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The political economy of dive tourism: precarity at the periphery

Hampton, MP and Jeyacheya, Julia and Lee, Donna (2017) The political economy of dive tourism: precarity at the periphery. Tourism Geographies, 20 (1). pp. 107-126. ISSN 1461-6688

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Abstract

Using a critical political economy approach and the concept of labour precarity, the international dive tourism industry in Sabah, Malaysia and its workers’ vulnerabilities are interrogated. Fieldwork data highlights dive tourism’s socio-economic impacts and the precarity of labour within the international tourism sector and also critiques it as a development strategy for a peripheral region. The paper challenges the optimistic views of labour precarity found in the existing political economy literature. Rather than identifying labour empowerment, evidence demonstrates significant worker vulnerability, uncertainty, and contingency - especially among ethnic minorities - resulting from Malaysia’s state-led rentier economy.

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