Sustainability (2017-06-01)

Tourism Pedagogy and Visitor Responsibilities in Destinations of Local-Global Significance: Climate Change and Social-Political Action

  • Tazim Jamal,
  • Brian Smith

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 6
p. 1082


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This paper examines the issue of climate change pedagogy and social action in tourism, with particular interest in globally-significant destinations under threat from climate change. Little is understood of the role and responsibility of visitors as key stakeholders in climate change-related action or the potential of such sites to foster environmental learning, as well as social and political action on climate change. Drawing on insights from Aldo Leopold and John Dewey, it is argued here that destinations that are valued intrinsically for their ecological and cultural importance are (or ought to be) sites of enjoyment and pedagogy, facilitating experiential learning, care, responsibility and civic action towards their conservation. An exploratory case study of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef offers corroborative insights for such a “reef ethic” as described in this paper, related to visitor experience, learning and action in this World Heritage Area. The results of this paper support the need for a stronger pedagogic role to be adopted by tourism experience providers and site managers to facilitate climate change literacy and responsible action (hence facilitating global environmental citizenship). Their responsibility and that of reef visitors is discussed further.