Tourism and the precautionary principle : a survey of academic and government stakeholders
Ebert, Kevin K.
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The purpose of this exploratory investigation was to provide a more precise understanding and basis from which to assess the potential role of the precautionary principle in tourism. The precautionary principle, analogous to the ideal of sustainable development, is a future-focused planning and regulatory mechanism that emphasizes pro-action and recognizes the limitations of contemporary scientific methods. A total of 100 respondents (80 tourism academics, 20 regional government tourism officials) from Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand completed the webbased survey between May and June 2003. Respondents reported their understanding of the precautionary principle, rated stakeholder involvement and education strategies, assessed potential barriers in implementation, and appraised steps of a proposed fi-amework for implementation. Due to low sub sample numbers, measures of central tendency were primarily used to compare groups, while inferential statistics were applied when warranted. Results indicated that most respondents (79%) felt the principle could be a guiding principle for tourism, while local and regional government entities were reported to have the most power in the implementation process. Findings suggested close links between the precautionary principle and sustainability, as concern for future generations was the most critical element of the principle for tourism. Overall, tourism academics were more supportive of the precautionary principle in tourism than were regional government tourism officials. Only minor variation was found in responses among regional groups across all variables. This study established basic ground for understanding the precautionary principle in tourism and has been effective in formulating more precise questions for future research.