Tourism Development and the Environment: Beyond Sustainability?


The relationship between tourism and the physical, socio-cultural, economic and political environments within which it occurs and upon which it impacts has long been recognized and considered within the academic literature. At the same time, the potential role of tourism as an agent of socio-economic development has also long been promoted and debated, although it is only relatively recently that a more critical and theoretically informed perspective on this role has been adopted. However, these two issues have been implicitly connected within the concept of sustainable tourism, a tourism development paradigm that, since the early 1990s, has dominated the tourism literature but which, to a great extent, has focused on prescriptive, managerialist or ‘blueprint’ approaches to tourism development. Moreover, it is now increasingly accepted that the sustainable tourism development debate has reached something of an impasse.

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