Slow travel: Issues for tourism and climate change

  • Dickinson J
  • Lumsdon L
  • Robbins D
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This paper analyses the eclectic evolution of slow travel, examines key features and interpretations, and develops a slow travel framework as an alternative way of concep-tualising holidays in the future. The paper focuses on slow travel's potential to respond to the challenges of climatic change: travel currently accounts for 50–97.5% of the overall emissions impact of most tourism trips. In-depth interviews with self-identified slow travellers illustrate and underpin the concept and note that slow travellers form a continuum from " soft " to " hard " slow travellers. The paper explores time as a social institution, timeless time and fragmented time, travel as an integral part of the tourist experience, and the links between tourism and the travellers' self-identity and lifestyles. Special attention is given to people and place engagement, to behavioural choice and decision-making psychology, and to the role and growth of web communities. Slow travel is shown to require both holiday type/style choices and travel mode choices. Walking, cycling, travel using bus, coach and train all facilitate slow travel, while air and car travel do not. Slow travel prompts a reassessment of how tourism interfaces with transport. Introduction The growth in travel for tourism has been considerable in the past five decades. However, in recent years, climatic change attributed to aviation has become an issue of concern. Additional demand has been generated by low cost carriers, and by keen pricing by other carriers to increase market share in both short and medium haul markets (Civil Aviation Authority, 2006; Dennis, 2007). At the same time, the dominance of the car in domestic and short haul international markets continues to contribute to resource depletion and climate change (Robbins & Dickinson, 2007). One reason for focusing on the travel element of tourism is its major contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is in the order of 50–97.5% of overall impact on any given tourism trip (see, e.g., Gössling, 2002); the variation depends on the distance travelled, the mode of transport, the length of stay and the energy intensity of accommodation and activities participated in at the destination. Given the predicted growth in aviation (Bows, Anderson, & Peeters, 2009) and the continued dominance of the private car, tourism's contribution to climate change is estimated to grow substantially by 2050 (Dubois & Ceron, 2006a; UNWTO-UNEP-WMO, 2008). This contradicts policy objectives of the European Union and respective constituent governments, seeking to reduce GHG emissions in the order of 60–80% by 2050 from a 1990 baseline figure (Bows et al., 2009).

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate change
  • Discourse
  • Identity
  • Slow travel

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  • Janet E. Dickinson

  • Les M. Lumsdon

  • Derek Robbins

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