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The tourism potential of the peace dividend.

Tourism is strongly dependent on peace and security (Pizam and Mansfeld 1996). The last decade has seen major changes in global geopolitical arrangements, and while world peace has been the norm since the end of the Second World War in 1945, a large number of smaller conflicts in many parts of the world have meant that peace was often regarded as illusionary and perhaps temporary at best (Butler 1995). Only since the decline of communism and the end of the cold war, along with the radical changes in the former Soviet Union and its allies and the fall of the Berlin Wall, have most countries felt confident enough of the relatively permanent advent of peace that they have been willing to make significant reductions in their armed forces and related infrastructures. Tragically, these reductions have still not occurred in many other parts of the world, and in some areas, such as the Middle East, Afghanistan, and the Balkan States, peace and security have been much later to arrive. In some cases, peace and security are still fragile to say the least, as is reflected in tourism to those locations.


The process of reducing the military element is not new and began in many countries at the end of the First World War, continuing for 20 years until the advent of new hostilities in 1939. Further reductions followed after 1945, interrupted by the Korean War and the building of the Berlin Wall, but continuing at an irregular pace to the present. The reductions reflected are contemporaneous with the decline of the old European and American empires, and the withdrawal of the colonial presence in many now fully independent countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. The British return of, and withdrawal from, Hong Kong represents the latest but certainly not the last disappearance of a military, as well as a colonial and administrative, presence in distant parts of the world. In some cases military bases have been abandoned, others downsized, while others have been maintained on leases and other arrangements into the future.

Related to the decline of the 20th-century imperial powers have been the rise of nationalism and the appearance of new countries on the world political map. One of the results has been the determination of some newly established countries to rid themselves of ancient colonial ties. One of the most obvious and politically sensitive forms of these ties has been the military presence of a colonial power. In some cases, world strategy has played little part in the ideological and economic thinking of countries as they have insisted on the removal of the former colonial power's military presence. The economic effects of such an action have not always been fully appreciated, and short-term political issues may have taken precedence over longer-term economic rational thinking. Thus, bases have been closed and forces removed amid nationalistic delight, sometimes despite considerable local opposition and disappointment, and a need to find alternative forms of economic-income generation in those areas affected.

Not all of the reductions and withdrawals have been occasioned by political changes. Some have been the result of technological changes. The introduction of jet and long-range aircraft and airborne refueling has reduced, if not eliminated, the need for refueling bases. The creation of rocket missiles and the reduction of manned bomber fleets reduced the need for airfields, while increasing the need for smaller sites for missile silos. Early warning systems have changed radically in format and location, and the Distance Early Warning (DEW) line has been relocated several times in the Canadian Arctic in the past 40 years. The increasing reliance on hardware rather than personnel has meant that bases did not need to be as large as in previous times, and as hardware has become ever more sophisticated, the required human component has decreased, allowing a reduction in personnel and associated infrastructure requirements.

The effects of these political and technological changes have been accentuated by economic processes. The economic instability that characterized most of the world since the oil crises in the early 1970s has seen many governments cut back expenditures to reduce budget deficits. As the perceived need for a strong military sector has declined among many powers, the proportion of budgets assigned to defense and the armed forces has tended to be reduced beyond the general reduction in expenditure (Government of Canada 1995). Obvious targets for such reductions have been the remoter bases, where costs are frequently higher than in core areas because of logistics, access, and climatic factors. Where such bases are in other countries, and thus high expenditures cannot be partly justified on the grounds of reducing domestic regional inequalities through indirect economic transfer payments in the form of military salaries and employment, they become particularly tempting targets for abandonment or reduction.

Irrespective of the causes, the overall result during the past 30 years has been a reduction in both the number and size of military establishments in the world, especially those operated by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the former Warsaw Pact. Many of these reductions have taken place along the line of contact in Europe and in strategic locations in and adjoining the North Atlantic. In the latter situation many of the sites affected have been in isolated and/or insular settings, places that frequently have few resources other than their strategic position (Lockhart and Drakakis-Smith 1997). With the geopolitical and technological changes noted above, even this limited advantage is now threatened in many cases. As the military presence declines or disappears, often at very short notice, the affected areas face limited choices with respect to their economic and social future. Heavy reliance on the military element and the wide range of advantages such an arrangement often brought with it in terms of infrastructure development and communications makes the process of readjustment even more difficult. If the military role has a long history, there may be few if any local residents with any experience of what the area was like before the military came, and little idea of how the community can sustain itself in both economic and social terms in its absence.

