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Keynote prof. Edward Huijbens at the Nordic Symposium of Tourism and Hospitality Research

Published on
October 6, 2021

The paper 'Future Perfect? Earthly tourism attachments' from Edward Huijbens will query future tourism from the perspective of developing earthly attachments in response to rampant climate change. The paper will therefore ask; How do tourism futures that make for earthly attachments look and feel like?

At our current climatic juncture, the way in which the future is depicted informs largely our actions today. This future presence of tourism will be interrogated in terms of the aspirations assigned to tourism in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Current industry practises are steeped in the ‘growth paradigm’, a direct descendent of modernity’s ‘myth of progress’ permeating Western socio-economic practices, which are being imitated globally with growing world affluence. At the same time a role is envisioned for tourism in each and every one of the UN SDGs.

By critically examining how tourism features in the SDGs using examples from the Nordic and Arctic realms, the paper will set the scene for devolving notions of progress. These examples are drawn from tourism practices that afford ‘slowing’ down, more in-depth engagement with nature and people and a connection with life and land. With these the paper will create space for more-than-human aspirations to be accounted for when deciding on current steps towards the future. Moreover, the examples lay bare the inherent pluralism of what makes for progress. More is at stake than abstracted idealised notions of progress and getting attuned to each and every moment allows for the recognition of all that comes to play when we make for our ideas of the future.

Chief amongst those that emerge once we attune to the moment is the Earth itself. An Earth that becomes dynamically foregrounded in a future animated by climate change. From this earthly perspective the paper will question; what kind of tourism can live up to the aspirations of the SDGs? Through contributing Nordic and Arctic inspired future scenarios of ‘earthly tourism’ the paper aspires to shape mobile futures that are dynamic, pluralistic and fundamentally attached to the Earth.