Backpackers or Cruise Ships? Shaping the Tourism Policy Agenda for Small Island States and Coastal Communities
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Kent
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Tourism
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology
Summary of the impact
Dr Mark Hampton's research informs tourism policy for the world's 40 small island developing
states (SIDS) and poor coastal communities. He generates data that challenge conventional
wisdom about the value of large scale tourism for these fragile economies. His findings identify
niche tourism as a more sustainable basis for economic growth. The Commonwealth, World Bank
and individual governments, as well as numerous other NGOs and industry associations, are
amongst those who draw upon Hampton's research findings in order to help vulnerable states
formulate effective policies and develop appropriate tourism initiatives.
Dr Mark Hampton joined KBS in 2005 and his research challenges established policy and practice
on how to use tourism to alleviate poverty in poor island and coastal communities. Hampton's
approach is broadly multi-disciplinary but with most input from development geography and
political economy. His projects generally use qualitative methods during fieldwork, such as semi-structured, in-depth interviews with key informants, typically in conjunction with participant
observation and digital site mapping. The data is used directly by NGOs and policymakers to
promote the benefits of small scale tourism over cruise tourism and multi-national hotel chains.
Most of Hampton's work is externally funded, either by dedicated research funding agencies (such
as the British Academy) or by NGOs and national governments. As fieldwork is usually conducted
in partnership with policy and development organisations, Hampton's academic publications often
appear after the policy recommendations and associated practical interventions based on his
findings (3.1, 3.2, 3.3). Seven externally funded research projects (2006-2012) underpin this case
- Commonwealth Secretariat study (2012) on two issues facing SIDS: cruise ship tourism
and sustainable local supply chains (with research associate Dr Julia Jeyacheya and Prof.
Andrew Fearne — both also at Kent). This study examined international best practice from
the academic, government and industry literature and incorporated a fundamental critique
of the value of cruise tourism to small island economies, as well as practical
recommendations on using local producers to supply tourist hotels.
- World Bank study (2012) 'How can tourism promote inclusive growth in small island states?'
with Prof. Donna Lee (Birmingham University), Prof. John Fletcher (Bournemouth
University), Prof. Adam Blake (Bournemouth University) and Dr Julia Jeyacheya (KBS).
This project involved fieldwork in the Seychelles in spring 2012 (including 24 interviews with
key stakeholders). The report showed how international hotel chains challenge inclusive
growth and highlighted the benefits of locally owned or operated niche tourism ventures.
- British Academy study (2010) `Resilience or vulnerability? Local island community
responses to environment change tourism' (3.4). This was part of a longitudinal study of a
small tourism-dependent island in eastern Indonesia that Hampton had previously
researched in the late 1990s. Findings from fieldwork interviews in autumn 2011
demonstrated the complex, dynamic multiple roles of local stakeholders and the tensions
between traditional resource management and the increasing commercialisation of tourism
with outside ownership.
- British Academy (ASEASUK Research Committee on South-East Asian Studies - 2007)
pilot study in South-East Asia on `Cross-border tourism: community perceptions and
impacts in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.' (3.5). This involved fieldwork in three
different cross-border tourism destinations including a large integrated resort, a city
destination and a small coastal kampung (village) destination.
References to the research
3.1 Hampton, M.P. (2013) Backpacker Tourism and Economic Development: Perspectives
from the less developed world. Routledge, London. ISBN 9780415594189
3.2 Hamzah, A. and Hampton, M.P. (2013) Resilience and Non-Linear Change in Island
Tourism. Tourism Geographies, 15 (1) pp. 43-67. DOI:10.1080/14616688.2012.675582. (2*
3.3 Hampton, M.P. (2010) Enclaves and ethnic ties: The local impacts of Singaporean cross-border tourism in Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 31
(2). pp. 240-254. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9493.2010.00393.x
3.4 Research grant: - Hampton: Resilience or vulnerability? Local island community responses
to environment change tourism, British Academy £3,000 (Hampton -2010)
3.5 Research grant — Hampton - Cross-border tourism: community perceptions and impacts in
Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, British Academy, £3,900 (Hampton - 2007)
Details of the impact
Hampton's research generates data that inform tourism policy for the world's 40 small island
developing states (SIDS) and poor coastal communities. Consequently, his research is often
conducted in direct partnership with the NGOs and governments needing evidence-based
approaches to sustainable development for vulnerable economies.
The World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat are the two major players in setting the poverty
alleviation agenda for these countries and are now established research partners of Hampton's.
As SIDS have limited resources and restricted access to tourism data, these NGOs promote
effective policymaking by identifying and filling important data gaps. This generally involves two
- Commissioning and publishing relevant data to aid policy decision-making
- Hosting workshops for government technical specialists and high level policy events for
senior government figures, where data are disseminated and policy recommendations
Consequently, Hampton's research findings are incorporated into Commonwealth policy reports
(5.1, 5.2, 5.3), for use by the agencies' in-house specialists and other government representatives.
In addition, he leads discussions at workshops and policy events. Hampton is also commissioned
by national governments to provide evidence, training and recommendations on implementing
niche tourism strategies.
In these ways, Hampton provides a range of users with relevant and robust data that challenge
assumptions about the economic benefits of cruise tourism, multi-national hotel chains and other
large scale initiatives.
