Discussing tourism during a crisis: resilient reactions and learning paths towards sustainable futures
This study’s purpose is to conceptualise the relationship between resilience and sustainability from a learning perspective. It asks how a community’s first reactions to a crisis can indicate the possible future development of a destination’s sustainability, and examines the resilience properties of elasticity, hysteresis and malleability in relation to single- and multiple-loop learning. Empirically, this study explores public discussions about tourism in northern Norway immediately before, and during the first months of, the COVID-19 crisis. Such discussions are investigated through a qualitative content analysis of articles from the regional newspaper. The findings identify a variety of perspectives among the participants to the discussions reported in the newspaper, including the coexistence of different views on tourism and sustainability and on responses to a crisis. This study frames the discussions in terms of elastic, hysteretic and malleable reactions, and illustrates three learning paths towards alternative weak and strong sustainable futures in a conceptual model. The originality of this study concerns a conceptualisation of the resilience – sustainability relationship as a set of learning paths that emphasises the dynamic and non-deterministic aspects of tourism development, aiming to evoke a sense of both responsibility and empowerment.