Landscape & Cultural Exchange

Meg Back

4th year student, Unitec



Tourism, the world’s largest industry (Schevyns & Russell 2009), surpassed sugar cane several decades ago to become Fiji’s lead income earning sector ( With the significant emphasis on Tourism as a percentage of GDP and contributor to the balance of payments comes also great risk; Fiji is prone to both natural catastrophes (suffering 3 major weather events in the past three years) and political turmoil (elections this month returning the country to democracy for the first time since 2006). Tourism may also result in adverse social, cultural and environmental outcomes (Rajotte 1980). One of the country’s main challenges is to ensure a stable flow of visitors and to maximise the benefits for its people (Girard & Nijkamp 2009).

Sustainable tourism, or eco-tourism is often seen as a desirable product for improving benefits for all stakeholders in the tourism industry. This paper considers the question of the importance of culture as a facet of sustainability, with the objective of assessing the value of landscape architecture (theory and practice) in offering solutions for more beneficial outcomes (for all stakeholders). Examination of relevant literature, especially interrelationships between the disciplines of Tourism (including eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, cultural tourism), Anthropology, and Landscape Architecture (including placemaking, sustainability, cultural landscape) shows the value of a landscape architect facilitated “exchange” of ideas expressed through the landscape, by the landscape. Consideration of the theories show that application, recognition and interpretation of culture in (and around) the resort landscape, can increase sustainability while providing mitigation of some of tourism’s adverse effects. The resulting multidisciplinary solution has the potential to improve outcomes for all tourism stakeholders.



Due to their size, relative distance from large populations and traditionally restricted economies with historical dependence on primary commodities (e.g. copra, sugar, pineapples), tourism can seem to offer an effective solution for island nations to increase employment and bring in foreign exchange. The remote location serves to make the destination more exotic and enticing and, as the consumer traditionally travels to the ‘product’, distance from market is less of an issue (Rajotte 1980, Scheyvens and Russell, 2009). As a result, researchers note that most island states in the Pacific see tourism as a welcome strategy for economic diversification and growth (Harrison, as in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009). In Fiji, tourism is the lead income earning sector, with revenue totalling FJD$1.318.2 million in 2013 ( When compared to the value of crops (coconuts, bananas, cocoa and coffee) in the South Pacific over a 20 year period, only tourism demonstrates a continuous upward trend (Sofield et al. in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009).

Tourism has the potential to do a lot of good for a community; Beqa Lagoon Resort, Fiji (the principle case study for this investigation), is the main employer for the west side of Beqa Island. However, there is also considerable potential for localized degradation or exploitation (Girard & Nijkamp, 2009). As one theorist stated, “Tourism is like fire. It can cook your food or burn down your house” (Fox, as quoted in Craik 1991).

In the Pacific, the outcomes of tourism are not  always beneficial, with reports of social problems, dislocation of the traditional village and family structures, cultural deterioration and lower than predicted economic benefits. An added issue of tourism is that while the benefits are often measured in economic terms, the costs tend to involve facets of the industry that are more intangible, including social, cultural and environmental considerations (Rajotte, 1980). One of the chief concerns is that while tourism has increased foreign revenue generation and significantly contributed to job creation in the South Pacific, the benefits could be much greater, especially for the poorer regions of society (Scheyvens & Russell, 2009). As the concept of landscape includes cultural and social values and the interpretation of landscape as a lived experience (Swaffield 2003), comparison of the disciplines of tourism, anthropology and landscape architecture can elucidate landscape based mechanisms to mitigate some of the intangible costs of tourism.

The terminology: Sustainable Tourism/ Eco-tourism/cultural tourism

Sustainable Tourism seeks to address some of these issues, with Riddell (2004) defining it as “as style of nature based encounter which seeks to achieve host gain, some social enrichment both ways, and a conservation of the cultural and natural heritage”. While “sustainable tourism” is potentially a key tool for addressing the dilemma between tourism and conservation, it seems in practice to be a poorly defined and elusive concept.

