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The Micro Geopolitics of (Eco)Tourism: Competing Discourses and Collaboration in New Zealand and Brazil

This social science, interdisciplinary research deals with 'competing discourses' and 'collaboration'. The thesis examines issues of power in (eco)tourism development as manifested in the discursive construction and positionality of local stakeholders. It then inquires whether collaborative schemes can bridge the various interest groups dealing with nature tourism activities in a way that they can expand social, economic and environmental benefits. The language they use, the context they live in, and their relationships and interactions are systematically deconstructed to unveil possible collaborative models for conflict resolution that can advance the practices of (eco)tourism as well as bring collective gains regionally. The study maps the micro geopolitics that exist in all levels of ecotourism development: in its conceptualisation, design, planning and management. Focusing on nodes of conflict and nodes of collaboration, case studies were chosen in New Zealand and in Brazil that encompass public and private actors in (eco)tourism such as government agencies and small-scale tour operators. The 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, Kuaka New Zealand Education Travel, and Silves and Itacar in Brazil are investigated in depth. The researcher is concerned with the values, perceptions and attitudes of local actors about the role and importance of (eco)tourism as a concentration area for conservationist networks. The author is skeptical about the constructions of (eco)tourism outside the context of local stakeholders that are 'imported' or imposed on them in a way that it increases pre-existing tensions and conflicts. With many cases in the literature showing that (eco)tourism lacks an institutional archetype to deliver all its promises, it is plausible to talk about nature-based tourism instead. However, the claim is not that simple, because ecotourism entails contentious issues; it is a complex activity as one takes it for social inclusion and as a tool for regional economic development. The author advocates that representative collaboration and partnerships can ease the move from destructive to constructive conflicts in (eco)tourism. Ecotourism is a complex activity as one uses it for social inclusion and as a tool for regional economic development. The author argues that the way (eco)tourism has been envisaged demands participatory managing structures such as local environmental governance (LEG) and deliberative associational spaces. One of the assumptions is that '(eco)tourism' can become even more meaningful and functional in its conservationist mission if locally discursively constructed, negotiated, and consensually implemented. For deconstructing the cases, 'critical contextual discourse analysis' (CCDA) was developed. It is a methodological approach and tool used to shed light on textual production (written or spoken), consumption and interpretation, and its influences on social practices within a specific regional context. Social constructionism and theory of collaboration conceptually introduce the case. The author adopted a 'critical realist' stand. In the analysis, collaborative adaptive management, triple bottom line, corporate social responsibility, accreditation programmes, and the importance of environmental education for human attachment to nature are discussed as a background. On the whole, 17 interviewees in New Zealand and 42 in Brazil contributed to this study. Yet, in order to contrast statements on the ground, questionnaires were sent to 37 tour operators in New Zealand. Secondary qualitative and quantitative data significantly added to the investigation, helping to validate or refute preliminary assumptions.
Type of thesis
Lima, I. B. de. (2008). The Micro Geopolitics of (Eco)Tourism: Competing Discourses and Collaboration in New Zealand and Brazil (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4434
The University of Waikato
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