Sustainable surf tourism in a climate of increasing regulation (2015)

The Mentawai Islands in Indonesia are a popular surfing destination. The researchers used interviews and participant observation to explore the politics of surf tourism recreational capacity management in the islands, and the implications for local residents' involvement in the surf tourism economy. The sustainability of the surf tourism sector in the Mentawais was assessed using the five inter-related principles of the Framework Analysis for Sustainable Surf Tourism (FASST), which are: 1) a distinct move away from economically neo-liberal approaches to development, 2) the need for formal, long-term, coordinated planning that recognizes limits to growth, 3) systematic attempts to foster cross-cultural understanding, 4) village-level surf-sport development, and, 5) contribution to poverty alleviation.

The author explains that, "while interconnected, principles one and five relate primarily to economic sustainability, principle two to social and environmental issues and principles three and four to socio-cultural concerns."

The assessment of surf tourism in the Mentawais revealed that while sustainability of the tourism system is being enhanced by the implementation of carrying capacity policies, the region would benefit from several additional measures to advance the principles of surf tourism: more effective enforcement of regulations and the development of a more stable investment climate; formalized strategic planning and implementation of carrying capacity regulation that incorporates both physical and social mechanisms and contributes to cross-cultural understanding; additional government and surf tourism industry support for village-level sport development; and, a further shift towards incentivizing land-based surf tourism supply options in the Mentawai Islands.


CITE: Ponting, J., & O’Brien, D. (2015). Regulating “Nirvana”: Sustainable surf tourism in a climate of increasing regulation. Sport Management Review, 18(1), 99-110.

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