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Political Economy and Tourism - Group 6

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    Group 6:  Fanny Tschofen, Cecile GuermannHanah Zavahir, Farzaneh Tavajohi Hassan Kiadeh


    Political science is a discipline that studies power and the distribution of power in political systems. This study aims to understand the sources of power, how it is exercised and by whom, and also who gains and who loses in power struggle (Scott, 2015).

    Nowadays tourism is seen as a means for development by international agencies and many governments. The economic benefits are influenced by factors of power and control, but also by economic theory. Political science tries also to understand the relationship between political and economic institutions and processes (Scheyvens, 2002; cited in Holden, 2005).


    First, power is a social concept which defines the capacity to exert pressure on a person or group so that they do something they would not have done otherwise (Hoffman & Graham, 2006). The study of power is wide: there are the investigation of individual political attitudes and behaviour, but also the examination of state activities at national and international levels (Scott, 2015).



    There are different definitions for development. For instance we use it in our everyday life when we want to say somebody has progress in his activity, behavior or skills (Holden, 2005). About the changes through Industrial Revolution, that applied changes in social and economic we also use development while different level of development occurred (Holden, 2005). After the Second World War during the Capitalism, countries have achieved political independency which can be referred as development and this time was actually the beginning of theorizing of development (Holden, 2005). During this time USA and UK as the leaders of Allied nations were seeking to set up a new system of regulations to govern the global economy. Which has happened during a meeting of international leaders and led to the establishment of institutions to produce new regulations for world economy such as; IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and WTO (World Trade Organization)  (Holden, 2005).  Moreover the speech of President Truman in 1949 presented a new significant definition in terms of International development, by defining development as an economic measurement. He introduced the Developed and Underdeveloped worlds and First worlds refer to industrialized and capitalist countries and Third worlds, the economically developing and politically nonaligned countries, according to the evaluation the quantity of national income and political orientation. But nowadays the Third world refers to the being derogatory and developing countries (Holden, 2005). Afterward, while the development associated with economic progress it ignored the wealth of a range of the society. As a result, the development was measured by the material wealth disregarding the range of democratic, freedom and environmental issues and an underdeveloped country required to grow in economy (Holden, 2005). After the second World War different type of development in different theories have been introduced including modernization, dependency, economic neoliberalisation, alternative and sustainable development (Holden, 2005).


    Then the dependency theory is one of the main theory in political science, because this theory argues that developing countries have external and internal political and institutional and economic structures that keep them in a dependent position in relation to developed countries (Bianchi, 1999, cited in Holden, 2005). The lack of progress in the developing countries is not caused by their weaknesses or their failure to blossom a culture of enterprise, but by the developed countries who deliberately underdeveloped them (Frank, cited in Holden, 2005). The relationship between these two types of countries is an exploitative and dependency one. According to Katznelson and Milner (2002), two main causes of economic difficulties occur: the “impersonal economic forces arising from the dependent country's position in the international economy” and the own interests of the transnational companies who do not care about the national interests.


    Hence, development, especially for developing countries, passes through investment capital, entrepreneurial skills and technical knowledge (Holden, 2005). Most of the developing countries have a high level of poverty and a low level of development. In the 1960’s, the first official United Nations Development Decade thought that the less-developed countries’ problems would be solve by financial transfers, technology and experience from the developed countries (Elliott, 1994, World Bank, 2000; cited in Holden, 2005). During this period, tourism was in equation with the economic development which was a part of the modernization process (transfer of capital, technology, expertise and modern values from the West countries to the less-developed countries). In the 1970’s, tourism was still increasing but the multiplier effect decreased and the economic leakages were high. Metropolitan generating countries exploited peripheral destination societies: exploitive relationship between developed and developing countries to the detriment of these last. International tourism was held by the Western countries who possessed better entrepreneurial skills, resources and commercial power to dominate less-developed countries. Nowadays, tourism is still held by a lot of multinationals that deprives the developing countries to extend their economic politics. In addition, the dependency theory which explains the underdevelopment of these countries, does not offer solutions to these problems (Holden, 2005).


    Economic Neoliberalism

    Neoliberalism is a political philosophy, it means that the intervention of the state in economy and society is not welcome ( Indeed, markets’ mechanisms (The supply and demand, the individual choices and the competition) should be free and, thanks to that, reach the highest level of efficiency and wealth. Markets need to be privatised and the states should have no control on it (Holden, 2005). Before 1930, the dominant theory was the liberalism, it is the same than neoliberalism. After the economic crisis of 1930, the keynésianism appeared (this theory is for a state more present in economy and society. The state have to assure a better repartition of wealth, what allow the economic recovery and stimulate consumption and the investment). The two oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 have compromised this theory and the liberalism is come back. It is the begin of neoliberalism who literally means ‘’new liberalism’’ (


