3 rd Biennial Conference of the International Development Studies Network of
Aotearoa New Zealand
Massey University, 5th – 7th December 2002
TOURISM, CULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT: WHOSE
CULTURE? WHOSE DEVELOPMENT?
David Fisher, Lincoln University
Many Pacific Island nations see tourism as a means to improve the local economy. It
is argued that tourism provides income, employment, foreign exchange and a higher
international profile for small island states. In recent years, though, the tourism
market has been changing. Where a hotel on a sandy beach was once considered all
that was required, now tourists are demanding a greater cultural experience. A
growing area of interest for tourists is the heritage of the area they are visiting.
Tourists, however, see culture from their own cultural perspective. This can result in
gross misunderstanding between the local community and the tourists about an
attraction. The exemplar provided here is Levuka, the old capital of Fiji. Levuka is a
European town built in the 19th century. It is of interest to tourists because of the
architectural style of the town. However, the meaning of heritage among the local
people is different to that of the tourists and non-indigenous tourism promoters.
Indigenous Fijians see heritage as an embodiment of the land while the tourists tend to
see heritage in the built environment. This is resulting in conflict between outside
interests and local people over historic interpretation and local economic
Lecturer in Tourism
Social Sciences, Tourism and Recreation Group
Society, Environment and Design Division