Paradox as a pervasive characteristic of sustainable tourism
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Introduction and review The chapters in this compilation reflect the pervasiveness of paradox within sustainable tourism discourses. In most cases, paradoxes superficially present as contradictions, engendering a mindset among many of non-resolvability or problem ‘wickedness’ (Buchanan 1992) that dissuades even the best efforts at resolution. Denial, evasion or maintenance of the status quo are often variably justified as acceptable and logical responses, as demonstrated by current discourses of opposition to calls for the reduction of carbon footprints (Gössling and Peters 2007). As Butler points out in Chapter 6, several paradoxes are embedded in the very DNA of sustainable tourism, including a malleability that renders the idea as either ingeniously adaptable (Hunter 1997) or diabolically schizophrenic (Hall 1998). This can be contextualised as a paradox, rather than a contradiction, when using a conceptual framework such as enlightened mass tourism (Weaver 2014) (also discussed by Weaver in Chapter 2) which facilitates the constructive amalgamation of apparently contradictory impulses. Constructive amalgamations are achievable through a process of resolutionbased dialectics that accommodates, for example, both the inertia of ‘sustainability’ and the dynamism of ‘development’. The paradox that tourism cannot be sustainable until it involves little or no travel, also mentioned by Butler, can thus be addressed by a compromise focus on ‘environmentally smart’ travel and the concurrent positioning of sustainability as a process of incremental improvement rather than an absolute goal. Whether such scale and pace of change is sufficient to redress the negative impacts of the associated carbon emissions is, however, unknowable. On the other hand, it is unlikely that society will accept the radical alternative of ending tourism altogether given the associated regional benefits as well as the promiscuous travel tendencies of contemporary society. The continued proclivity to travel for leisure purposes may therefore be an especially challenging paradox inviting particularly innovative trade-offs, or the ultimate contradiction at a global scale.
The Practice of Sustainable Tourism: Resolving the Paradox