Urban Ecotourism - Forming a niche to alter the macro tourism regime

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How do we initiate niche-to-regime ecotourism in high-consumption industrialized countries with urban, agro-industrial predominance in their geography? Most often, we have witnessed ecotourism niches in pristine nature areas in the Global South, and no success in attempts to establish a macro regime in sustainable tourism or ecotourism in the Global North (with few prominent exemptions). Many policy and planning efforts, grant schemes and market deliberations have failed to inaugurate a niche, so what other options are there? We have looked for options in deliberate efforts to bypass systemic path dependency, and in action research and transition theory we found a way: by triggering a market-engaging constellation of change agents and researchers in order to identify and promote a niche formation arena in ecotourism, or rather urban ecotourism. This is a rather new type of niche that, if successful, in theory would trigger and even adjust the tourism macro regime in the above-mentioned types of countries. We briefly present a literature review of urban ecotourism, introduce a transition theory approach to niche formation and regime altering, and then discuss our methodological participatory design and action research from a R&D project on transforming tourism in Denmark. We discuss the specific results – the formation of new urban green tours and entrepreneurial actor positions for ecotourism – and the wider implications in a strategic generic model for niche formation in urban tourism.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication statusSubmitted - 2 Feb 2021

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