The unrecognized threat to tourism. Can tourism survive 'sustainability'?

Robert Douglas McKercher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Sustaining the resource base on which tourism depends must be the central focus of any discussion surrounding sustainable tourism development. To date, this debate has focused narrowly on controlling the adverse impacts of tourism development itself. Yet, the applications of the conflicting interpretations of sustainable development and ecologically sustainable development may pose an even greater threat to the future of tourism, especially outside urban areas. Two specific sources of external threat are discussed in this paper: (1) economically sustainable development being used by other commercial interests as a tool to justify the introduction of incompatible urban/ industrial activities into tourism areas that cause the degradation of the tourism resource base, and (2) ecologically sustainable development being used as a means of justifying the implementation of pernicious public land management policies that effectively restrict tourism access to and use of public lands. The paper argues that the sustainable tourism debate must be broadened to recognize the role that non-tourism entities play in determining the future of sustainable tourism development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
JournalTourism Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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