«Holistic refers to something that emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. It can be related with the more common used concept of interdisciplinary, that is, the claim that most social and economic phenomena can not be full understood or explained without undertaken an approach that goes far behind the aim of a single scientific discipline.
The first contributes to this concept were produced by Hunziker and Krapf, in 1942. They rejected looking to tourism just as an economic phenomenon. Instead, they approached it as a human and economic activity and a composite phenomenon (Williams, 2004).
Another pioneering contribution came from Leiper (1979). Later he was followed by Murphy (1985) and Lew (2001), among others. Leiper advocated a systems approach towards tourism. Only this way, he claimed, one could fully understand destinations, generating areas, transit zones, the environment and tourism flows.
Current research in tourism, mostly the case of tourism of experiences, has claimed the need of using holistic approaches. 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 geographical location.
By 1985, Murphy 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 the authorities` decisions, they must be demanded to take part on the formulation of the policies and on their application.
Sustainable tourism development only can be well 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.
A few authors have claimed that the concept of sustainable development is, itself, holistic and multi-sectorial. It can be looked as pointing to forms of tourism that are "green" or "alternative". However, the concept has been used more in theoretical than empirical terms due to the difficulty of its implementation.
Sustainable tourism development requires that researchers go on looking for, both, getting a broader understanding of tourism and making use of a variety of research tools, of quantitative and qualitative nature, that will allow to improve the rigor of the analysis.
Headwords: Community development; Tourism management; Tourism planning; Sustainable tourism
1979 The framework of tourism: towards a definition of tourism, tourist, and the tourism industry. Annals of Tourism Research 6(4): 390-407.
2001 Defining a geography of tourism. Tourism Geographies 3(1):105-114.
1985 Tourism. A community approach, vol. 4. London: Methuen Inc.
2004 Tourism: The nature and structure of tourism. London: Routledge.»
Paula Cristina Remoaldo
University of Minho, Portugal
José Cadima Ribeiro
University of Minho, Portugal