Towards a less vulnerable and more sustainable development: heritage tourism in island economies
The relationship between economic specialization in tourism and growth has been extensively explored, both theoretically and empirically. Although results are ambiguous, a general conclusion of nonlinear effects may be drawn. The originality of our work is to suppose the existence of similar nonlinear relationships between specialization in tourism, vulnerability, and sustainability, and to empirically investigate them for island economies. More particularly, beyond certain tourism specialization thresholds, economic growth slows (as shown in the previous studies) while economic vulnerability increases and sustainability decreases (as found in our empirical work). Our analysis is founded on the hypothesis that these thresholds relate to strategic differences in the development of tourism according to the existence and method of mobilizing the heritage resources of insular economies. The level of differentiation of tourist servicesÑevaluated using an indicator of the change in prices charged for tourist services in presence of world heritage sites (UNESCOÕs list) should moderate the impacts of specializing in tourism on vulnerability and sustainability. We built and explored an original dataset for up to 18 island economies during the period 1990-2008, which are systematically compared with up to 108 non-island countries. By using panel regression analysis, we show that the most suitable strategies for a less vulnerable and a more sustainable development, which may be naturally combined based on each islandÕs specificities, would be: high specialization in heritage tourism, low specialization in luxury tourism, high specialization in mass tourism when there is no valuable heritage, and low specialization in mass tourism in presence of world heritage sites. Illustrative case studies are discussed following a proposed typology of island economies based on their specialization in tourism and the differentiation of the services offered to visitors.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2017|
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