Justice and Ethics in Tourism

Volume 16, Issue 2  | 
Published 30/10/2019

by Tazim Jamal.  Routledge, 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14, UK, pp. 260, 2019.  (ISBN: 978-1-315-16294-2 (ebk))

 Review by Shehina Fazal

This book provides a comprehensive review of the ideas of justice and ethics and their application in the academic field of tourism. It makes an interesting read particularly, given a recent news item regarding the overcrowding which resulted in long delays in getting to the summit by climbers near Mt. Everest, in the Himalayas. The resulting tragedies of some climbers waiting for long periods in the freezing conditions reminds us not only of the care and responsibilities that we need to give to popular tourist sites, but to understand the implications of socially and environmentally just practices that protect not only the tourists, but the hosts as well.

The author, Tazim Jamal makes powerful arguments on conceptualising and implementation of justice and ethics in tourism. The book consists of seven chapters which are interspersed with interesting case studies from various scholars.

In the introduction, Jamal quickly demolishes the romanticism around tourism and states that “….it is a chimera, this thing called tourism. It can offer fun, joy, rich existential experiences, ways to contribute constructively to conservatism and to individuals as well as social well-being. Yet there are also possibilities to wreak thoughtless harm on the destination, the environment and those who inhabit them”.

Such statements dispel the myths of beneficial tourism and the book gets to grips with its title, where the author addresses the foremost issues of climate change, particularly the migration of people because of climate change, and refers to the 21st century era of the Anthropocene, a term used to refer to the period whereby our planet has been significantly affected by human activities that have impacted on the climate and the natural environment.

In the second chapter, the author embarks on the issues surrounding the complexities of the ideas of justice and ethics in tourism. As Jamal writes:

“Tourism is a powerful lens into understanding the practicality of what it means to live in a just and good society, to have a good life and engage in good actions as a tourist or a resident, and to be treated fairly both as an individual and as a group…..at home and in travel”.

The ideas surrounding justice in tourism are introduced to the reader and followed by issues concerning social justice and the organisations involved are discussed here. The stress in the second chapter is on the concepts of justice, ethics and to a certain extent morality and how these enable us to address the challenges when examining the broad issues of social justice and equity within tourism development and practice.

While the third chapter builds upon the frameworks laid out in the second chapter, with a focus on how diverse groups have ended up being marginalised, stigmatized as well as being exposed to exploitation and domination and, of course, colonialism. The proposal in the third chapter is that justice within the context of the impact of tourism should be a political instrument, where collective groups and the status of these groups should be somewhat privileged over the individual. The end-result would be of improving cross-cultural relations as well as equitable relationships between tourists and their hosts.

The concepts of responsibility, global citizenship and global justice are unpacked in Chapter 4. Jamal begins by addressing responsible tourism and getting tourists to connect the dots between flying to their destinations and making the case for the regulatory mechanisms that are global: like climate change, climate injustice as well as awareness of regional issues, for example the sites of conflicts in Palestine. Jamal goes on to explain:

One way is shifting one’s worldview from being a citizen within a country to envisioning home and the world holistically, living and acting like the world is “home” and being concerned about moral, political and cultural aspects of being a global citizen. Some call this being a cosmopolitan. Traveling (e.g., as cultural tourists) is perceived to broaden and enrichen such cosmopolitanism.

Issues of sustainability, conservation and culturally sensitive tourism are addressed in Chapter 5.Taking a pluralistic approach towards addressing these issues based within the context of ecology, as well as social and cultural structures that lead to what Jamal calls “pluralistic justice” . One of the case studies in this chapter provides an interesting fact from the climate change study by Noel Healy and Tony Weis who state from Al Gore’s work in 2015 that “the wealthiest 10% of humanity produces roughly half of all Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, while the poorest half of humanity produces a mere 10% of all GHG emissions”.

Issues of democracy and governance are addressed in Chapter 6. The principle of justice is discussed in the context of local-global issues of including and giving a voice to the local population. These voices should be given prominence in policy and planning  that impact upon the people and the environment and not restricted to issues related to tourism. Such democratic participation is also discussed among the case studies in this chapter which provide real examples as to how these improvements are implemented in some locations.

Overall, the book is interspersed with case studies and provides interesting discussions about the idea of justice and ethics in tourism. Although the book is primarily a text book for students of tourism and hospitality, it is fairly accessible and the case studies provide a wide variety of practices in social justice and ethics in tourism not only in the developing world, but also in the developed world. In these times of rapid climate change and the subsequent impact of this on the population and particularly in lifestyle choices, the book is a nudge to future generations towards ethically and socially just approaches for protecting our planet so that tourism can be enjoyed by future generations.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 November 2019 17:25

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