Tourist Industry: Sustainability and Local Versus Global Consumer Happiness

Published date01 September 2019
Date01 September 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Tourist Industry:
Sustainability and
Local Versus Global
Consumer Happiness
Paolo Corvo1
Sustainability and the pursuit of happiness are concepts frequently used in the
academic community as well as in the ordinary language. It is objectively difficult
to define these terms and their characteristics as well as everything that is
fashionable and trendy (Bauman, 1998, Globalization. The human consequences.
Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; 2005, Liquid life. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press).
Tourism applies both phenomena, as many accommodation facilities follow
sustainable practices or are inspired by them. Moreover, desire for well-being
represents one of the most important needs of the contemporary postmodern
society, and it affects many tourists’ choices. These features are not always well-
balanced in tour operators travel and holiday offers and in the protagonists’
experience. Moreover, the economic and global crisis, started in 2008, is causing
deep transformations in the consumers’ habits and is posing a further element of
complexity. With particular reference to Asian contexts of tourism, the article
particularly focuses on how the tourism industry has become interested in a
‘return to nature’, rural themes and related aspects of ‘slow tourism’.
Tourism, sustainability, social well-being, green economy, serene de-growth,
serene decreasing
This article deals with how sustainability, the pursuit of happiness and well-being
influence tourists’ choices and modify the ways of organisation of the
Indian Journal of Public
65(3) 661–678, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556119844579
1 University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo-Bra, Italy.
Corresponding author:
Paolo Corvo, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 9, Pollenzo – 12042 Bra
(Cn), Italy.
662 Indian Journal of Public Administration 65(3)
accommodation facilities. The article also focusses on the challenges of sustain-
able tourism (in connection with tour operators, institutions and local population)
in the Asian context of a fast-changing world. The larger context of the inquiry
here is how tourism exemplifies the opportunity of social well-being against the
backdrop of a global postmodern world and consumerist society afflicted by eco-
nomic crises and ethical dilemmas.
In particular, the article explores these related issues using the analytical
concepts of Bauman and Lepovetsky who represent two different stands on happi-
ness studies in the consumerist society which are also particularly relevant to the
tourism industry. People’s needs, desires, hopes and choices are usefully brought
into relief by Bauman’s theory of happiness and its four typologies of objective
happiness, happiness as subjective experience, happiness as balanced life and
happiness as the whole of life. The article also adapts the ideas of Serge Latouche
and his particular concept of ‘serene de-growth’. In order to clarify and substanti-
ate these statements, Latouche exposes the work programme, the concrete part of
the serene de-growth and the eight ‘Rs’, which are closely linked and represent
as many challenges to the lifestyles and social practices spread in the postmodern
world. The programme is very structured, and its realisation requires a sort of
‘local ecological democracy’, which is based on the recovery of the commons and
community space and the self-organisation of ‘bioregions’ or ‘ecoregions’, rural
or urban.
In such ways, the article also explores the relevance, in the Asian context, of
the growing interest of tourist industry in terms of environmental, ecological and
sustainability themes—particularly the attraction of nature, rural retreats and food
tourism. This is discussed in the wider context of how ‘slow tourism’ indicates
a possible retreat from consumerism which is simply aligned to ‘the desperate
pursuit of happiness’.
Sustainability in Tourism: Myth or Reality?
Sustainable tourism has been defined and codified ethically, and it has also been
subject to reappraisals, even very critical, if compared to some applications or at
least disputable. However, best practices have been experienced. As it has been
already stated (Corvo, 2011), there are—on one side—difficulties in realising a
tourism to be really sustainable and—on the other side—that people are puzzled
about reasons for choosing a sustainable holiday against the traditional one, in
particular about the risk of living some experiences in a selfish way, without
paying too much attention to the relations with people and cultures. Recently, the
debate has further increased, even with relation to the indicators that can fix in a
suitable and homogeneous way the concept and the standards of sustainable
tourism, and also within the broadest discussion over sustainable development
and urban areas, farming and territory.
There is another phenomenon of special relevance that joined on sustainabi-
lity: green economy, that is the spread of an economy able to use energies and raw
materials efficiently, to operate on ecosystems without damaging and to reduce
pollutant emissions. Green economy shares with sustainability the attention for

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