…We cannot work, or eat, or drink; we cannot buy or sell or own anything; we cannot go to a ball game or watch TV without feeling the effects of government… Government gives us railways, roads, and airlines, sets the conditions that affect farms and industries, manages or mismanages the life and growth of cities…
This is how Forsey (1980) described the importance of understanding the role of government in our everyday lives, but “government” is not a monolithic entity. It is ruled by elected officials and civil servants who are pressured by outside interests. These actors each have their unique values and ideologies which they will try to advance in a struggle for power and resource allocation. This is what we usually understand as “politics”, the determination of who gets what, where, how and why. The party in power will make these value choices, whether implicitly or explicitly, and set policies that order the priorities and determine commitment of resources to ultimately influence the demand for and supply of tourism directly as well as indirectly.
The fascination with the decision-making process that can advance but also hinder the development of the tourism phenomenon started with my PhD and has driven my research directly and indirectly ever since. My thesis examined government intervention in tourism and studied a range of approaches from liberalism to interventionism to government control. I looked at how governments justify intervening in the economic, environmental and socio-cultural domains, the objectives that they pursue and the main regulatory and legislative actions taken (Joppe, 1983).
I was able to highlight these political processes by using France as the example. Not only is that country the world’s foremost tourism destination, it also has almost every conceivable type of tourism there is from beach to alpine, urban, rural, cultural, sport, theme park, eco/nature-based, thermal spas, and many other declinations of the phenomenon. Furthermore, it has had periods that focused specifically on each of the three domains that we associate with sustainability. Under these three sub-headings, I will spell out how politics played out in terms of tourism development in France and highlight some of my research in the areas as well.
Economic interventions and justifications
After World War II, the need to rebuild and attract foreign exchange dominated much of the activities over the next 25 years. To accelerate the reconstruction of the country, all forms of transportation – air, rail and sea – were nationalized and tourism was placed within the powerful Ministry of Public Works and Transportation. Significant financial aid was provided to restore, upgrade and build hotel rooms, especially in the upper star ratings, and to modernize resort towns to attract international visitors. By the early 1960s this was seen as insufficient and the era of major land use planning for tourism began with the expropriation of the coastal regions Languedoc-Roussillon where seven resort towns were planned and built to divert the tourist flows into Spain. This was followed by the ambitious “Snow Plan” that saw the expansion of the number of ski resorts to 40, largely aimed at a high spending luxury market, without regard for environmental considerations. The partial rezoning of one of the national parks for ski resort development and the number of deadly avalanches linked to construction in avalanche prone areas resulted in a backlash and a halt of these mega-projects.
My research built on these insights by exploring government controls and support for tourism (e.g., Joppe, 1989), looking at international policy and how it shapes the business environment that has developed to respond to the growth in tourism demand (e.g., Joppe, 2016), the importance of innovation in enhancing the economic returns on investment and its impact on productivity (e.g., Brooker & Joppe, 2014; Brooker et al., 2013; Joppe, Brooker, & Thomas, 2014; Joppe & Li, 2016).
Environmental interventions and justifications
The backlash that resulted from the disempowerment of the local population, the disregard for the environment and the almost manic built-up of integrated resort towns and cities forced a change in policy. New directives limited the geographic spread of secondary residences beyond the boundaries of existing town sites, prohibited all construction above 1600 metres, imposed a 50% quota on all new built accommodation to be low to mid-range, protected the seashore and access to it as well as public access to mountain paths. Although the first national parks were established in 1963, the first regional natural park was not set up until 1968. However, far more numerous these parks saw a significant expansion in the 1970s and 80s. Today, almost 30% of French lands and 22% of French waters are covered by some level of protection.
My contributions in this area concern themselves mainly with the provision of green and alternative tourism offerings in large urban environments (e.g., Joppe & Dodds, 2000; Dodds & Joppe, 2003) as well as the use and effectiveness of certification and corporate social responsibility programs (e.g., Dodds & Joppe, 2009a & b).
Socio-cultural interventions and justifications
The rapid rise in employment and economic well-being had given rise to the French welfare state, culminating in 1974 with the creation of a Ministry of Quality of Life. Part of the focus became greater access to leisure and vacation time as well as recreational opportunities. At the same time that the focus of support shifted to more moderate forms of accommodation, the government also started to invest massively in social tourism, a form of tourism that is aimed at ensuring that vulnerable and disadvantaged populations as well as youth and families are able to access the benefits of a break away from home. This is accomplished through holiday voucher schemes, steep discounts on public transportation and subsidies for the construction of modest holiday resorts. These actions are taken primarily because of the social and well-being benefits a holiday can deliver.
My research contributions to these efforts were largely undertaken through industry and governmental positions. However, more recently my research also addressed the need to broaden consideration of how planners reach out and include fringe stakeholders such as immigrants in the planning of resources and opportunities that meet their needs (e.g., Khazaei, Elliot, & Joppe, 2015; Khazaei, Joppe, & Elliot, 2019). This research built on early work about community-based approaches (e.g., Joppe, 1996a) and their critique (e.g., Joppe, 1996b). However, government action in this domain also includes employment opportunities which includes labour legislation and the requisite skills through training and education.
