Recension: Archipelago Tourism – Policies and Practices
Ole Rud Nielsen
Archipelago tourism. Policies and practices. Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino. Franham: Ashgate, cop. 2015. xxiii, 260 pages. ISBN 9781472424303 (hbk). ISBN 9781472424310 (ebk-PDF). ISBN 9781472424327 (ebk – ePUB). Serial: New Directions in Tourism Analysis.
Archipelago and tourism are old concepts, but the relation between them is more recent. However, it is surprising that a book on this theme from a general perspective and covering the whole world has not been published earlier.
But what is an archipelago and where are the conceptual borders to other concepts? In the editorial the editor discusses the concept of an archipelago, to suggest that it consists of at least two islands, but I think that he is missing a bicriterion on the relation between the sizes of the majority of islands in an archipelago. He vastly stretches the definition to accept four small islands around the Italian island of Sardinia. Nevertheless, I think that the relation is difficult, due to the sizes and to their localization around the big island Sardinia, far from each other.
The editor considers an archipelago as an assemblage; I understand the editor so that archipelagos are joined on to many qualities that are not the same for all islands in an archipelago. An archipelago may in this way be so heterogeneous in relation to distance to continents, to population, ecological circumstances, internal connections and connections to continents, that is difficult to compare it with other archipelagos. However, there are many problems mentioned in this book that are common to some archipelagos, but not to all.
The editor uses the concept multi island in the editorial; it is unclear to me, but I understand it as a heterogeneity of islands. However, it is a very broad term, that should have been more thoroughly explained.
It is interesting that there is a competition between many islands in some archipelagos; it is surprising that it is so difficult to find a consensus concerning a general, superior goal for each of these archipelagos that would be an advantage for the whole archipelago. This competition takes on many variations, and is suited to local conditions. E.g. between the two islands of Malta and Gozo that are different in size, so the competition too may be described as a center-periphery relation. On the Azorean Archipelago there too is a central steering that is giving the same type of relation. Outside this European context there are problems on the islands of Fiji. But is there any form of common reason to these bad relations? It is interesting that there are not such problems on the Faroe Islands in the Northern Atlantic Sea. Why not? Many archipelagos are remote, so it is difficult to explain the relations with that. Or is it the colder climate? When the heterogeneity is stressed in the book, this question could have been given a more central position as a way of giving the book a greater cohesion.
In the editorial the editor is interested in archipelagos as independent states or close to that. It is my impression from the book that it only has a marginal effect on archipelagos; economic reasons have a bigger impact. However, it is obvious from the book that historic structures also have a big effect on the archipelagos.
Close to these structures are the problem with unequal relations. E.g. the Maldives have one brand, so the single islands in this extended archipelago are drowning in the sea.
From a theoretical point of view a use of transition theory would have given a greater cohesion. It is concerning a shift from the level of the routinized everyday life to the level of a holiday, e.g. on an archipelago island. Which factors have an influence on the form of the holiday?
Furthermore, I would have appreciated a perspective on sustainability in the book.
The political analytics of the situation of the archipelagos around the world should also have been stronger with a greater emphasis on the last two points.
As a last point I only want to mention that the book has only one article on Scandinavia – an article on the Faroe Islands.