Tourism Ethics


An Environmental Justice Framework for Indigenous Tourism

Whyte, K. (2010). An environmental justice framework for indigenous tourism. Environmental Philosophy. 7(2), 75-92.

Environmental tourism is a growing practice in indigenous communities worldwide. As members of indigenous communities, what environmental justice framework should we use to evaluate these practices? I argue that, while some of the most relevant and commonly discussed norms are fair compensation and participative justice, we should also follow Robert Figueroa’s claim that “recognition justice” is relevant for environmental justice. I claim that from Figueroa’s analysis there is a “norm of direct participation,” which requires all environmental tourism practices to feature a forum for meaningful representation and consideration. This claim motivates a distinction between practices that should be termed “mutually advantageous exploitation” and  those that should be termed “environmental coalition development.” We need to ask ourselves whether we should continue to tolerate mutually advantageous exploitation and how we can increase the number of practices that develop coalitions.

Poverty Tourism, Justice, and Policy: Can Ethical Ideals Form the Basis of New Regulations?

Outterson, K., Selinger, E., & Whyte, K. (2011). Poverty Tourism, Justice, and Policy: Can Ethical Ideals Form the Basis of New Regulations?. public integrity, 14(1), 39-50.

Should poverty tourism be subject, on moral grounds, to specific policy constraints? This article responds to the question by testing poverty tourism against the ethical guideposts of compensation justice, participative justice, and recognition justice, and two case descriptions, favela tours in Rocinha and garbage dump tours in Mazatlan. It argues that the complexity of the social relationships involved in the tours requires policy-relevant research and solutions. 

Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent

Whyte, K. P., Selinger, E., & Outterson, K. (2011). Poverty tourism and the problem of consent. Journal of Global Ethics, 7(3), 337-348.

Is it morally permissible for financially privileged tourists to visit places for the purpose of experiencing where poor people live, work, and play? Tourism associated with this question is commonly referred to as ‘poverty tourism’. While some poverty tourism is plausibly ethical, other practices will be more controversial. The purpose of this essay is to address mutually beneficial cases of poverty tourism and advance the following positions. First, even mutually beneficial transactions between tourists and residents in poverty tourism always run a risk of being exploitative. Second, there is little opportunity to determine whether a given tour is exploitative since tourists lack good access to the residents’ perspectives. Third, if a case of poverty tourism is exploitative, it is so in an indulgent way; tourists are not compelled to exploit the residents. In light of these considerations, we conclude that would-be tourists should participate in poverty tours only if there is a well-established collaborative and consensual process in place, akin to a ‘fair trade’ process.

Tourism and Environmental Justice

Higgins-Desbiolles, F., Whyte, K. P., Tedmanson, D. (2013). Tourism and Environmental Justice. In Just Leisure. Eds K. Schwab & D. Dustin. Sagamore Publishing. 91-101.

The tourism industry has remained narrowly focused on its commercial dimensions. This paper will begin by showing that tourism is an area rife with issues of (in)equity and (in)justice. Part of the environmental justice movement’s approach has involved coming up with tools for assessing how well organizations have fulfilled the needs of communities subjected to injustices. The results of this paper will make an important contribution to understandings of justice in tourism.It will do this by exploring whether the gap found in the wider environmental arena between environmentalism and environmental justice is also evident in the tourism domain; and if such a gap is identified, analysing the roles tourism activism and scholarship might play in addressing this gap. The broader aim of our research is to fuse social movement action in tourism to achieve more holistic sustainability outcomes.

No High Hopes for Hopeful Tourism: A Critical Comment

Higgins-Desbiolles, F., & Whyte, K. P. (2013). No high hopes for hopeful tourism: A critical comment. Annals of Tourism Research, (40), 428-433.