In many areas tourism and associated development are seen as a possible replacement for the declining or disappearing military economic input, a viewpoint often based on the physical and locational characteristics of many of the locations (U.S. Department of Defense 1993). As discussed elsewhere, islands and remote areas, particularly those with spectacular environments and distinctive cultural attributes, can be highly attractive to tourists (Conlin and Baum 1995; Butler 1996). In some cases, therefore, it is realistic to anticipate that tourism and leisure developments may be appropriate replacements; however, in other cases, the very attributes of a location that made it attractive as a military base may mitigate against a successful future in tourism. The issue of whether such sites do have potential for tourism is one that has been neglected in the tourism literature. The article represents the beginning of an examination of the issues involved in economic restructuring and the significance of preconceptions and expectations about the potential role of tourism. The article reviews the problems experienced with economic restructuring in this context and discusses the specific features and characteristics of tourism in such situations, as well as the continued implications of the reduction of the military presence for tourism development.


Economic restructuring has been faced, with varying degrees of success, by rural and urban communities that have seen traditional livelihoods based on coal, forms of agriculture and the fishery, industries such as shipbuilding and port facilities decline and, in many cases, entirely disappear. Such change is not a new phenomenon but it is fair to say that the impact of such change and the rapidity of decision making surrounding it has been far more evident in recent years than the rather more gradual process that took place in the past. The postindustrial wilderness of parts of Eastern Europe is testimony to the impact of this change during little more than a 5-year period. Likewise, the closure of much of the United Kingdom's deep coal-mining capacity, the almost total obliteration of shipbuilding in the same country, and the loss of sugar as an agricultural staple in a number of Caribbean countries have occurred within the life of a working generation.

Inevitably, the decline of one industry leads to concerted efforts, at community, regional, and national government levels, to seek alternative economic opportunities. Investment by the public sector and by private concerns with public money support is generally designed to cushion the impact in both employment and wider regional economic terms. Tourism and allied service sector activities are frequently heralded as one component within economic restructuring and regeneration. Sometimes, this new tourism may use redundant resources from more traditional sectors such as industry, agriculture, and transportation. Mining and industrial museums, re-creating the past working and community lives of miners, factory workers, or farmers, represent similar initiatives, capitalizing on increased leisure time and interest in, and a wish to preserve, aspects of a bygone heritage. Alternatively, closure of traditional economic activities may lead communities to evaluate other, existing natural and heritage resources in a new light so that proposals to focus on tourism are based on resources that had previously been ignored or were of low priority.

In a similar vein, the Garden Festivals, which took place in the United Kingdom during the 1980s, were public sector-led initiatives designed to provide the impetus for communities to initiate change within their economic and cultural environment (Heeley 1988). Likewise, recognizing the rich architectural heritage of major urban centers such as Glasgow falls into this category - prior to the city's traditional industrial decline, there was only limited interest in exploiting this resource as a potential visitor attraction. This represents an important theme within the wide field of urban tourism (Ashworth 1989, 1992) but is also one that has been recognized, at a practical level, for many years (English Tourism Board 1980, 1981).

A number of major studies have addressed what Buckley and Witt call "tourism in difficult areas"; in other words, urban locations that do not have the natural attraction to potential visitors of overt heritage or natural environmental features (Buckley and Witt 1985, 1989; Hall 1987). Buckley and Witt argue that urban locations, with their high concentration of low-skilled or unskilled workers, are well positioned to capitalize on the regeneration potential of tourism because of its labor-intensive nature and its unskilled job creation capacity (Buckley and Witt 1989, p. 138). The challenges faced by difficult-area tourism have, at a micro level, relevance in the context of the theme of this article in that many military bases and facilities, while they may well be sited in attractive locations, exhibit many of the characteristics of less desirable urban and industrial areas. The perceptual challenges involved with the marketing of industrial locations has also been discussed in some depth, notably by Bramwell and Rawding (1996), who consider the varying success (in some cases considerable) of major industrial cities in the United Kingdom in revitalizing their economies through the development of tourism.