Close to sustainable tourism by definition is “eco-tourism”, defined as  “environmentally responsible, enlightening travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations” (Ceballos-Lascaurain, in Scheyvens 1999).

Cultural tourism – tourism that focuses on a destination’s culture, including lifestyle heritage, art industries and leisure pursuits of the local population (Foo & Rossetto as quoted in Sigala & Leslie 2005) is hence a subset of sustainable tourism (or eco-tourism) which has a particular focus on intangible values. As the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance points out, mutually beneficial relationships are extremely important in the context of tourism sustainability, whether between people and the environment or between people and people (retrieved from Given this, to consider the benefits of cultural landscape in a tourism setting, investigation must be placed at the confluence of multiple disciplines, including theories of tourism, sustainability, and anthropology as well as landscape architecture.

Riddell states that sustainable tourism is “about local people, local economics, local cultural and celebratory events, and the local environment,” reinforcing the close relationship between cultural landscape and sustainable tourism. Posey (in Robinson and Picard 2006) termed this interrelationship as “the inextricable link” and places it at the centre of the sustainable development concept. An example of the “inextricable link” is the pronounced effect on the social, economic and health issues of indigenous people who live in sites of significant biodiversity, of the conservation and evolution of this biodiversity. As tourism is centred on the fundamental principal that exchange between peoples allows both expression of culture and experience of culture (Robinson & Picard 2006), a resort landscape is potentially both cultural landscape, and opportunity for conservation of biodiversity. Robinson and Picard (2006) summarise this: “tourists, in consuming the natural environment may also be consuming culture in terms of the various local cultural values that may have been ascribed to a particular landscape or natural site”.

Theories of Tourism development and the consideration of the “intangible”

Throsby’s (2009) three golden rules of sustainability for cultural tourism destinations talk about getting the values right, getting the sustainability principles right, and finding the correct way to subsequently measure the application of the first two principles. Despite being an economist, his rules of sustainability consider intangibles such as cultural values (including the spiritual value of the traditions), the social values and connections to the people, the historical values, and the symbolic value or the way the site carries narratives of meaning for the stakeholders. Byrd (2013) recognises these intangible qualities in landscape terms with his statement that “the most powerful places possess a magic born of peculiarities of region and time. These are the landscapes that juxtapose human ideals such as rational geometric order with the natural circumstances of climate, landform, water flows and plant communities.” As there is a host of intangible values involved with the conservation of heritage, especially in the cultural sense, the issue of recognition and prioritisation of these becomes extremely pertinent. The meanings and values of culture are considered difficult to assess and frequently contested (Robinson & Picard 2006).

Butler’s product life cycle theory, first proposed in the 80s, is one of the most debated and quoted, having been revisited over 50 times in published literature. Butler’s model has been found useful and pertinent in research throughout the world, from settings as diverse as the United states, Sri Lanka, Malta, the Isle of Man, the Algarve, Australia and Bali (Putra & Hitchcock, 2006). Although there are possible weaknesses in its application to colonial and post-colonial societies, in a Pacific context Butler’s theorem is still considered a useful theoretical tool (Douglas, 1997).

During the exploration stage, as tourists discover an area, they are attracted by natural or cultural features, initiating interaction with locals, and enjoy the informal and somewhat rudimentary tourist infrastructure. However, Butler’s theory posits that as a country’s tourism industry moves into the “development phase” locally provided facilities are rapidly superseded by larger, more up to date facilities provided by external organisations, particularly with respect to accommodation.

The investment cost of an international hotel is often beyond the means of a small island government. As Rajotte (1980) reminds us, in Fiji, as in the Pacific, tourism development has been determined by accessibility, so while there is considerable support from the government in the form of a national airline (Fiji Airways) and investment from the national superannuation fund FNPF; large hotel development has traditionally been initiated by outside investors (albeit sometimes as part of joint ventures e.g. the Intercontinental at Natadola). Fiji tourism is considered by researchers to be foreign dominated and centred around resort style development (Scheyvens & Russell 2009); 94% of the 132 tourism projects initiated between 1988 and 2000 in Fiji, had foreign ownership (Narayan and Prasad as quoted in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009).

