From Linear to Circular Tourism: Environmental Challenge for Tourism

From Linear to Circular Tourism: Environmental Challenge for Tourism

Sebastiano Patti (University of Catania, Italy) and Antonino Messina (Independent Researcher, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9562-5.ch007

Abstract

There are several relevant studies concerning tourism and environment, some of them studying ecotourism, recreation ecology, adventure tourism, and parks and wilderness management. Many publications on sustainable and responsible tourism described the relationship between environmental and economic growth and considered it important to have to consider them in an integrated approach. Usually, the research highlighted the negative impact of tourism on the environment. However, tourism and environment can be complementary to each other, and sustainable management of tourism may produce positive externalities on the environment. This chapter focuses on the environmental challenges of tourism throughout the passage from linear to circular tourism.
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Introduction

There are several relevant researches concerning tourism and environment, some of them studying ecotourism, recreation ecology, adventure tourism, parks and wilderness management. Many publications on sustainable and responsible tourism described the relationship between environment and economic growth and considered it so important to have to evaluate them in an integrated approach. Usually, the research highlighted the negative impact of tourism on the environment. However, tourism and environment can be complementary, and a sustainable management of tourism may produce positive externalities on the environment.

In addressing the issues of environmental economic policy, some specific concepts must be used. The first issue regards the long-run perspective, from which decision making process should be arranged. It is now evident that short-run economic decisions cannot face on the problem of natural resources scarcity. The second issue is strictly connected with the first one and concerns the long-run availability of natural resources (NR). For the economists, price is a “signal” of scarcity, when it goes up it means that commodities are becoming more scarce. Unfortunately, for many NR prices are not correct signals of scarcity. Prices come from the relationship among Countries and they do not take into account “external costs”. Prices as well as market mechanism are not reliable to achieve “Pareto optimum”. Strong externalities, non-competitive condition and public and common goods do not permit an “optimum” use of natural resources and environment. But the question is: the NR allocation is “optimum”? How is it possible to ameliorate it? If environment is polluted due to the production and consumption activities, the future well-being is the maximum possible? To answer these questions should be a priority for those who manage the environmental economic policy worldwide.

Policy makers rarely worry about whether the rate of utilization of natural resources is good for society and what consequences this will have for future generations. Rather, the interest of governments is to know the value of GDP and its growth rate. Although there is no production without the use of natural resources, not even in the tourist product, there is rarely a link between GDP growth and use of natural resources. There is evidence that GDP is misused. It is used as an indicator of the well-being of the community, but it only indicates the value of production. Since GDP indicates the value of the flow of final goods produced in the year, incorporating a Keynesian view of effective demand. Furthermore, the accounting rules need to be reviewed, with regard to natural and environmental resources. In a scenario in which all Countries pursue the objective of GDP growth, it can be expected that all their choices will lead to halting global growth. In fact, natural resources being a finite quantity, they will not be able to sustain the growth of the population, of the consumption per capita and of the production of waste per capita, indefinitely (Medows and Randers, 2006).

Another important issue is the technical progress. It is considered in a positive perspective, since it is able to solve humanity problems.

Nevertheless, technical progress evolution could be harmful if it follows wrong logics, based on wrong market signals, that is on prices and costs that do not represent the true costs of the society.

Energy production generates carbon dioxide (CO2 emissions). Carbon dioxide contributes to increasing the greenhouse effect, leading to overheating of the earth's temperature. These effects are present and future costs, which must be considered when making decisions through monetary valuation. It more evident that to calculate these costs, it is necessary, for instance, to know the quantity of CO2 emitted by a plant that produces energy and that is fueled by coal or diesel and has a certain incorporated technology. Technical progress, unfortunately, does not take into account the resilience of the Earth, nor human health.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Environmental Kuznets Curve: The environmental Kuznets curve suggests that economic development initially leads to a deterioration in the environment, but after a certain level of economic growth, a society begins to improve its relationship with the environment and levels of environmental degradation reduces.

Long-Run Perspective: The long run is a theoretical concept where all markets are in equilibrium and all prices and quantities have fully adjusted and are in equilibrium.

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