From the endless summer to the surf spring: technology and governance in developing world surf tourism

Mach, Leon
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University of Delaware
This work explores the potential for resource users to self-organize to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts historically associated with surf tourism in developing countries - or in other words, the potential for user inspired governance, rather than governments to foster sustainable outcomes in areas where surf tourism is the dominant (if not only) source of tourism. This study proposes a new framework to contextualize developing world surf tourism (DWST), which combines knowledge from socio-ecological systems (SESs) studies and the growing body of work dedicated to characterizing co-evolving technology, environment, and society (TES) interrelationships. This framework is applied to a case study of volunteer surf tourism (VST) in Lobitos, Peru. Data was collected utilizing participant observation and informal interview methodologies during two field visits, which occurred in 2010 and 2014. This data was analyzed using the Framework Assessment for Sustainable Surf Tourism (FASST) to assess the role VST plays in shaping the overall surf tourism governance structure in Lobitos and to examine the sustainability of the surf tourism development that results. The findings reinforce the need for more careful consideration of how technology influences surf tourism governance at different scales.