Tourism as a rural response to global restructuring

Mair, Heather Lynn
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University of Guelph

The thesis examines the relationship between rural community development strategies and tourism in Canada under changing socio-political conditions in the period between the years 1975 and 2000. Concentrated on two case studies, one on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick and the other in Paris, Ontario, the research considers what forces have led to tourism having been held up as a saviour in local economic development. In doing so, it aims to make links between this role and overarching changes within the global capitalist economy. To do this, a critical constructivist analysis of tourism policy as it has developed in these areas is undertaken. Trends are identified, critical periods are uncovered and these findings are related to broader considerations of capitalist relations, primarily through the insights provided by regulation theory. It is argued that as global capital cements its form through the withdrawal of the state and the extension of the consumption-oriented, consumer-based economy, tourism is naturalised as an appropriate policy response to rural development problems. The response of local governing structures to political and economic restructuring can be seen as a move to establish a new, post-Fordist regime of accumulation based upon the service industry and, in particular, tourism. This move is built upon the necessity of capitalizing on the appeal of rural tourism so as to accommodate capital's efforts to stretch into rural life in a new way to enhance profit-making opportunities. All of this suggests that the actions of the local state cannot be considered without a reflection upon the broader political economy as it influences factors for both the demand and supply of rural tourism. Moreover, the thesis aims to present tourism as a policy option that is not just a response to growing tourist demand but part of a more general response to the changing place of rural areas in the continental and increasingly global economy. Thus, an overarching approach situating the discussion of tourism within an understanding of the social construction of space and its role in the expansion of capitalist social relations is warranted.

Tourism, Canada, Rural, Economic development, Global restructuring