Tourism, Land Grabs and Displacement: A Study with Particular Emphasis on the Global South

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Show simple item record Neef, Andreas en 2020-01-31T01:00:06Z en 2019-02 en
dc.identifier.citation Feb 2019. 125 pages en
dc.identifier.uri en
dc.description.abstract The tourism sector has not featured prominently in the debate on global land and resource grabbing that has ensued since the 2007/08 global financial crisis. Some of the reasons why the sector has stayed ‘under the radar’ are that (1) tourism is a relatively fragmented sector with numerous stakeholders along the ‘supply chain’, (2) it is a ‘feel good’ industry that stands for leisure and pleasure and is not commonly associated with violent land grabs and forced evictions, and (3) many advocacy groups have focused on infringement on local land rights by other extractive industries, such as mining and agro-industrial operations, where the scope of land grabs and evictions seems greater. Yet, there is an abundance of media reports and civil society accounts that bear testimony of the fact that evictions and displacement processes in the name of tourism increasingly threaten local communities’ right to land, housing and resources. There is also a nascent academic literature on tourism-related land grabs and displacement. This study examines the global scope of tourism-related grabbing of land and other natural resources and its diverse expressions and mechanisms, for instance by enclosing territories, evicting communities, extracting natural resources and erasing livelihood opportunities. Particular emphasis is placed on countries and regions in the Global South where land and resource rights of communities and individuals tend to be less protected by existing legal frameworks and social safeguard mechanisms. These countries have also seen the highest tourism growth rates in recent years. Encouraged by bilateral donors and international financial institutions, many governments in South and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific have prioritised tourism as their country’s growth engine and prime source of foreign direct investments. Tourism zoning, infrastructure development, and investor-friendly land legislation have paved the way for expansionist tourism development. Dispossession and displacement of local communities – often supported by the military or local security forces – are justified by invoking the ‘public purpose’ of tourism development for creating job opportunities, alleviating poverty and protecting natural and cultural heritage sites. Governments and tourism investors also claim that the land slated for tourism development has no alternative use value or has been degraded by local farming, pastoralist and fishing communities that are often labelled as threats to the environment. Tourism has been assigned an increasingly prominent role in the rehabilitation of areas affected by disasters, wars or civil conflicts. Local elites and external investors have used the aftermath of devastating tsunamis, cyclones and hurricanes as an opportunity to appropriate land from previous occupants that either perished in the disaster or were relocated from affected coastal areas, ostensibly for their own safety. This strategy has often been facilitated by government-imposed no-building zones in coastal areas that were selectively applied to local residents, while allowing the tourism industry to build hotels and resorts in prime beach locations. In post-conflict contexts, military or paramilitary forces have discovered the tourism sector as a lucrative business and have used their unrestrained power to evict former adversaries from their land or take unlawful possession of areas vacated by internally displaced people. The military and security forces also play an important role in patrolling and securing cultural heritage sites and protected areas, such as wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and biosphere reserves, so that heritage tourists, trophy hunters and eco-tourists can enjoy a largely ‘people-free’ environment. In contexts where forced evictions from tourism zones and conservation areas are politically impossible – e.g. due to the presence of strong civil society networks, independent media reporting or donor obligations – more or less voluntary forms of land acquisition and resettlement are common. Yet, acceptance of resettlement terms by local communities is often based on incomplete or false information, and very few cases are reported where communities resettled for the purpose of large-scale tourism projects or tourism-related infrastructure developments (such as airports) have been able to restore their livelihoods to pre-relocation levels, even when best-practice social and environmental safeguard principles were invoked. As many of the examples in this study show, tourism-related land grabs and dispossession do not always come in the form of forceful eviction and physical displacement of local communities. They can also take more subtle forms, such as gradual gentrification and economic and cultural displacement. Broader urban renewal projects in the context of urban heritage tourism and sporting mega-events have triggered drastic increases in land and rental prices which has crowded out local residents from the real estate market and has made housing unaffordable for the poorer strata of urban society. Residential tourism – also referred to as lifestyle migration or retirement migration – has had a similar effect in increasingly popular coastal areas of the Global South. The drastic increase of local land prices – often in combination with harassment by local tourism developers – often triggers ‘distress sales’ by local people. Apart from the direct loss of their land, housing and resource rights, many communities in touristic areas have lost their ability to manage risk through diversifying their livelihood strategies. Indigenous and non-indigenous groups have been deprived of the spiritual and cultural connection to their ancestral land and have lost invaluable local knowledge that has been transferred over several generations. Tourism zones have gradually depleted local water supplies and enclosed coastal or forest resources, with particularly adverse effects on women’s livelihoods. Tourism-related land grabs and displacement also have had a range of indirect effects, such as further social marginalisation, economic exploitation, and reduced self-determination and political participation of affected communities. Various international legal frameworks and guiding principles can be invoked by advocacy groups, human rights organisations and transnational social movements to call for the strengthening of local resource rights and the protection of vulnerable communities from tourism-induced land grabs and displacement. An important first step would be to reject all claims that people can be displaced and land can be acquired for ‘public purpose’ by tourism. The study concludes with a set of recommendations addressed to various stakeholder groups in the tourism sector with the aim of providing guidance on how to prevent the tourism industry’s further infringement on land and resource rights of local communities in the Global South. en
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dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.title Tourism, Land Grabs and Displacement: A Study with Particular Emphasis on the Global South en
dc.type Report en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en en
pubs.commissioning-body Tourism Watch en
dc.rights.accessrights en
pubs.subtype Commissioned Report en
pubs.elements-id 790398 en Arts en Social Sciences en Development Studies en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2020-01-03 en

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