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Title: Developing sustainable tourism through ecomuseology
Authors: Bowers, David Jared.
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Sustainability is a concept that continues to evolve and perplex in tourism, one of the world’s largest industries. Effective new theories and practices are constantly explored to incorporate the three pillars of sustainability (economic, socio-cultural and environmental) into tourism frameworks. Although marginally successful, sustainable tourism development remains a much criticised concept due to its lack of consistent implementation and conceptual and practical difficulties. In comparison, due to their focus on participation processes, integration of resources and response to specific needs and contexts, ecomuseological principles can be very useful for the development of community-based sustainable tourism products. These principles can be recognized within the philosophy and practices that tend to characterise individual ecomuseums and can be viewed as the key values of the ecomuseum ideal. This research project examines the potential of using the principles of ecomuseology to support sustainable tourism development. In particular, the research adopted a mixed-methods approach which analysed the potential of using these principles for supporting sustainable tourism development in the Rupununi, an isolated and heritage-rich region in central Guyana. The data collection process involved a mixture of literature reviews, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with a variety of local, national and international stakeholders. The primary goal in data collection was to construct a profile of the Rupununi tourism structure to identify and evaluate areas in which ecomuseological principles would be best suited to provide support. The findings from this research suggest that the principles of ecomuseology possess considerable potential to support sustainable tourism development in the Rupununi and potentially other destinations internationally. Indeed, results demonstrated that several of these principles were already being implemented by stakeholders in the region, although the term ‘ecomuseum’ is not being used anywhere by stakeholders. However, many principles are decidedly underused while the Rupununi is currently experiencing a significant shift in its relationship with the ‘outside’ world where societal changes are already affecting local economic development, heritage resources and host communities. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that ecomuseology presents a flexible framework that can be used to address these changes and dually support heritage management and iii economic development in the region. However, adopting the ecomuseum name is not recommended as a way forward for Rupununi stakeholders to improve sustainability. Instead, incorporating particular ecomuseological principles including a holistic approach to interpretation and information sharing, placing equal attention on cultural and natural resources and monitoring the changes to the region over time can support the three pillars of sustainability in the region. Lastly, this research demonstrated that these principles can be applicable to sustainable tourism development in many developing world contexts. However, the researcher argues that the theoretical framework for ecomuseums needs to be re-considered before it can be fully adopted in the lesser developed countries. This dissertation concludes by addressing this and other areas in need of further research while outlining the future of Rupununi tourism.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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