«Holistic refers to something that emphasizes the whole and the interdependence of its parts. It can be related with the more common used concept of interdisciplinary: the claim that most social and economic phenomena can not be fully 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), namely. 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.
Going far, the call for developing an integrative approach able to deal with the economic, ecological and social systems has been made. In this context, the term panarchy has been used to identify a specific form of governance that would encompass all (partial) others.
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 destinations competitiveness, as it arises from many factors, which include 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. According to it, 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.
Inquiring on the future, one can agree with Yeoman et al. (2012) that the future has already began, and that its primary drivers will be wealth, resources and technology. Being so, there is place for change on the type of products demanded and on the tourists` preferred destinations, together with the main emission markets.
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, which 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.
Yeoman, I., Rebecca, T., Mars, M. and Wouters, M.
2012 2050 - Tomorrows tourism. Bristol: Channel View Publications.»
Paula Cristina Remoaldo
University of Minho, Portugal
José Cadima Ribeiro
University of Minho, Portugal