Publications

Ecotourism after nature : Anthropocene tourism as a new capitalist “fix”

Fletcher, Robert

Summary

How does ecotourism–conventionally characterized by its pursuit of a “natural” experience–confront assertions that “nature is over” attendant to growing promotion of the “Anthropocene”? One increasingly prominent strategy is to try to harness this “end of nature” itself as a novel tourism “product”. If the Anthropocene is better understood as the Capitalocene, as some contend, then this strategy can be viewed as a paradigmatic example of disaster capitalism in which crises precipitated by capitalist processes are themselves exploited as new forms of accumulation. In this way, engagement with the Anthropocene becomes the latest in a series of spatio-temporal “fixes” that the tourism industry can be seen to provide to the capitalist system in general. Here I explore this dynamic by examining several ways in which the prospect of the loss of “natural” resources are promoted as the basis of tourism experience: disaster tourism; extinction tourism; voluntourism; development tourism; and, increasingly, self-consciously Anthropocene tourism as well. Via such strategies, Anthropocene tourism exemplifies capitalism’s astonishing capacity for self-renewal through creative destruction, sustaining itself in a “post-nature” world by continuing to market social and environmental awareness and action even while shifting from pursuit of nonhuman “nature” previously grounding these aims.