Butler himself reviewed his theorem in 2000 and 2004, and pointed out that the concept of life cycle in tourism represents an early call for sustainable tourist development. Indeed many feel the term “stagnation” has a negative ring when that stage may indeed hold many benefits for a region. In Bali, after the more common tourist sources diminished post bombings, they were partially replaced by lower yield budget travellers from Taiwan and Korea, taking advantage of lower/”cut price” rates. This lead to concern for the sustainability of tourism operations and a call for change to a lower volume but higher yield/quality model.

Hitchcock and Darma Putra commented in their publication “The Bali Bombs and the Tourist Development Cycle” that the Balinese have been notable in reacting to this situation by turning to their cultural resources and adapting them as “cultural strategists” to form “cultural solutions”. This demonstrated that the prevention of further development to conserve cultural and natural assets, that typifies the stagnation stage, can potentially move a country’s tourism toward greater long term sustainability. While Butler did not consider in the 80’s the effect of political turmoil or terrorism, later evaluation of his theory as it applies in countries such as Rome, Vienna, Bali and Egypt shows that while a successful tourism industry requires political stability, tourism will indeed bounce back once the threats are removed (as quoted in Putra & Hitchcock, 2006), which suggests the possibility of post coup Fiji being an opportunity for the introduction of more sustainable tourism practices via an increased emphasis on cultural strategy.  

Recognition of the significance of protection of culture

To explain, tourism leads to rapid social change which may be unacceptable or erode fundamental structure (Craik, 1991), and this holds true in the Pacific (Rajotte, 1980). The oft-quoted costs of change include destabilisation and undermining of local culture, while tourism literature contains multiple negative examples noting cases where corporate tourism commodifies, objectifies and caricatures native cultures (Crystal 1989; Greenwood 1989; Loukissas 1978; Nash 1982; Trask 1993 as quoted in Pigliasco 2007; Robinson & Picard 2006). As an example, one of Fiji’s iconic attractions, the Beqa fire walkers, has been subject to alteration through commodification for consumption by the tourism industry (Burns, 1994, Pigliasco, 2007, 2010, 2011).

The world wide understanding of culture as an important concept for the construction of social identity has broadened considerably since the ‘landmark’ UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. Cultural heritage still remains about material expressions such as buildings, sites and objects, but is now considered by UNESCO to also relate to intangible expressions, including “language and oral tradition, social practices, rituals, festive and performance events, or ‘ways of life’ and everyday practice” (Robinson & Picard 2006). It is also now considered that the close inter-relationship between culture and natural landscapes is vitally important, hence to protect both is to enable protection and re-creation of resources. UNESCO has included cultural landscapes as a category of World Heritage Sites since 1992 in recognition of the close links between culture and nature, and Fiji ratified the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2010 (Robinson & Picard 2006,

The  wide range of tourism’s negative effects include degradation of sites, damage to artefacts, loss of vegetation and wildlife, pollution, excessive utilisation of natural resources and multiple socio-cultural impacts (Craik 1997), What Bouchenaki, UNESCO’s assistant Director General for Culture refers to as the “tremendous opportunity to advance cultural understanding among the inhabitants of this planet” is compromised by these issues (as in Robinson & Picard 2006).

Conversely, however, the host culture may enjoy benefits including visibility and reputation of culture worldwide, or revitalisation of traditional music, arts, crafts, and rituals. Tourism therefore has four key positive influences:-

changing visitor’s attitudes toward conservation and the environment
using tourism to justify conservation
enhancing environmental management
having a positive impact on the social environment by acting as a catalyst for new or reinvigorated social and cultural activities throughout a community (Pearce, as quoted in Craik 1991).

