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Contesting authentic practice and ethical authority in adventure tourism

Rickly, J.M.; Vidon, Elizabeth S.


Elizabeth S. Vidon


This paper examines the discourses of authenticity and ethics used among adventure tourists regarding the use of the natural environment. In one case, full-time traveling rock climbers use their dedication to the sport and annual visits to the Red River Gorge as evidence for their authoritative voice on ethical climbing practice. While they identify the growing numbers of leisure climbers as a problem for sustainability, many also take up temporary employment as guides and are directly involved in the introduction of new climbers to the area. In another case, two groups of wilderness enthusiasts – “ADK 46ers” and “Summit Stewards” – lament the environmental and social impacts of other recreational users in the Adirondack Park. Despite being visitors themselves, Summit Stewards and 46ers use their sense of place and knowledge of Adirondack history and ecology to substantiate their authority as purveyors of ethical practice. In both cases, senses of responsibility are inspired by senses of place, but are articulated through notions of authenticity and used as justification for ethical authority. While validating their presence in these outdoor spaces, the use of such rhetoric also minimizes their own impacts yielding further tensions among user groups.


Rickly, J., & Vidon, E. S. (in press). Contesting authentic practice and ethical authority in adventure tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 17, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 23, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 23, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 24, 2018
Journal Journal of Sustainable Tourism
Print ISSN 0966-9582
Electronic ISSN 1747-7646
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Adventure, Authenticity, Ethics, Rhetoric, Rock climbing, Hiking
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sustainable Tourism on 23rd February 2017, available online:


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