Re-imagining sustainable tourism futures with others : A critical introduction and exploration of sustainable tourism co-design as a multifaceted innovation endeavour for better worldmaking
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With less than a decade left to Transform Our World (United Nations, 2016), the world has yet to transition to sustainable development. A key challenge for research and practice is to facilitate collaboration beyond silos of public, private and civic organisations, groups and individuals. Design and co-design are possible ways to involve others in order to better speak to the wickedness of sustainable development transitions including the sustainable development goals. This is an article-based dissertation that seeks to critically introduce and explore how it may be possible to collaboratively design tourism (tourism co-design) to enable sustainable development transitions and to identify latent opportunities that may help to enhance the values of locals, tourists and nature. Tourism co-design is framed as a process of inquiry that can be informed by action research. In this pursuit, the dissertation brings together various philosophical and theoretical perspectives with lessons learned from co-designing tourism in Norway and Denmark to advance an abstract, yet highly concrete, understanding of collaboration for sustainable tourism development as sustainable tourism co-design. In designing tourism with, not for, others, the dissertation advances an understanding of sustainable tourism co-design as a multifaceted innovation endeavour for better worldmaking, whereby it simultaneously reveals and challenges some of the underlying assumptions on which extant approaches to sustainable tourism development often rest. By doing so, the dissertation addresses the widening gap between the principles and theory of sustainable development and actual change and operationalisation in tourism practice and research. Bridging theory and practice through co-design, the main contribution of this dissertation is enriched understandings of collaboration for sustainable tourism development. It is my hope that, by inviting readers into the reflexive realms of sustainable tourism co-design, it may be possible to re-imagine and restore a sense of ethical, emphatic and respectful awareness about our values in relation to others’ and nature’s values in the becoming of sustainable tourism futures.