The alienation process of tourism

Tourism typically changes the spatial and demographic realities of a place, to create its own form and type of touristic landscape (Robinson & Picard 2006). Other impacts of large tourism business entities include increased planning and provision of facilities, and this is not always true to local preferences (Butler 1980 as in Putra & Hitchcock 2006; Craik 1991). Privatisation of public spaces is just one of many social impacts as a consequence of subtle shifts in ownership, with alienation of the best land both aesthetically and economically a common pattern.

In Fiji, there has always been a conflict between the Fijian traditional concept of land as a scared community trust, and the western concept of land as a resource for development (Kamikamica, 1987). Resorts are predominately on lease-held land, so the villagers may encounter a situation where access to their tribally held land or even fishing grounds is limited or non-existent.

In Fiji the Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB) administers leases and also acts on behalf of communities in lease negotiations with foreign investors; leading to concerns that ordinary members of landowning communities are not fully involved in negotiations or sharing fully in the benefits. Additionally traditional decision-making processes in the South Pacific with respect to communal land tenure often do not include consultation with all voices, with women in particular prone to marginalisation (Scheyvens & Russell 2009).

The Case of Beqa Lagoon Resort; how important is community?

In 1988, the NLTB approved the development of Canadian owned Marlin Bay Resort (now known as Beqa Lagoon Resort, with US based ownership), the first tourist development on Beqa (Burns 2003, as reported in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009). The immediate and major impact on the communities of Beqa, as observed by Burns (2003),  included negative feelings due to the perception that financial rewards were not being distributed fairly, and the feeling that communities were “losing control over their local affairs through an exclusion from land, events, facilities at the resort.” Additionally the resort site is itself a location of great historical importance, so the western leasing model involving complete alienation for a set period of time was at odds with the indigenous community’s need to retain a cultural and spiritual connection to the land (Sofield (2003), Burns (2003), in Scheyvens & Russell 2009).

The apparent high proportion of the total land area held by Fijian landowning units belies the fact that much of that land is not suitable for intensive agriculture, settlement or development (Kamikamica, 1987). A commonly quoted figure for available land on Beqa Island is 12% (Rambaldi et al., 2005), and Beqa Lagoon Resort is considered to be on one of the best areas of level ground (Burns in Scheyvens & Russell 2009).

To determine what form (and degree of intensity) of tourism development is appropriate, and sustainable long term, a great deal of attention needs to be directed towards social and cultural priorities. Community involvement is known to be key. Cooke (in Craik, 1991) noted as early as 1982 the lower the community involvement in planning, the more quickly the community carrying capacity for tourism was reached.

The long term success of tourist development depends on whether a community feels positively about tourism projects and regards them as relevant to their community (Craik, 1991), with Taylor (2008) stating that the concept of placemaking is vitally important for a renewed sense of history and heritage values in a cultural landscape. Or as anthropologist Guido Pigliasco (2007) puts it “communities produce heritage, and communities must make decisions about heritage”. While Firewalking is the main “craft” on Beqa, there are long standing arguments from anthropologists over the damage caused by the commodification of it for tourist consumption. Associated effects such as drops in agricultural production were also reported (Burns, 1994, Pigliasco 2007, 2010, 2011).

The involvement of the community in the planning and management of tourist  development are key criteria for ensuring sustainable development and acceptable impact levels (Craik, 1991). Indeed ownership and sense of control are seen as important developmental benefits in their own right, with Pacific based studies showing that there is less experience of negative social and cultural impacts when local communities feel they have influence over tourism (Berno, in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009). This parallels Ethan Kent’s statements that placemaking can be used as an environmental tool for increasing sustainability via encouraging and empowering people (as retrieved from To do this in a non European context the challenge lies the separation of Western theory and practice from cultural values, so non-western cultural values can be “confidently expressed in landscape planning and design resulting in contemporary places that resonate and connect to the local culture” (Menzies, 2013).

In this increasingly globalised and homogenised world, niche marketing which emphasises the regional and local features is assumed to confer competitive advantage (McDonnell & Burton 2005). Avoidance of erosion and/or homogenisation of local culture has been shown to provide strategic benefits, especially with regard to gaining entrepreneurial advantage or resilience in the face of external pressures. In the case of Bali, the ability to use and adjust culture to respond flexibly to external pressures meant it could be used as a strategic resource to their benefit (Putra & Hitchcock 2006).