    Alternative and sustainable development

    The previous theories were based on economic growth and top-down diffusion by a general lack of concern for the environment. But the alternative development is concerned with practical matters and centered upon individuals and environment, focuses on democracy and down-top diffusion (Holden, 2005). Beside the economic growth it works for a development which is socially desirable and environmentally benign and calls for equitable, environment friendly, and balanced development to provide a better quality of life for human being (Bhattacharyya, 2012). This leaded to new approaches for evaluating development regarding the quality of life. Instead of economic measurement it evaluates Human development and Human poverty (Holden, 2005). This new theory shows a people-focused and participatory approaches to development (Mowforth, Munt, 2003 cited in Holden, 2005). The aim is to meet basic human needs and development of human personality. Therefore, it works against crisis such as diseases, malnutrition. (Holden, 2005) It has a great emphasis on the conservation of the environment and ecosystem (Holden, 2005). The healthy environment is crucial for the well-being of human and other species (Waas, Verbruggen, Wright, 2010). This linking between human development and the conservation of environment is the base of Sustainable development (Holden, 2005). While the environmental problems attracted the attention it became clear that there is a close bond between environment and development (Holden, 2005). Sustainable development has been found as the best way to resolve the complex problems of modern world for the sake of current and future generations (waas,, 2010). While the development requires rich and healthy natural resources, the environment requires a healthy development or sustainable development which does not exclude the costs out of environment destruction (Holden, 2005). The previous approaches resulted in overuses of natural resources and this leaded to the necessity of sustainable development (Holden, 2005). During the last decade of twentieth century the sustainable development has become broadly spread through different countries and governments and some international lending agencies and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have been established (Holden, 2005). But some of these several organizations could have different and politically opposed objectives and it leads to a variety of perspectives to be taken on sustainability (Holden, 2005). Beside the main purpose of sustainable development other basic elements require to be worked on such as, the alleviation of poverty, degradation of the environment, and issues of intra- and intergenerational equity (Richardson, 1997 cited in Holden, 2005).


    Application of sustainability in tourism

    In the tourism sector the concept of sustainability can be applied in different ways, there is national and local level but also public, private and voluntary sectors (Holden, 2005). Since few, to be sustainables,  companies have to place the environment in central position. According to Butler (1998: 27, cited in Holden, 2005), tourism industry has adopted  the concept of sustainability for three reasons: economics, public relations and marketing. Sustainable tourism should optimised the way of it use environmental resources, conserve natural heritage and biodiversity with maintain essential ecological processes. Furthermore, it had to respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities (built, living cultural heritage, traditional values). Finally, sustainable tourism should ensure viable, long-term economic operations, and providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed (stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation (The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)). Local people are the most affected by changes created by tourism industry, it is why they are more abilitated to make decision about development at local level and act as stewards of the environment than external parties (Holden,  2005). When locals make decision is tourism, environment is favorisate. New form of tourism that is a type of alternative tourism is ‘’ecotourism’’, that can be mistaken with sustainable tourism. Indeed they have the same central focus: nature, but the political and economic dimensions are different. Cater (1994: 5, cited in Holden,  2005) said that ecotourism is a form of ‘’alternative tourism’’, to be able to understand, the term ‘’alternative tourism’’ need to be clarify. Alternative tourism is term used to indicate the different ways of mass tourism, there is some forms of alternative tourism: rural tourism, social tourism, etc ( The political economy structure, environmental and social responsibility and ecotourism long term sustainability are some of question relating to ecotourism. What is exactly the aim of ecotourism, is it only promoting the nature and physical characteristics of environments to encourage more tourism or is it a form of more balanced and environmentally sustainable development (Holden, 2005)? Ecotourism have two main ways, the first one is use ecotourism to attract international tourism thanks to the quality of the environment and so reach economic objectives almost without government’s regulations. It affects resources and is not anymore sustainable. The second one is based upon resource conservation (low-scale and low-impact), it is a development local level and local involvement in development decision making is high. Multinationals corporations are minimised but there is still intermediaries that can be international (airlines companies, niche tour operators, etc) (Holden, 2005). Ecotourism should not be mistaken with sustainable tourism because it is two differents things. Ecotourism is not all the time sustainable.


    sustainable tourism – eliminating poverty

    In order to guarantee the well-being of environment for a long time it is crucial to work on the alleviation of poverty. Since a big part of the environmental destructions is due to the poverty while, through the populations growth there is a high pressure on marginal environments (Holden, 2005). In the developing world, biggest part of population suffer from poverty and people are under pressure in meeting their basic needs and the nations feel the pressure while have to  supply for the population and these all leads to the overuse and destruction of natural resources (Elliott, 1994 cited in Holden, 2005). Nowadays tourism industry is highly recommended to lesser developed countries. These countries often have limited development opportunities in most of economy sectors but, these are rich in natural and cultural resources by owning wildlife and cultural festivals, that are pleasant for tourists and an important element in tourism industry and this is great chance for eliminating poverty (Holden, 2005). Pro-poor tourism focuses on developing countries and generates profit for poor population to empowering them and benefiting their livelihoods based on sustainable development principles to eliminate poverty. This brings environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits (Holden, 2005). In order to reaching these goals, it is necessary to giving them the access in tourism markets and



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