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Biggs, Hall & Stoeckl (2012): The resilience of formal and informal tourism enterprises to disasters

Bibliographic details:

Biggs, D. C., Hall, M., & Stoeckl, N. (2012): The resilience of  formal and informal tourism enterprises to disasters: reef tourism in Phuket, Thailand, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 20:5, 645-665


This paper explores the resilience of vulnerable tourism sectors to disasters in a period of global change and interdependence. The coral reef tourism industry is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and economic and political shocks. The paper also explains why enterprise resilience is central to sustainable tourism management, for economic, socio-cultural and environmental reasons. It extends the concepts of ecological and social resilience to that of enterprise resilience. Using scenarios and interviews with key enterprise staff, the study contrasts the levels of resilience of formal and informal reef tourism enterprises, and the factors associated with the enterprise resilience in Phuket, Thailand, following the 2004 tsunami and the 2008 political crisis. Informal enterprises reported better financial condition in a crisis scenario and higher levels of social capital in the form of government, family and community support than formal enterprises. Formal and informal enterprises both enjoy high lifestyle benefits from reef tourism, which supports resilience. Most formal enterprises had part foreign ownership/management (61%); no informal enterprise had any foreign ownership or management. Management policies supporting reef tourism should consider local nuances and the importance of lifestyle benefits for both formal and informal enterprises, and take steps to enable enterprise flexibility and cost-cutting during crises.