Regional and local features in the Pacific context include the mythology.

The loss of indigenous knowledge regarding cultural relationship with the environment is considered a real threat (Koya 2010). There is a saying “there are many stories in Fiji” (pers. comm. Alipate Bola) and there are numerous stories of spirits who are simply accepted as being all around; frequently at the heart of these stories are long practiced methods of sustainability. It has been suggested that it is inappropriate to consider the theories of education for sustainable development without the inclusion of these cultural considerations (Koya 2010). On Beqa Island, the oral nature of local history is integrally linked to the landscape: “Each narration re-establishes indexical landmarks with paths and sites on Beqa. Narratives transform places into landmarks in time and space, making them monuments of Island history” (Siikala & Siikala, 2005, in Pigliasco & Lipp 2011). Contemporary models of ecotourism also recognise the value of indigenous cultural knowledge for both efficient natural space management and to increase levels of institutional and symbolic empowerment (Robinson & Picard 2006).

Tourism surveys such as Colmar Brunton’s (2004) separate culture from landscape, their findings showing ‘landscape’ to be the main reason for travel, with ‘culture’ coming in second. For the Landscape Architect, the two are more closely linked. The phenomenon of landscape can be investigated as a biophysical system, or via the psychological process of human visual perceptions, or through interpretation of how the landscape represents social and cultural value, with the understanding that landscape is a lived experience (Swaffield 2003). The Cultural Landscape Foundation similarly describe cultural landscapes as providing “a legacy for everyone”, with “scenic, economic, ecological, social, recreational, and educational opportunities (as retrieved from Hence the landscape represents a significant opportunity for reinstatement or showcasing of indigenous cultural knowledge for the benefit of both the environment and the stakeholders.

The Role of Policy

Cultural Heritage, which traditionally focused on Princes, Priests and Politicians (Richard Engelhardt, UNESCO, as in Taylor, 2008) and now includes ‘people’. Ideologies compel people to create places, and places reflect everyday ways of life. In Fiji, the influence of the government remains significant. In countries where tourism is a leading sector, tourism policy becomes an important mode for increasing sustainable policies (Girard & Nijkamp 2009).

World wide, the accusation remains that overseas developers prefer the absence of strong regulatory frameworks that protect from environmental and social impact (Robinson & Picard 2006). Like many countries where the public sector provides both basic infrastructure, and promotion of strong national imagery to attract tourists and tourism developers (Robinson & Picard 2006), the Fijian Government implements policy which affects tourism through a number of departments. Land lease issues and/or negotiations are governed via the Native Lands Trusts Board. Investment in tourism entities is directly undertaken by the Government via the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF), while the Fiji Visitors Bureau (better known as Tourism Fiji) is funded by the Government to not only promote Fiji, but to react rapidly to instability (such as the coups) via its subgroup, TAG (the Tourism Action Group); a flexible group which regroups relatively rapidly to respond to adverse events (King & Berno, in Scheyvens & Russell 2009).

The Department of National Heritage, Culture and Arts (which is split into three smaller entities: the Fiji Museum, the National Trust of Fiji and the Fiji Arts Council) report to the government on initiatives to protect significant land and culture.  Anthropologist Guido Pigliasco considers that the Fijian Government is showing increasing recognition of the value of protection of social and cultural values of the indigenous community (Rambaldi et al 2005) and stated “this commitment derives from the recognition of traditional knowledge and cultural expression as a means of self-expression, social identity and a living and ever developing tradition, rather than just a memory of the past”.

