Growing up in a tourist destination is a unique experience that shapes children and young people in so many ways. Research shows how important it is for young people’s felt sense of identity and belonging to have a meaningful connection to place. Overcrowding due to tourism can sometimes jeopardise this connection. This research actively engaged a group of young people, members of the Byron Youth Theatre, to co-research tourism issues in the Byron Shire.

Preliminary findings show:

Young people care deeply about their community, particularly when witnessing the negative impacts of tourism activity, including littering, anti-social behaviours, housing affordability, homelessness, and disrespect for Aboriginal sacred sites. Findings also suggest young people in the Byron Shire long for a more socially and environmentally just tourism. In advocating for change, they want to be active citizens in making decisions to ensure a sustainable future.

Hence the findings of this research have informed an original theatre production devised and performed by and for young people. The social messages researched and conveyed by the young people in this performance function as both an educational and advocacy tool to lobby for sustainable tourism solutions in their community. The performance, which will tour local high schools in 2021, will open up conversations on how to promote more responsible, ethical, and sustainable forms of tourism.

Outputs

Canosa A., Simmons C., Cook P. J., Apostolides L., Wall A. & Evington R. (2021) ''Reclaiming place in a tourist town’: Preliminary findings from a social theatre research project run by young people during COVID-19', Annals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights, 2 (1), 100008.

Funding

  • Southern Cross University Industry Research Collaboration/Engagement Grant, School of Education (2019/2020)
  • Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) 2020/2021
  • Country Arts Support, Regional Arts NSW

For further information about this project please contact Dr Antonia Canosa: antonia.canosa@scu.edu.au