Understanding tourism resilience: adapting to social, political, and economic change

Joseph Martin Cheer

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The links between uncertainty and adaptive capacities suggests that developing adequate responses to the vicissitudes of global and local events is key to enabling rapid rebound and at the very least, efficient adaptation. When it comes to social, political, and economic change, these dimensions tend to unfold gradually making responses dependent on mutable circumstantial and contextual stimuli. This contrasts with fast change where scale, change, and response occur at different speeds. International tourism, which is often accompanied by the global branding of multinational companies, can be viewed as a symbolic coming of age for an emerging economy. In such contexts where tourism is a vital cog in the local economy, the overriding ability to adapt and deal effectively with change frames the nature and extent of resilience. A global scan of tourism in practice exemplifies that at a local level, tourism communities are increasingly subject to the repercussions of wider global developments, and that the course of building adaptive capacities, although reliant on local action to some degree, pivots on the extent of global change, as well as particular variations in regional and country contexts. That tourism drives social change is often made obvious where its manifestation and rapid growth becomes a prominent instigator of change, intertwining with the socio-economic fabric of communities and creating new norms. In examining tourism and resilience, with a focus on social, economic, and political change, the human-in-nature perspective and the ways in which this interaction plays out is emphasised. The tourism system is a complex adaptive system with each part either working to enhance or limit resilience building, thus necessitating a whole-of-system emphasis, rather than tinkering with its individual parts. Adapting to change is a continual, evolutionary process, responding to feedback loops and instituting resilience measures. Hopefully this is done in deliberate and organised ways, wherein policy makers, community, and industry are cohesive, rather than in ad hoc, unintended ways where the gulf between government, industry and community is wide.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTourism, Resilience and Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationAdapting to Social, Political and Economic Change
EditorsJoseph M. Cheer, Alan A Lew
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315464053
ISBN (Print)9781138206786
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • tourism
  • resilience
  • change

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