduction of financial encouragement and penalties such as a ‘polluter pays’ policy.  Using the framework of sustainable tourism as an adaptive paradigm it is possible to devise strategies which respond to varying local priorities, yet are precise enough to make a genuine impact on the tourism industry.  This paper demonstrates that there is considerable time-lapse between thought and deed; for example, sustainable tourism plans made early in the 1990s have only just begun to come to fruition in Andalucia, and considerable effort has to be made to ensure that what is agreed in theory eventually becomes practice.  Guidance in the form of a precise tourism strategy from central government coupled with regional autonomy seems to be the best way to ensure that sustainable tourism becomes the norm, whilst still being flexible enough to adapt to local sensibilities, needs and priorities.

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