Social tourism and its ethical foundations

Minnaert, Lynn and Maitland, Robert and Miller, Graham (2006) Social tourism and its ethical foundations. Tourism, Culture and Communication, 7 (12). pp. 7-17. ISSN 1098-304X


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Although social tourism has been seen in a number of countries as having potential to counter social exclusion, formulating a definition for the term is difficult. "Social tourism" is used to describe a variety of initiatives for a variety of different social groups. These range from holidays for children from low-income backgrounds, through improving accessibility in hotels, to offering ecological holidays. This article discusses the definitions of "social tourism," distinguishing host-related and visitor-related forms, and aims to clarify its potential value in combating social exclusion. It does so by examining the ethical values underlying the way social tourism is defined and suggesting a theoretical framework for the effects of social tourism. Some ethical views of society place an a priori moral duty on the stronger strata to support the weaker. Others do not judge the support of the weaker strata as an a priori dominant ethical principle, and judge the welfare of the state by the opportunity of all its strata. Ethical positions that see stronger strata as having a moral duty to support the weaker are more likely to be supportive toward both host-related and visitor-related social tourism. Those that do not will probably support host-related social tourism, but will support visitor-related social tourism, if publicly funded, only if it can demonstrate benefits for the whole of society. In Western liberal democracies where this is a prevailing view, visitor-related social tourism might justify public expenditure as a potential tool to combat social exclusion. It can be seen as a merit good if it improves excluded peoples' handicapping characteristics, through, for example, beneficial effects in health, self-esteem, and improvement of family relationships. However, there is little research to test its effectiveness in achieving these outcomes. Further research is required to evaluate whether social tourism can have a significant role in combating social exclusion, and thus justify support from public expenditure.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social tourism, social exclusion, ethics
Subjects: University of Westminster > Architecture and the Built Environment > Architecture and the Built Environment, School of (No longer in use)
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 22 May 2007
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2010 14:32

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