Criteria for Sustainable Tourism: Why a Cautious Attitude is Needed

There has been much discussion of sustainable tourism and there is in fact an international academic journal entitled Sustainable Tourism. However, there appear to be few, if any, rigorous definitions of the concept of sustainable tourism. This is unfortunate because without clear concepts scientific analysis is likely to be hampered and policy advice imprecise and confusing. The above problem exists despite the fact that the concept of sustainable tourism is closely linked by many to definitions of ecotourism, for example, consider the definition that ecotourism is tourism careful of the environment (Wen and Tisdell, 1995, Tisdell, 1996a). Furthermore, the National Ecotourism Strategy (Commonwealth Department of Tourism, 1994) for instance makes ecological and cultural sustainability an integral part of its definition of ecotourism but for some unknown reason does not include economic sustainability as p of its definition. This therefore, contrasts with a general view expressed in the literature (Barbier, 1987) that the sustainability of industries or projects requires the simultaneous achievement of (1) economic (2) social and (3) biophysical sustainability. If this view is accepted, then sustainable tourism would require these three characteristics to be satisfied simultaneously. Nevertheless, to make the concept of sustainable tourism operational, it is necessary to specify or define these characteristics more precisely. To specify operational criteria for sustainable tourism is not easy.

Issue Date:
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN: 1321-6619 (Other)
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Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q56; Q26
Series Statement:
Biodiversity Conservation: Studies in its Economics and Management, Mainly in Yunnan, China

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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