chapter  1
23 Pages

Visual Perception and Touristed Landscapes

Recent research into tourism’s effects on island ecologies has led to some extremely worrying observations. For instance, Stefan Gössling’s empirical study on ‘human-environmental relations’ in Zanzibar-a Tanzanian archipelago located on the east African coast-supports suggestions that tourism is acting as ‘an agent of modernization, which decontextualizes and dissolves the relationships individuals have with society and nature, and increases the separation from structures that are the base of sustainable human-environmental relations’ (2002: 550). He notes that the ironic situation in which tourism increases environmental awareness while facilitating the ‘consumption and depletion of natural resources, both directly and indirectly, locally and globally’ (554) shows no sign of abating. One reason for this, Gössling suggests, is that tourism is a ‘self-reinforcing process’ (553) which not only generates income for local hosts through the implementation of unsustainable practices but also increases hosts’ desire to travel. At the same time, local communities that are increasingly orientated around tourism become divorced from traditional environmental ethics. In this light, he concludes bleakly that:

a cosmopolitan confi guration of the self through tourism might off-set the individual perception of being responsible for unsustainable environmental change. Sustainable tourism-the notion that its development can be managed in an environmentally neutral way-might thus be a contradiction in terms.