Here, my largest contribution has been in the area of skills development (e.g., Joppe, 2012), the impact of labour management on productivity (e.g., Li, Joppe, & Meis, 2017), and the challenges faced by migrant workers in coping with labour shortages (e.g., Joppe, 2011).
As you will have noted from the above, my contributions to knowledge have been as eclectic as my work experiences. Very much an applied researcher, my research has been driven by the needs of the sector and its various stakeholders, meaning that my contributions are always informed by lived experiences. Since policy reflects decisions related to goal-determination and the selection of methods to achieve the goal, the list of options to ensure a regenerative form of tourism is endless. The complexity of the tourism system is such that policies that only aim at a specific objective without considering the broader context can do more harm than good by inadvertently impacting aspects of tourism that were not intended or considered. I’ve talked about the need for policy relevant research in Joppe (2018), where I also provide an example of just such a policy based on good intentions but with severe consequences for a group of tourism providers.
Much of my work has been collaborative and so these contributions to tourism knowledge are not mine alone. Even more important have been the many people from all walks of life willing to engage in discussions and offering critiques that have helped to shape the insights represented by these contributions. I am grateful to them all.
Written by Marion Joppe, University of Guelph, Canada
Read Marion’s letter to future generations of tourism researchers
Brooker, E. & Joppe, M. (2014). Developing a tourism innovation typology: Leveraging liminal insights, Journal of Travel Research, 53 (4), 500-508.
Brooker, E., Joppe, M., Davidson, M. C. G., & Marles, K. (2013). Understanding business innovation in the Australian outdoor hospitality park industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 24 (5), 682-700
Dodds, R. & Joppe, M. (2003). “The application of ecotourism to urban environments”. Tourism, 51(2), 157-164.
Dodds, R. & Joppe, M. (2009a). Have certification programs allowed SMEs in LDCs access to markets? Tourisme & Territoires/Territories & Tourism, 1/2, 237-261.
Dodds, R. & Joppe, M. (2009b). The demand for, and participation in corporate social responsibility and sustainable tourism: Implications for the Caribbean. ARA (Caribbean) Journal of Tourism Research, 2(1). 1-24.
Forsey, E. (1980). How Canadians govern themselves. Goodreads.
Khazaei, A., Elliot, S. & Joppe, M. (2015). An application of stakeholder theory to advance community participation in tourism planning: The case for engaging immigrants as fringe stakeholders, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 23(07), 1049–1062.
Khazaei, A., Joppe, M., & Elliot, S. (2019). Mapping a Diverse Community’s Engagement in Parks Planning. Leisure Sciences, 40 (1-2), 73-89.
Joppe, M. (1983) State intervention in the domain of tourism. PhD Dissertation, Université d’Aix‑Marseille III, Aix‑en‑Provence, France
Joppe, M. (1989). “Government controls on and support for tourism”, in S. Witt & L. Moutinho (Eds.). Tourism Marketing and Management Handbook 1st & 2nd Edition, London: Prentice Hall. 67‑76.
Joppe, M. (1996a). Everything must be connected to everything else: an ecosystem approach to tourism development in Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada. In Practicing responsible tourism: international case studies in tourism planning, policy, and development, John Wiley & Sons 313-329.
Joppe, M. (1996b). Sustainable community tourism development revisited. Tourism Management, 17 (7), 475‑479.
Joppe, M. (2011). Migrant workers: challenges and opportunities in addressing tourism labour shortages. Tourism Management, 33(3), 662-671.
Joppe, M. (2012). “Policy approaches to skills development in tourism” in OECD. Tourism Trends and Policies 2012. Paris: OECD Publishing, pp. 87-107.
Joppe, M. (2016). “17. International tourism policy.” In H. Siller, & A. Zehrer (Eds.).
Entrepreneurship und Tourismus: Unternehmerisches Denken und Erfolgskonzepte aus der Praxis, 2nd edition, Vienna: Linde Verlag GmbH, 171-184.
Joppe, M. (2018). Tourism policy and governance: Quo vadis?. Tourism management perspectives, 25, 201-204.
Joppe, M., Brooker, E., & Thomas, K. (2014). Drivers of innovation in rural tourism: The role of good governance and engaged entrepreneurs, Journal of Rural and Community Development, 9 (3), 17.
Joppe, M., & Dodds, R. (2000, September). Urban green tourism: Applying ecotourism principles to the city. In Proceedings of the TTRA-Canada Conference.
Joppe, M. & Li, X.P. (2016). Productivity measurement in tourism: The need for better tools, Journal of Travel Research, 55(2), 139-149.
Li, X. P., Joppe, M., & Meis, S. M. (2017). Human resource management impacts on labour productivity in tourism. Tourism Economics, 23(5), 1028-1041.