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Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry Report (Assessment)


Neo-colonialism refers to contemporary manifestations of the older colonial system which saw powerful nation states in control of the affairs of less powerful, less technologically and economically advanced nations in order to exploit the resources of the less powerful nation and improve the position of the colonial power. Under neo-colonialism, former colonial powers use international laws, property rights and economic supremacy to retain economic and political influence over former dependent territories. This involves a reliance upon Western manufactured goods and services which thwarts indigenous development efforts, a deteriorisation of the terms trade for new independent countries, and a continuation of cultural Westernisation guaranteeing markets for the West elsewhere in the world.

The power relationship between coloniser and colonised involved the assumption of cultural and moral superiority by the colonising power. The colonised people are generally viewed as ‘other’ by the coloniser and therefore superior. Ponting, McDonald and Wearing (2005) suggest that contemporary surfing tourism represents a form of neo-colonialism. Do you agree? If so, what are the neo colonial features of the relationship? If not, why not?

When examining the case of the Mentawai archipelago and the development of the local tourism industry through the promotion of the area as a surfing venue, it can be seen that instead of developing its own tourism industry by encouraging local entrepreneurship the local government in effect gave away the capacity for local resorts to flourish in order to encourage foreign investment.

This was done through legislation aimed at encouraging foreign investment through the privatization of capacity control which would see charter numbers limited, up market resorts favored with capacity linked exclusion zones, and small-scale local operations deemed unlawful (Ponting, McDonald, And Wearing 2005, p. 12).

This limited capacity for local entry is similar to the case of the core and periphery system which is a predominant feature of neo-colonialism wherein the ability of former colonies to compete in the international market is hampered through their relegation into being resource suppliers instead of being end product manufacturers like their colonial power counterparts.

While neo-colonialism does this through international laws, property rights and economic supremacy, in the case of the Mentawi archipelago this accomplished through local laws and legislation which was ironically pushed forth by the local government itself.

Furthermore, the “dependence factor” seen in the case of neo-colonialism where former colonies are dependent on the manufactured goods of the colonial powers can similarly be seen wherein the local tourism industry is dependent on foreign companies and their chartered boat fleets, tour packages, and international promotional activities to bring tourists to the island albeit to foreign controlled resorts and establishments.

How does the term ‘tragedy of the commons’ relate to surfing tourism?

The term ‘tragedy of the commons’ applies to the Mentawai surfing industry through the exclusion of locals from being able to fully reap the benefits of their natural resources. Similar to what is seen in the case of the core and periphery system of neo-colonialism, Mentawi becomes a resource supplier instead of being an end product maker. The product in this particular instance takes the form of a locally owned tourism industry.

Despite the richness and beauty of the local landscape and its ideal conditions for surfing, locals find it difficult if not impossible to sufficiently penetrate the local tourism industry due to the predominance of foreign owned resorts and establishments as well as local legislation which prevents small operations from flourishing.

List what you consider to be the two most important impacts of surfing tourism upon destination regions and communities and briefly discuss potential methods or strategies for avoiding or ameliorating these impacts.

  1. Promotion of the local destination to international consumers resulting in an influx of foreign income through the purchase of local products and the hiring of local workers
  2. Development of numerous resorts resulting in more job opportunities for local construction firms and construction workers

Solution:

The main problem with the two factors that were listed is that while they do benefit locals they benefit the foreign owners of the resorts even more since a majority of the foreign income that comes from tourists goes directly to the resort owners. To prevent such an issue in the case of the Mentawai archipelago, limitations on foreign ownership should be implemented.

This can be seen in the case of the Philippines wherein they adopted a 60/40 ownership scheme for joint ventures wherein the largest percentage of ownership would go to a local. This ensures that more foreign capital can flow into the local economy which would greatly benefit the Mentawai archipelago resulting in a better economic situation for everyone concerned instead of to just the foreign owners as seen in the current case.

Reference List

Ponting, J., McDonald, M. and Wearing, S. 2005, ‘Deconstructing Wonderland: Surfing Tourism in Indonesia’, Society and Leisure, vol. 28. No. 1, pp. 141 – 162.

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IvyPanda. (2020, February 13). Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourism-and-sustainability/

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"Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry." IvyPanda, 13 Feb. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/tourism-and-sustainability/.

1. IvyPanda. "Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry." February 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourism-and-sustainability/.


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IvyPanda. "Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry." February 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourism-and-sustainability/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry." February 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourism-and-sustainability/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Tourism: the Mentawai Archipelago Surfing Industry'. 13 February.

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