A Ministry of Planning statement from 2001 noted that ecotourism could confer benefits in the fields of conservation of Fiji’s biodiversity, indigenous Fijian culture and tradition, and the natural environment (Rambaldi et al 2005). The Bainimarama Government made further moves toward protection of Fijian craft and culture with the relatively recent instigation of “Buy Fiji made” (, Niqa Tuvuki pers comm). Interestingly they also addressed the notion of alienation of various stakeholders from land or sea by resorts (under the leaseheld model) when in 2010 the Regulation of Surfing Areas Decree 2010 was passed (Government of Fiji, 2010). This opened up a series of “private” surf breaks, and was met with both jubilation (“Native land and reef rights should be held and enforced by indigenous owners only, and not by non local, foreign businessmen/surfers”) and concern (especially with respect to protection for the environment)(
Previous inaction by the government in tourism development, coupled with the strong influence of foreign investors has resulted in unbalanced regional tourism development. Fiji’s roading infrastructure is considered an example of this, with the bulk of investment in roading infrastructure on the main island of Viti Levu, located in the “tourist belt” between Nadi and Suva (Rao, in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009). The disparities resulting from the spatially unequal development between tourism areas and rural agricultural areas stifle the broader based development or “back-links” that would benefit a far wider community through both income and exhibition of culture (Torres, 2000 in Scheyvens and Russell, 2009; Rajotte 1980). Examples are local artisans selling crafts, stimulation of the agricultural sector through sourcing of food locally, or even locally owned food outlets selling indigenous cuisine ( Scheyvens and Russell, 2009).

Food, sustainability and the landscape

One of the aspects of Buy Fiji Made is “Fiji Grown”, an initiative that may address the ongoing issue in Fiji tourism of the lack of representation of either Fijian grown food or Fijian culture in food. As most Pacific countries have agrarian societies, backward linkages between tourism and the food producing sectors are viewed as an important component of tourism development, if it is to help alleviate local poverty (Scheyvens and Russell, 2009).  However, although all tourists eat, the obvious link between local agriculture and sustainable tourism is seldom the focus of any sustainable tourism initiatives (Berno, 2011). Of the tourism expenditure in Fiji, 20% is on food (Berno 2011), and yet up to 70% of the food is imported (Oliver, as retrieved from

As the tourist worldwide seeks the more authentic experience, food is an ideal vehicle for delivering this. As Berno (2011) states “Increasingly as destinations seek to differentiate themselves in the market, a distinctive local cuisine can be used as a tool for promotion. This further serves to reinforce the increasing desire of tourists for ‘authentic’ experiences. Sustainable cuisine, which supports local agriculture production, can be an integral tool for sustainable tourism”. Chef Robert Oliver is more upfront about it what he calls “food colonialism” with his statement “Can you imagine the effect on a people when others are saying ‘your food is not good’? Especially when those people demonstrate sharing, generosity and celebration so often through food. It hurts.” (

A shift to both purchase of locally grown food and presentation of more local cuisine in resorts is one of the moves with the greatest potential for both nationwide economic advancement, and local empowerment through celebration of local cuisine and enhanced opportunity for income. However, any such moves must be made with absolute regard for local customary practise. Two Fijian reports of the  1950’s and 1960’s –the Spate report and the Burns report –brought to the fore for many Fijians the debate about veivakatorocaketaki vakailovo (economic development) as it pertained to their land. As summarised by Baba (2010) the main argument was that the Fijian was lagging behind economically especially compared to the other major race (Fiji Indians), and dragging the whole nation down, as they owned or had customary rights to the bulk of the natural resources. The result of the subsequent actions to increase cropping on Fijian owned land is generally considered to be a failure, and Academic Tupeni Lebaivalu Baba found, in his analysis, the answers came from application of the Fijian cultural construct.

He noted firstly that the presentation of planting suggestions, either by chiefly people or consultants/officials (also behaving like chiefs), as well as the use of a mode of consultation which was basically very formal, requiring strict adherence to Fijian formal protocols; required the Fijians to act according to custom, and therefore not share their individual opinions. Although many development projects were initiated for advancing Fijian development most were not successful (Watters, 1969 and Belshaw 1964, in Baba 2010).

