There Is No Such Thing as Sustainable Tourism: Re-Conceptualizing Tourism as a Tool for Sustainability

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2014

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Abstract

"Increased global concern about sustainability has placed pressure on businesses to justify the value of their products and services beyond personal profit and to take responsibility for the negative impacts of their activities. Tourism is particularly susceptible to this pressure, given its generally poor track record in terms of negative social, cultural and environmental impacts, and the lack of compelling evidence of benefits for either the individual tourist or destination communities. While the management of tourism impacts and the relationship between tourism and sustainability have been paid considerable attention by tourism academics, there is little evidence of any significant change in tourism practice. This paper will argue that this lack of change reflects problems in the way tourism academics have conceptualized sustainable tourism. After reviewing these problems with sustainable tourism, this paper will offer an alternative framework for sustainable tourism that focuses on the concept of quality-of-life, recognizes the complexity of tourism within local and global systems, adheres to the principles of responsible tourism, and explicitly assesses the value of tourism as one tool, amongst many, for sustainability. One potential application of the framework will be demonstrated with a case study of tourism development on Magnetic Island in Australia."

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tourism, sustainability, quality of life

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