Two detailed examples on how Hampton's research shapes and informs tourism policy follow:
4.1 Small scale tourism on the international policy agenda
Hampton's partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and World Bank ensured helped
challenge the assumptions of at least 120 key SIDS tourism decision makers on effective tourism
policies. His contribution to the process was:
4.1.1 Hampton was one of 35 discussants (alongside government ministers and representatives
of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank) at a Commonwealth Secretariat expert
meeting (Nov. 2011), designed to map out innovative growth strategies for small states and
inform Commonwealth policy. Hampton's contribution drew on his British Academy funded
projects (3.4, 3.5) on the risks of large scale tourism as an effective development strategy.
4.1.2 As a result of this contribution, the World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat
commissioned three new studies from Hampton and collaborators on cruise tourism, local
supply chains and inclusive growth (5.1, 5.2, 5.3). The findings have been used by the two
agencies' technical specialists to support evidence-based policy development. The
Seychelles Finance Minister, Pierre Laporte, later gave his support to this approach at a
2013 World Bank annual meeting.
4.1.3 Hampton has also used these findings to advocate small scale tourism at high level
meetings sponsored by these agencies. These included the Commonwealth Small States
Biennial Conference (Sept. 2012), which was attended by 60 Ministers, High
Commissioners and other senior representatives from Commonwealth countries. Hampton
contributed to a session on sustainable tourism.
4.1.4 Hampton also worked directly with tourism specialists from 11 Caribbean countries at the
World Bank's Caribbean regional meeting (Nov. 2012). Using findings from his
commissioned project as a starting point, the workshops identified suitable data for local
use and data gaps for future World Bank reports. Hampton also prepared the summary
report of key outcomes (5.4).
4.1.5 Most recently, Hampton also worked with the Foreign Office and Europe-based High
Commissioners or Ambassadors from small island nations in the Caribbean and Indian
Ocean at the agenda-setting event Sustainable economic growth in small island states:
challenges and opportunities at Foreign Office executive agency, Wilton Park (Nov. 2012).
The impact of these events on participants is exemplified by an emailed statement from a
Programme Director at Wilton Park (5.5):
"several of the participants commented on the usefulness of the information presented in terms
of policy recommendations they would be making to their home governments. In particular,
comments were made on potential actions to be taken as a result of conference participation
as follows..."It has provided useful advice to government and will initiate further discussion with
counterparts to seek new partnerships"; "I will follow up regarding lobbying Brussels to consider
application of Vulnerability Index in classification of SIDS and push for progress on
establishment of EPA Implementation Unit to take advantage of benefits"; "I will build the issue
into Euro-Caribbean relations we are holding in 2013"."
The impacts from this activity are on-going and Hampton's most recent Commonwealth report (5.1)
was launched at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting in October 2013.
5 National government policy and practical initiatives
Hampton also works directly with national governments, industry associations and NGOs on
specific projects with practical outcomes, such as his 2006-7 study on backpacking in Malaysia
(5.6) and workshops with NGO Swisscontact in Indonesia in May 2010 and September 2011.
A Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture representative described the outcomes of the report
that resulted from Hampton's backpacking project (5.6), as follows:
`As well as....filling out some significant gaps in our knowledge of the growing (backpacker) sector,
the report has been an invaluable resource for tourism policy-makers... the report highlighted the
importance of small-scale tourism to the Malaysian economy and fed into the decision-making for a
number of initiatives including our successful `Homestay Program''.
As a result of the project, Hampton worked directly with the Malaysian Budget Hotel Association,
the statutory organization representing the country's 10,000 budget hotels. His evidence-based
recommendations were used to help with the development, location and marketing of the country's
backpacker hostel facilities and develop training courses for hotel owners. The impacts from this
project are on-going. In 2012, Hampton also started working with Malaysia's Iskandar Regional
Development Authority's tourism specialists on a programme to grow backpacker tourism in the
state of Johor, and is developing a similar initiative with the Indonesian government.
In summary, Hampton's research has helped shape the policy agenda for two international policy
organisations (World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat). He has worked directly with ministers
or technical tourism specialists from at least 15 states and regions (including Malaysia, Indonesia,
Bali, multiple Caribbean states and the Seychelles). As well as ensuring that small scale tourism
has a place on the international policy agenda, the impact of Hampton's work can also be seen on
small scale tourism initiatives that benefit specific communities.
Sources to corroborate the impact
5.1 Hampton, M.P. and Jeyacheya, J. (2013) Tourism and Inclusive Growth in Small Island
Developing States: Final Report. Commonwealth Secretariat. July. 132pp.
5.2 Hampton, M.P. and Jeyacheya, J. (2012) Cruise Ship Tourism in Small States: Final
Report. Commonwealth Secretariat, London. August. 27pp.
5.3 Hampton, M.P. and Jeyacheya, J. (2012) Local Tourism Supply Chains in Small States:
Sharing Best Practice. Final Report. Commonwealth Secretariat, London. August. 28pp..
5.4 World Bank/Commonwealth Secretariat meeting 'Data for Growth': Key Issues and
Outcomes. (December 2012).
5.5 Statement from Programme Director, Wilton Park (21 June 2013).
5.6 Report to Malaysia Tourism Ministry TPRG (2007) The Contribution and Potential of
Backpacker Tourism in Malaysia. Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. January.
188pp. by: Hamzah, and Hampton, M.P.
5.7 Statement from Strategic Planning and International Division Malaysian Ministry of
Tourism (29 May 2013).