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In-NOvation in protected and touristic territories

Isabelle Falardeau


Protected areas are tourist destinations where, contrary to popular imaginaries, communities live. In and around those territories, actors implement solutions that meet the needs of their community (Soubirou & Jacob, 2019); they demonstrate social innovation. In doing so, they contribute to new compromises and new forms of regulation or governance (Klein et al., 2014). Sometimes, out of attachment to the territory, they choose alternative paths (Crosetti & Joye, 2021) such as NOvation (Godin & Vinck, 2017). The objective of this study is to analyze how mountain touristic territories articulated around protected areas generate innovation in order to face the challenges they encounter. In the form of a multiple case study, three territories are studied: Mont-Orford (Canada), Banff (Canada) and Aspen (United States). Contemporary issues are discussed in the continuity of their historical roots (see Crosetti & Joye, 2021). The results highlight the specificity of mountain tourism territories where protected areas are found, and the resulting double valuation they are subjected to (by tourism and conservation), that sometimes constrain but also foster (social) in-NOvation (in-NOvation [sociale] in French), a term introduced to name a broadened conception of innovation. It manifests itself in unsuspected spheres: the past, nature, within government institutions, through governance and dynamics of the territories. Touristic and protected mountain territories are not “on the fringes” of innovation, rather, their characteristics (rugged relief, relative eccentricity, exceptional character) make them the breeding ground for a distinction between (social) in-NOvation and the leitmotif of innovation “at any cost” (Everett Rogers, 1963 in Godin & Vinck, 2017). Considering recurring or acute issues, this study contributes to the scientific study of innovation, which is imbued with the prevailing pro-innovation bias (Boutroy et al., 2015; Godin & Vinck, 2017).


Tourism; Social Innovation; NOvation; Protected Areas; Governance

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