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Abstract: This article outlines a conceptual framework and research agenda for exploring the relationship between tourism and degrowth. Rapid and uneven expansion of tourism as a response to the 2008 economic crisis has proceeded in parallel with the rise of social discontent concerning so-called “overtourism.” Despite decades of concerted global effort to achieve sustainable development, meanwhile, socioecological conflicts and inequality have rarely reversed, but in fact increased in many places. Degrowth, understood as both social theory and social movement, has emerged within the context of this global crisis. Yet thus far the vibrant degrowth discussion has yet to engage systematically with the tourism industry in particular, while by the same token tourism research has largely neglected explicit discussion of degrowth. We bring the two discussions together here to interrogate their complementarity. Identifying a growth imperative in the basic structure of the capitalist economy, we contend that mounting critique of overtourism can be understood as a structural response to the ravages of capitalist development more broadly. Debate concerning overtourism thus offers a valuable opportunity to re-politicize discussion of tourism development generally. We contribute to this discussion by exploring of the potential for degrowth to facilitate a truly sustainable tourism.

Journal of Sustainable Tourism, October 2019