9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Discussing the Social Pillar of Sustainability Building I, Auditório J.J. Laginha

Handling Challenges of Scale in Eco-Tourism

This paper examines scale-related challenges involved in processes intended to establish and improve international standards of ecologically sound products and processes. This paper poses the following question: What scale-related challenges are imbedded in the social dimension of transnational eco-standard setting? How are the problems, and the solutions, framed by the actors involved in the standard setting? Empirically, the paper is based on extended case-study work of eco-tourism, in particular minutes from meetings and interviews with actors involved in the development of the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council (STSC), through which a broad range of eco-tourism stakeholders try to integrate a large number of eco-tourism labels into one system of accreditation. The space-related challenges emphasised among eco-tourism stakeholders are both procedural/organisational and substantive, although this distinction is far from clear cut. Among the procedural/organisational challenges, differences in scale of organisations & control of the scheme are frequently mentioned, where the interests of large organisations as well as foreign organisations are said to be prioritised unfairly. Still, many actors, for instance in The International Ecotourism Society, perceive this organisational issue as less critical than the scale-related challenge of entrepreneurship & employment. The paper draws conclusions as to how the relationship between local uniqueness vs. regulatory uniformity may be handled, both through locally adapted standards, locally unadapted standards.