The notion of ‘sautu’ or ‘the good life’ (Baba 2010) was a major missing factor in the debate. A ‘good life’ in the village entails ceremonies, feasting and some dancing and living at peace with the community. Instead, from the late 50’s a series of forced crop growing taught villagers that
a)    international markets were fickle, and
b)    the answer for their land was what they had been doing for over one hundred years or so, which their ancestors had done before them (Baba 2010).

As Baba (2010) summarises:
“If the goals of development and the goals of ‘sautu’ of the ‘good life’ are closely connected would this in effect meant the end of development? Nabobo-Baba identified ‘sautu’ as having a sense of peace or vakacegu just to be or to live with one self, and yet be connected with one’s relations, people, tribe and Vanua (land)”. Sustainability is not only about economic aspects of development, it is equally to do with important cultural values like relationships between people and the custodian relationship between nature and man; this contradictory message of the need to develop and the need to conserve traditions has paralysed many projects (Baba 2010). Changes in tourism practice including the opportunity to have local island villages provide increased amounts of produce would have to take these issues into account.

Other aspects of Culture

Tourism additionally affects culture through the degradation and alteration of local art forms.
As Robinson & Picard (2006) state “Tourism and its wider institutional networks operate in an asymmetric relation of power, importing touristic aesthetics and underlying values to the selection and interpretation of various cultural resources”. Butler’s theorem documents the loss of control by locals as the value of tourism increases, and indeed as the value of Pacific tourist art increased, manufacturing methods and controlling entities changed. Existing craft objects were replicated without alteration or artistic development many times, or conversely altered to suit the market’s desires; the Tanoa (Kava bowl), is now available to the tourist in sizes ranging from large and elaborately carved to small enough to use as a salt dish.

Even the assumption that artefacts in museums are ‘authentic’ may be misleading, with many of those objects also made specifically for sale to outsiders (Brunt et al. 2012). While local Fijian artist Lingikoni Vaka’uta notes that the market for traditional artifacts can allow people to earn a living, he is concerned that repeated duplication does not address the need for development of contemporary Pacific art, based on cultural ideas and seen as valid cultural expression (Koya, 2010). Imported items sold to tourists instead of locally sourced art and craft serve to compound the issue. This is despite a reported large demand for authentic, locally made gifts, especially contemporary Fiji-inspired art (Tuiqaqa, 2012; Maria Rova pers. comm.).

The Fiji Arts Council is guided by UNESCO which emphasises that culture must be situated central to the country’s development policy, to ensure place is maintained for future generations, as well as serving as a mode for adaptation to ever-changing global processes (  “Authentic” art forms are integral to the identity of a nation, in some cases even, as in the case of the Lapita people (who produced a distinctive dentate stamped pottery found across the Pacific) becoming the mode for categorisation (Bolton et al. 2012). Fijian indigenous artists have moved towards claiming their cultural art heritage in more exclusive ways, for example the women of a limited group of geographical areas, including Vatulele (and their descendants) are accepted as the only producers of tapa and the kesakesa designs (Koya,  2014), while pottery is the accepted craft of several Coral Coast villages. Firewalking is the domain of a select group of the people of Beqa Island (Pigliasco 2007). Valid cultural expression of regional arts and crafts is an integral facet of the destination landscape and can help reinforce cultural identity while providing an enhanced experience for the traveller.


A greater emphasis on the cultural aspect of tourism has the potential to address the issue of stability in the market as culture can in principle be supplied year round and remain true in the face of other adverse events (Girard & Nijkamp, 2009). Tourism is considered the contemporary pilgrimage, an opportunity to escape to a natural space allowing cultural reconnection with the mythical dream of a golden age, of paradise (Délumeau, Graburn, Cohen; in Robinson & Picard, 2006). Taylor’s statement effectively applies this notion to the land: “Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but interpret it with our mind and ascribe values to landscape for intangible – spiritual – reasons. Landscape can, therefore, be seen as a cultural construct in which our sense of place and memories inhere”.

