Tourism for Sustainable Development: Role of Local Communities in Tourism-Development Nexus

Authors: Jarkko Saarinen*, University of Oulu
Topics: Tourism Geography, Development, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals, tourism policies, participation, communities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Tourism has a potential to provide major benefits to its destination regions. Especially the idea of sustainable tourism has created great expectations. In this respect the key question is how the industry could serve wider and more profound developmental needs than tourism alone in destination societies. The United Nations International Year 2017 of “Sustainable Tourism for Development”, for example, identified the specific Sustainable Development Goals of 8 (‘decent work and economic growth’), 12 (‘responsible consumption and production’), and 14 (‘life below water’) as the ones the tourism industry could contribute. One of the cornerstones of sustainable tourism thinking is the community connection: the integration of local communities in development via tourism production and consumption. This is thought to be processed by an encouragement of local participation and entrepreneurship in tourism. There are many models and positive examples how tourism benefits local communities. While there are possibilities, however, there are also challenges and many contextual issues influencing the capacity of tourism to work with wider societal development goals and human wellbeing in destination societies and communities. In addition, the core elements and ideas of sustainability may often characterize policy discourses and planning rhetoric rather than the practices when we are ‘doing development’. This paper overviews recent global policy discourses on sustainable tourism and development with specific focus on the relationships between tourism, development and communities. The practices of ‘doing development’ are discussed and analyzed via case examples from southern Africa.

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