Understanding local power and interactional processes in sustainable tourism: Exploring village-tour operator relations on the Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea

Multilingual Matters
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Journal Article
Journal of Sustainable Tourism (Building a Decommodified Research Paradigm in Tourism: The Contribution of NGOs), 2010, 18 (1), pp. 61 - 76
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This paper explores the power relations in and between local villages and outside tourism operators on the Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The analysis of power focuses on the contingencies of agency in the interactional order allowing greater participatory approaches to sustainable tourism. The notion of power applied in this case study is derived from Michel Foucaultâs concept of power relations. It is argued that local power and ensuing interactions are neither a zero sum gain or over-determined structurally, but a symbiotic process. By applying Foucaultâs concepts to the preparation of the Ecotrekking Strategy developed by the villages on the Kokoda Track, we illustrate how power is exercised through dominance, negotiation, rationalities and resistance, all of which are interwoven into day-to-day social interactions between tourism operators and local villages. The paper concludes with a discussion on the implications of this analysis for sustainable tourism development.
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