Similar contextual themes are evident in discussions about rural tourism initiatives that largely see the development of a tourism economy as part of a diversification strategy for many rural areas that are faced with both economic and social structural decline (an early example of work in this area is Chow 1980). It has been noted that this decline is closely linked to the diminishing role that agriculture plays within rural communities, driven by technological advancements and capital intensification within the sector (Troughton 1992). In this context, Burke and O'Cinneide (1995) identify the role that tourism can play in creating alternative economic activity in such areas. Stevens (1995) also recognizes tourism's potential, particularly in relation to rural community development when he talks of tourism "as an industry that provides real opportunities for community regeneration and sustainability" (p. 19). Stevens continues by arguing that tourism should be seen as part of pluri-activity within the rural economy, one regeneration strategy among a number of approaches, and not as a single-strand remedy on its own that builds on existing and traditional economic, social, and cultural structures rather than attempting to create something entirely new within the community. There are, however, examples of some community-led initiatives in rural areas that have led to the development of entirely new forms of tourism that are compatible with the wider objectives of rural community development. The book-town movement in Europe is one good example of such new tourism where the impact on declining rural communities has been very significant. That tourism can develop in harmony with rural life and, indeed, contribute to its survival is well illustrated in a study that takes a longer-term perspective of rural tourism development, here in the context of Prince Edward Island in Canada during the 1970s (Adler 1982). Again, there is applicability of rural regeneration themes within the context of this article in that many of our study base locations are in rural settings and their traditional role has been as a provider of economic diversification within communities faced by the decline of traditional rural activities.

However, expectations of tourism as a "cure all" panacea to replace the economic structures that have disappeared may be unrealistic (Burke and O'Cinneide 1995) and can result in frustration and disillusionment at a community level. Tourism frequently creates a form and value of employment that is substantially different from that which existed previously, demanding skills that may not transfer easily from mines, factories, or the land. Deegan and Dineen (1997) rightly note that, particularly in rural and peripheral areas, "the nature of direct jobs in tourism (such as at attractions) may be quite precarious (part-time, seasonal, casual) and give a misleading impression of the value of investment in the sector" (p. 118). Equally important, developing tourism is not just about putting in place infrastructure and attraction facilities. Success demands the delivery of an intangible service and a quality of products that is judged against international criteria in a globally competitive environment.


Military bases frequently have a close social and economic relationship to the communities within which they are located, but this relationship is somewhat different from that enjoyed by other economic sectors, whether primary or secondary. The existence of military facilities in a particular location is the result of factors very different from those that determine the pattern of the "normal" rural or urban economy, although, undoubtedly, a long-standing relationship between a military base and its host community results in a two-way influence process and barrack towns develop cultures and economic environments that are discernibly different from equivalent nonmilitary locations. Military location factors may include the following:

* geopolitical considerations - Thule airbase in Greenland is a good example of a facility, the existence of which can only be explained in geopolitical strategic terms;

* more specific strategic factors - military bases in Iceland and the Faroe Islands were developed by the Americans and British during World War II because of the strategic importance that these islands represented in both Allied and Axis hands;

* operational considerations - the protection of the North Atlantic seaways, a vital concern to the Allies during World War II and, subsequently, during the cold war, led to the development of a large number of air and sea bases in Atlantic Canada and Scotland designed to provide such cover;

* specific locational factors related to land or marine terrain that led to the selection of a location as a military base - sheltered, deepwater anchorages such as Scapa Flow represent one example; Vagar airfield in the Faroes another because its mountainous location was virtually undetectable to the enemy in the 1940s; while Gander Airbase, in Newfoundland, Canada, was selected because of a specific need in the late 1930s to ferry aircraft from North America to the United Kingdom, and its flat terrain, good weather record, and proximity to the Newfoundland railway were ideal for the intended purpose.

As a result, military bases can be said to represent an implant into the traditional economic activities of a community or region, with few traditional economic criteria employed in the selection process such as availability of suitable energy, raw materials, or skills within the labor market. In some cases, military bases were developed in close proximity to or within thriving rural or urban communities and, as a result, their impact was defusing rather than dominating, both while the bases were operational and as a result of downsizing or closure. This is true of facilities such as Downsview, close to Toronto in Canada, Chatham in Kent, England, and a number of former Royal Air Force (RAF) stations in southern England where alternative land use and employment were readily found.