Pritchard, Morgan, and Ateljevic (2011) have contributed to tourism studies by providing a preliminary framework for the emerging critical tourism perspective. This framework calls for ‘‘hopeful tourism’’ research which they describe as ‘‘ . . . a values-led humanist approach based on partnership, reciprocity and ethics, which aims for co-created learning, and which recognises the power of sacred and indigenous knowledge and passionate scholarship’’ (2011, p. 929). Despite the positive connotations of many of these words, we are uneasy about the agenda being set by their work. We would ask: why would Pritchard et al. discard criticalness for the sake of instilling hopefulness in the tourism academy and to what effect? We write this response in the spirit of a dialogue where discussion of intellectual differences and diverging views motivates greater solidarity among people dedicated to exposing oppression in the world and eliminating its foundations. This form of dialogue has been championed by bell hooks (1994, p. 130), on whom Pritchard et al. rely heavily in their article.

Conflicts, Battlefields, Indigenous Peoples and Tourism: Addressing Dissonant Heritage in Warfare Tourism in Australia and North America in the Twenty-first Century

Harvey Lemelin, R., Powys Whyte, K., Johansen, K., Higgins Desbiolles, F., Wilson, C., & Hemming, S. (2013). Conflicts, battlefields, indigenous peoples and tourism: addressing dissonant heritage in warfare tourism in Australia and North America in the twenty-first century. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 7(3), 257-271.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the omission of Indigenous narratives in battlefields and sites of conflicts while also highlighting how certain battlefields and sites of conflicts have attempted to address dissonant heritage by diversifying interpretation strategies and implementing elements of collaborative management approaches, thereby addressing Indigenous erasure.

Can "a" Culture of Peace be Exploitative?: An Environmental Justice Perspective on Peace Through Tourism

Whyte, K. P. (2013). Can “a” culture of peace be exploitative?: An environmental justice perspective on peace through tourism. In Peace Through Tourism: Promoting Human Security Through International Citizenship. Eds Lynda-ann Blanchard & Freya Higgins-Desbiolles. Routledge. 48-60.      

The International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) sees its “mission” as “promoting a ‘Culture of Peace Through Tourism.’” The immediate assumptions appear to be that there is but one culture of peace and that tourism is the kind of activity that necessarily promotes it. Statements about “a” or “one” or “a single” culture are troubling because of our sensitivities to difference. Advocates of peace through tourism certainly emphasize the questions about the suitability of tourism itself for the purpose of peace. They also comment on the different kinds of peace that are sought, form inner peace to nonviolence. I focus on the first assumption in this chapter.

Critical Perspectives on Tourism

Higgins‐Desbiolles, F., & Powys Whyte, K. (2014). Critical Perspectives on Tourism (pp. 88-98). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Critical perspectives on tourism emerged in the aftermath of boosterism, a result of the enthusiasm for mass tourism in the postwar boom. In the 1970s, the negative impacts of tourism became undeniable and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) arose to challenge the exploitation and damages of tourism and champion the rights of grassroots communities. However, tourism research has engaged very little with these critical perspectives from NGOs. New critical perspectives are emerging with the development of the critical tourism studies movement in the last decade. The chapter overviews the origins and key works in critical tourism studies, outlines the parameters of a recent debate in this area, and highlights potential future research agendas. The concern is to maintain critical perspectives on the structural injustices and inequities of tourism to benefit those people living at the blunt edge of tourism impacts.

2015 Higgins-Desbiolles-Whyte - Tourism and Human Rights

Tourism and Human Rights

Higgins-Desbiolles, F., & Whyte, K. P. (2015). Tourism and human rights. The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Sustainability. Oxon: Routledge, 105-116.

Sustainability has become a key concern since its articulation in the Brundtland Report of 1987. Originally, sustainability has a strong environmental focus, particularly from the 1993 Rio Earth Summit on Environment and Development. More recently, social concerns have come to the fore with new campaigns for corporate social responsibility and triple bottom-line reporting (examining the economic, environmental and social impacts of business). However, the social concerns in tourism are limited. Sustainability discourse has not offered a more macro perspective on the social impacts of tourism. Higgins-Desbiolles and Blanchard have argued that “we must consider tourism in the context of human right and social justice” (2010: 45). A human rights perspective gives us this more macro approach and is essential for thinking meaningfully about sustainability.