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Tourism, inclusive growth and decent work: a political economy critique

Bianchi, Raoul V and de Man, Frans (2020) Tourism, inclusive growth and decent work: a political economy critique. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29 (2-3). pp. 353-371. ISSN 0966-9582

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Abstract

This paper interrogates the ideas of ‘sustained’ and ‘inclusive’ growth that are intrinsic to one of three UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 8 - Decent Work and Growth) adopted by the UN World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) 2030 sustainable tourism agenda. It provides a Marxian-inspired political economy critique of the UNWTO’s embrace of SDG8 and highlights the blind spot within the UNWTO’s inclusive growth-led SDG agenda with respect to questions of equity and social justice. The paper contends that the UNWTO’s SDG-led agenda is contradicted by the logics of growth, competitiveness and profit-making that drive the continued expansion and development of tourism. Rather than addressing the structural injustices that entrench inequalities and reproduce exploitative labour practices, the notion of sustained and inclusive growth reinforces the primacy of capital and market notions of justice and continues to perpetuate a growth driven tourism development model. The paper contributes to a critical theorization of sustainable tourism and offers an informed critique of the current political agenda for sustainable tourism and its potential outcomes.

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