Where the military facilities are virtually the sole raison d'etre for the community, as is frequently the case in more remote locations, the situation is rather different. Here, community dependency on the military facility(ies) is much greater, especially where there is little other rationale for the community's existence. Stephenville, in western Newfoundland, Canada, is a good case in point as the base was established by the American military in the 1940s in a community of less than 100 people and abandoned in 1965. At its peak, Stephenville had a population of more than 15,000 and the current community is close to 10,000.

The economic relationship between a military base and its host community consists of a number of dimensions and varies considerably according to the nature of the base and the types of units that are stationed on it. The direct economic impact consists of three components.

* Base personnel expenditures (military and civilian) that are made off-base. This component will show considerable variation depending on the balance between local and "outsider" personnel employed on the base (outsider personnel on limited rotation through the base are less likely to establish costly "roots" within the community and are more likely to transfer part of their income elsewhere) and the extent to which the base is self-sufficient in terms of its provisioning, entertainment, and related areas of expenditure. The reduction in size of Canadian Forces Base (CFB), Gander, will see a cut in direct salaries and wages paid into the local economy from Can$9.469 million in 19951996 to Can$5.635 million by 1999-2000 (Sypher: Mueller 1996).

* Monies paid directly by the base to the local community in the form of taxes and rents - this again will vary according to location and jurisdiction. In the case of the CFB, Gander, this is in the form of "grants in lieu of taxes" and its value is approximately Can$255,000 per annum (Sypher: Mueller 1996).

* Expenditure in the form of what is styled "Operations and Maintenance" (O&M), that is, monies paid by the base to local contractors and suppliers to keep the base operational. Total O&M expenditure in Gander is likely to reduce from Can$2.7 million in 1995-1996 to Can$2.1 million in 1999-2000 (Sypher: Mueller 1996).

Induced expenditures are calculated on the basis of multipliers within the local economy and can be relatively low within the local economy and within military base communities - in the case of Gander, a figure of 1,14 was derived in relation to income and 1,18 for employment. In many cases, the overall economic benefits of military bases to local economies can be considerably exaggerated and indeed frequently are within the emotional and political maneuvering that surrounds proposals for closure. Buker (1985), in assessing the long-term effect of the closure of CFB Gimli, Manitoba, Canada, notes that "after a short adjustment period, it can be concluded that closure per se did not disadvantage the regional economy, although misinformation and misperceptions surrounding it did" (p. 1).

The impact of military bases on local communities, however, goes beyond the economic. Bases frequently have specific infrastructural requirements in terms of access routes, utilities, and other facilities that are put in place, have common usage between the base and the community and, if the base is closed, remain in place for community economic and social use. Such infrastructure may include major air transport infrastructure that can be used to attract alternative industries, as in the case of CFB Summerside in Prince Edward Island, Canada, but also covers resources such as sports stadia and churches. Some facilities, if released for local community access, may create significant problems within the local economy. Housing stock is a good example, especially in remote areas, where uncontrolled releases of base housing onto the local real estate market have the potential to totally undermine local property prices - the closure of RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, could result in 200 urban-style residences entering a housing market that turns over perhaps 20 properties in an average year.

Base closure can undermine the economic structure of some communities through loss of expenditure on local goods and services as well as the demise of local civilian employment. This latter consideration is of particular significance in the context of remote locations because many of the civilian posts do not readily prepare incumbents for opportunities that may arise in nonmilitary employment. They are either relatively technical in focus or unskilled service positions for which there may not be significant demand within a rural and peripheral economy. They are also, frequently, low-paid positions and do not offer the economy the range of entrepreneurial skills that may be necessary to develop new activities such as those in the tourism sector. Base closure can lead to outward migration of the local population with consequent impact on the capability of the community to attract new and high-value industries to the area. There is also the mind-set challenge that ex-military base communities face in defining their postmilitary future. It is inevitable that communities should seek to build on those skills and facilities that mirror, insofar as possible, those that existed previously within the military environment. Thus, residents in communities with naval dockyards think in terms of alternative uses such as civilian ship repair (such as the former naval base at Rosyth, Scotland), and those in communities with air bases consider civil aviation in terms of developing a nonmilitary airfield or establishing aircraft-related repair of development facilities (such as at the former CFB Summerside). Such mind-sets may well prove to be the most effective route to pursue in the immediate aftermath of base closure but what they may do is to eliminate consideration of significantly different activities, including tourism.


