Tourism and islandscapes: Cultural realignment, social-ecological resilience and change

Joseph M. Cheer, Stroma Cole, Keir J. Reeves, Kumi Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


If, as according to Robin (2015: online), "islands are idealised ecological worlds, the Edens of a fallen planet'", the rationale underpinning tourism expansion should acknowledge MacLeod's (2013) notion of "cultural realignment" that calls for optimal and resilient encounters. This introductory article to the subsequent theme section of the journal on sustainable tourism acts as a bridge toward the development of emergent themes that describe how island peoples adapt and respond in localised cultural islandscapes as a consequence of tourism expansion. The links between cultural alignment and social-ecological resilience are clear and the principal and overarching question posed in this introductory article is: To what extent are islandscapes resilient to rapidly changing utilities, significances and ways of life wrought by tourism expansion? The vulnerabilityresilience duality remains firmly entrenched in the discourse on islands where tourism has become prominent, and although tourism provides some resiliency, overall, islandscapes remain subject to externally driven fast and slow change that exercises an overwhelming influence. Islander agency will likely remain subject to the fluctuations in the demands of the tourism supply chain. Therefore, tourism as a standalone focus of islands is a high-risk proposition, especially in contexts where externally driven change is likely to intensify.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalShima: the international journal of research into island cultures
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Cultural realignment
  • Fast change
  • Slow change
  • Social-ecological resilience

Cite this