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Sustainable tourism – how and what


Abstract: As the world’s fastest growing industry, tourism has a substantial potential to positively impact important social and economic development goals. At the same time, it often brings other negative and sometimes pernicious impacts. As we move to greater consideration of sustainability as a fundamental political, economic and social goal, there is a need to better understand not only current conditions, but progress toward meeting those goals as well.
Indicators are variables that help achieve the monitoring needed to assess progress toward sustainability. Selection of indicators must meet not only important technical criteria but policy relevant criteria as well.

Understanding what is to be sustained thus becomes a significant question in the pursuit of indicators. Tourism is confronted with several different sustainability constructs that reflect not only different policies but carry implications for selection of indicators. These constructs briefly stated are: 1) what is the sustainability of the tourism industry?; (2) how is sustainable tourism developed and managed?; and (3) what should tourism sustain? The policy implication of the latter question is directly related to integration of tourism as an economic activity into community development; and served as the focus of this study.

Over 100 participants in Montana’s tourism and recreation industry – representing the private sector (hoteliers, outfitters), quasi-public agencies (the six destination marketing organizations at the regional level within Montana); and agencies managing public lands used for tourism -answered a brief questionnaire designed to understand what they felt tourism should sustain and what we be useful indicators of that. The results indicated that the highest priority items generally dealt with important social goals – economic opportunity, protection of quality of life – but indicators selected did not directly reflect those goals. There is an apparent disconnect between the two.

By Stephen F. McCool
School of Forestry
The University of Montana
Missoula, Montana

Download the full report here . Keywords: sustainable tourism, indicators

This article is quoted from the Tourism ROI Newsletter published on 2010-04.01.

This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Best practice, Development, Education and qualification, Performance and management, Sustainability.

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