The tourism potential of former military base locations will be dependent on a diversity of factors (location, nature of the resources on offer, significance of the location, climate, and accessibility among them). The tourism potential can be seen in a number of different ways and will appeal in diverse ways to specific market groups. These may include the following:

* The potentially significant market based on those who served at the base during its military era. This is widely recognized by ex-military communities that arrange regular homecomings for ex-servicemen and their families. This market may also have strong visiting friends and relatives (VFR) links in that marriages between service personnel and members of the community are commonplace and this may act as a further inducement to return (more than 25,000 U.S. servicemen married Newfoundland women during the period between the mid-1940s and 1960s). Stephenville, Newfoundland, is a good example of how this market can be developed during a considerable period of time, but it is a market with finite potential.

* The niche market based on military paraphernalia interests those willing to travel considerable distances to see particular artifacts or visit the site of specific military events.

* The "black tourism" military market - visitors wishing to visit the site of particular events, often tragedies whether for family or wider interest reasons. The crash site of the 1985 disaster in which 256 members of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division were killed is one of Gander's most important visitor sites.

* Those visitors wishing to use ex-military facilities because they provide specialist resources (sporting, accommodation, or other) unavailable elsewhere in the locality. In some cases these attributes may exist only because the public has been previously excluded from the area involved.

Recognizing that different visitor groups may perceive the tourism potential of a former base in very different lights is important and is also a source of potential conflict. Whereas former personnel stationed at the base may wish to experience preservation of what was there in the past, others may be looking for the best use of resources for contemporary purposes, even if that does compromise the past.


It was not the purpose of this article to explore the appropriateness of military closure or the role and responsibility of the military to provide employment and income in often marginal areas, particularly when there is no rational strategic reason for a military presence there any longer. It could be argued that a military facility is one method for providing regional development assistance to marginal areas, and the responsibility of the central government in some form to replace such an agent of economic support could be debated at length. Economies, policies, and military priorities all change over time, and areas that benefited from their strategic importance at one time may lose this advantage because of the changes discussed at the beginning of this article. One might argue, for example, that where facilities had been located in isolated areas, the only reasonable governmental responsibility may be to restore the site to a reasonable and safe condition. Where facilities have been added to an existing local community, however, it could be viewed that there is an obligation to assist with redevelopment and to ensure that the closure or downsizing is done in an appropriate manner and timescale. Where, however, new communities have been established because of the development of a facility - Gander in Newfoundland is a case in point - then the obligation of central government is surely greater, and to remove the facility and the raison d'etre of the community without replacement or major adjustment may seem unreasonable. In some locations, environmental and cost considerations may make any replacement impractical, and resettlement of the community may be the only feasible alternative, however unattractive this may be to residents of the communities affected. To many communities, tourism is seen as one of a very limited range of potential replacement functions for an abandoned or severely reduced military facility. In some cases, tourism may not be at all suitable as a replacement source of income and employment, but in others it may represent a realistic form of economic restructuring. It is vitally important, however, that full and careful evaluation be made of the true potential of tourism to avoid misplaced optimism and inappropriate development actions being taken. Only if conditions are suitable and there is community support can tourism be expected to perform satisfactorily.


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Richard W. Butler is a professor of tourism in the School of Management Studies for the Service Sector at the University of Surrey in Guildford, United Kingdom. Tom Baum is a professor of international hospitality management at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The authors would like to acknowledge financial support for the research involved in the preparation of this article from the NATO Scientific Exchange Program and the Agnes Dark Cole Fund of the University of Western Ontario.
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Title Annotation:Special Issue on War, Terrorism, Tourism: Times of Crisis and Recovery
Author:Butler, Richard W.; Baum, Tom
Publication:Journal of Travel Research
Date:Aug 1, 1999
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