Globally, enclavisation in tourism arose from the need to create exclusive centres of tourism that are safe investments and that which ensures a steady flow of income across all seasons. But, studies show that the intense resource usage by tourism establishments, the resultant environmental pollution, widened income inequalities, displacement of people and socio-cultural effects are some of the adverse impacts associated with tourism enclaves around the world. Economically, these enclaves end up giving little to “host” communities as they wait endlessly for a share of the tourist spending to ‘trickle down’ to them.

While India was witnessing widespread protests against the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act 2005, the National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC), a think tank under the Ministry of Tourism, floated in November 2006 the proposal of establishing Special Tourism Zones (STZs). This paper argues against the establishment of STZs and substantiates its arguments through cases of the nation’s past experience with tourism enclavisation, examples of states currently pursuing STZs and the impacts of tourism development through STZs and SEZs.

In their insightful book “Seductions of Place”, editors Alan Lew and Carolyn Cartier provide a useful interpretation on “touristed landscapes2” which could be our starting point to understand enclavisation in tourism.

“Tourism as a phenomenon and set of processes has increasingly become embedded, whether intentionally or unintentionally, in the relationship between modernity and place, in how places are created and how they are experienced.”

The statement embodies the reality of how processes in the modern world have created the demand for tourism and leisure products that are fundamentally transforming the places people live in. Modernity and the economic processes that are supporting such a demand are also simultaneously dictating the form and pace of such tourism developments. Globally, the process of enclavisation in tourism has been a result of the need to create exclusive centres of tourism. Enclaves are also often viewed as safe investments, which would ensure a steady, continuous and reliable, flow of income from tourism through all seasons. However, enclavisation exploits local resources but gives back little benefit to the local economy.

This paper argues against the new SEZ Policy of the Government of India and the proposals for setting up of STZs through which it will promote the enclavisation of tourism in India by valorising and converting lands, landscapes and common property into islands of leisure. It examines the renewed impetus that India’s SEZ policy has given for the creation of “tourism enclaves” – a model of tourism development that has been fought and rejected by many communities around the world