«The word holistic refers to something that emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. It has different applications in several disciplines and it can be related with the more commonly used concept of interdisciplinary, that is, the claim that most social and economic phenomena, namely, can not be fully understood or explained without undertaking an approach that goes far behind the aim of a single scientific discipline.
In social sciences, geographers and regional scientists were the ones that have appealed more to the use of this approach . Lew (2001) and Hall and Page (2006) are among those that have reinforced the importance of developing holistic and applied approaches to the research conducted on the tourism field.
The case of the tourism industry is the one of an activity that, besides being an economic and social phenomenon, has a spatial expression, all this given to it a particular complexity, so, where interdisciplinary approaches have special reasons to be followed. Furthermore, having in mind the way the industry interacts with and appeals to the contribution of many other activities present in the territory, tourism planning and management should take into account all its impacts .
Current research in tourism, mostly in the case of the tourism of experiences, has claimed the need of following holistic approaches, since previous studies have privileged the sense of vision instead of all the five senses that would allow tourists to get an intensive global experience of the destination components. This relates also with tourism destination competitiveness, as it arises from many factors, which include, among others, natural environment, climate, man-made attractions, tourism infra-structures and supporting facilities and, of course, geographical location.
Previously, Murphy (1985) underlined the need of a more comprehensive and integrated approach to tourism planning at local level. This was highlighted taking into account the community approach, which relates with the idea that, if people have to live with an authority’s decisions, they must be called to take part in the formulation of the policies and on their application. That is, if the planning process includes the community the risk of failing to retain its sense of place is largely minimized (Murphy 1985). The residents are an integral part of the attractiveness of a tourism destination.
The holistic approach has particular pertinence when dealing with planning and the design of policies. Sustainable tourism development can only succeed if the destination is able to supply a tourist product that can be preserved and renewed in its singularity and if the interests of the different stakeholders are considered.
According to the World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. The WTO uses this concept since the 1990’s.
Other authors, like Butler (1999), have claimed that the concept of sustainable development is itself holistic and multi-sectorial. It points to forms of tourism that are "green" or "alternative" to the mass or more conventional ones. But the concept of sustainable tourism has been used more in theoretical than empirical terms due to the difficulty of its implementation.
Headwords: Community development; Tourism development; Tourism management; Tourism planning; Sustainable tourism.
1999 Sustainable tourism: a state-of-the-art review. Tourism Geographies 1(1):7-25.
2001 Defining a geography of tourism. Tourism Geographies 3(1):105-114.
1985 Tourism. A community approach, vol. 4.
: Metheun Inc. London
Hall, C.M. and S. Page
2006 The Geography of Tourism and Recreation: Environment, Place, and Space (3rd ed.).
: Routledge.» London
Paula Cristina Remoaldo
University of Minho, Portugal
José Cadima Ribeiro