Title: Shrouded in a fetishistic mist: commoditisation of sustainability in tourism

Authors: Carter A. Hunt; William H. Durham

Addresses: Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University, 801A Ford Building, University Park, PA 16803, Pennsylvania, USA ' Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall Bldg. 50, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Abstract: In this paper we first provide a theoretical argument of commodity fetishism of sustainability in tourism, with a focus on the emergence of certification for sustainability as a means of elucidating the means of production of tourism in destinations and distinguishing responsible forms of tourism from more exploitive counterparts. We then look specifically at Costa Rica and its widely-respected Certificate for Sustainable Tourism Programme (CST) for empirical evidence which speaks to the effectiveness of certification to demystify the production of sustainable tourism. Although limited, our data indicate a disconnect between tourists, who have a strong interest in travelling responsibly, and the programme's capacity to affect their consumption patterns. We conclude that certification programmes are yet to attain their objectives of directing tourist-consumers' attention to the on-the-ground social and environmental inputs and impacts of the tourism experience they enjoy.

Keywords: commoditisation; fetishisation; means of production; ecotourism; responsible tourism; sustainable tourism; sustainability; certification; Costa Rica; anthropology; commodity fetishism; sustainable development; tourist consumers; social impact; environmental impact; tourism experience.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2012.052541

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2012 Vol.2 No.4, pp.330 - 347

Received: 27 Jul 2012
Accepted: 11 Jan 2013

Published online: 07 Mar 2013 *

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