Inderscience Publishers

A synthesis of activity towards the implementation of sustainable tourism: ecotourism in a different context

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Not all sustainable tourism is ecotourism. Indeed, this paper argues that no form of tourism has achieved sustainability, and that sustainability is a goal that all tourism should strive towards. Tourism is a very fragmented industry, incorporating large organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises, and it is this diversity, alongside the diversity of stakeholder interest, that has given rise to a wide range of different types of sustainable tourism initiative. The split between large- and small-scale forms of tourism has also resulted in separate interpretations of the meaning of sustainable development for tourism; this paper is arguably skewed towards the large-scale translation. The paper seeks to position ecotourism within the overall context of activity construed as implementing the current knowledge of sustainable tourism. Major types of initiative found in the tourism industry today include codes of conduct, ecolabels, environmental management systems, environmental award schemes and the search for environmental indicators. Issues worthy of debate include the merits of self-regulation versus legislation, the creation of partnerships across the private and public sectors, and the role of marketing in implementing sustainability. Ecotourism is placed in the context of this overview of activity towards sustainable tourism development, and the paper synthesises the evidence into a "wheel of action" that serves to structure the argument.

Keywords: ecotourism, implementation of sustainable tourism, sustainable tourism

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