As the adverse effects of tourism, and the elements of cultural landscape are both intangible values, the landscape is a logical mechanism for mitigation. The relationship of placemaking to improved sustainability (reported in landscape theory) is echoed in both tourism and anthropological research. The integration of local culture at multiple levels within and via the landscape, via collaboration with local entities, avoids homogenisation while working toward altering the westernised landscape construct to a more contemporised and localised version, and increasing or reinstating the local sense of control and ownership.To look after the cultural values of a landscape is to protect both the biodiversity, and empower the local people, leading to greater carrying capacity of an environment and better outcomes for all stakeholders.

As tourism is typically a bundle of complimentary but not interchangeable products, for example transport cannot replace meals (Berno & Bricker, 2001), integrating aspects of the cultural landscape into all facets of resort operation can result in an effective multidisciplinary solution. Nature becomes both a geographic and metaphoric space, and can be equally represented by the use of natural or organic material.  In the resort context, this can include building and decoration materials, body care products or food (Robinson & Picard, 2006). While creating a resort landscape, the landscape architect is able to implement design and interpretation, for both landscape and cultural aspects, including local plant typologies within and around a resort. Examples of this in the context of Beqa Lagoon resort could include reinstatement of the natural littoral ecosystem, integration of typical village garden species (ornamental and edible), or inclusion of craft and cultural elements, including the pandanus plants used for weaving or the plants historically associated with the tradition of firewalking. Integration of the culture can also be via food (which can be locally sourced where appropriate) or other tourist products such as entertainment, spa treatments. Accommodation can include local elements within art, furniture or bure design. Interpretation links the aspects of the landscape with the elements of the products or crafts, e.g. the inclusion of the dilo tree oils (a local littoral tree species still present in the landscape) in many of the spa treatments could be highlighted.

The collaborative nature of the profession of landscape architecture enables a significant contribution across a range of scales; on a macro scale via contribution to policy, setting up of managed or reserve areas; or on a site specific scale through design and implementation which can use various partnerships to succinctly represent or implement the cultural landscape and address typical tourism requirements within the resort whilst also being functional and beautiful. The relationship between environment and culture is vitally important for the wellbeing and success of all stakeholders, and the Landscape Architect has the skill to implement design moves that recognise this.

Sometimes the interventions can be subtle deletions to return a sense of authenticity, or the creation of the opportunity to experience simple sensory stimuli such as silence, or the sounds of waves. Hence, the experience becomes complete and memorable (Munsters & De Klumbis 2005), and the surrounding cultural landscape can seep in from all directions in a non-threatening manner. The simple acts of day to day living can become “the construct through which the histories, traditions and cultural ways of doing are passed on and reinforced” (Smith, as quoted in Koya 2010) or as Taylor (2008) reminds us “landscapes reflect human activity and are imbued with cultural values”. These stories retain history and mythology (with a collection of them from Beqa associated with fire walking), additionally the myths frequently reinforce ancient sustainable practices.

Pigliasco’s extensive anthropological studies of Beqa showed that, “like many other communities in Fiji, cultural heritage is expressed through both tangible and intangible features, places, objects, rituals, myths, memory and the social and contemporary significance they each have” (Pigliasco 2007). The close interrelationship between protection of environment and protection of culture is now well recognised, as well as the benefits of the protection of both. Development of the cultural landscape within the resort setting can increase biodiversity and sustainability of the site while highlighting, showcasing and protecting aspects (including the less tangible) of the local culture.

Protection of the authenticity and quality of cultural experiences can safeguard the unique point of difference Beqa Lagoon Resort has, as a resort on Beqa Island with all of its associated cultural constructs. Examination of relevant literature, especially interrelationships between the disciplines of Tourism (including eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, cultural tourism), Anthropology, and Landscape Architecture (including placemaking, sustainability, cultural landscape) shows the value of a landscape architect facilitated “exchange” of ideas expressed through the landscape, by the landscape. UNESCO emphasises that centralising culture in development policy ensures place is maintained for future generations and aids in the development of flexible, resilient reponses to global forces (Robinson & Picard, 2006). The expression of cultural and ecological messages via the landscape helps form and reinforce relationship with place for guests, staff, management and owners, to the benefit of all stakeholders.