Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Governance for Sustainable Tourism: A Review and Directions for Future Research

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Governance for Sustainable Tourism: A Review and Directions for Future Research

Article excerpt


Tourism, governance and sustainable development embody three multifaceted and composite domains of knowledge that raise numerous important questions and concerns when combined. In the tourism literature more established terms and activities related to tourism politics, policy, policy-making and planning, and destination management (Bramwell and Lane, 2011) have thus far allowed investigators to have a relatively coherent set of scientific knowledge. Because sometimes these terms overlap with governance (e.g. political agenda and debate) this enables them to contribute to continued progress in several sub-fields, in which social science literature on governance can make an important contribution. But still further efforts should be made in order to improve the quality and diversity of scientific studies, based on appropriate theoretical approaches and on empirical studies. Despite some cases of success around the world, there is a general consensus among researchers that sustainable development of tourism is complex and problematic and it is still far from achieving the desired key-principles and aims into practice (Hunter, 1997; Ko, 2005; Liu, 2003; McDonald, 2009). The journey towards achieving sustainability goals stills goes on. Tourism is a global phenomenon that is shaped locally; in these two limits, and between them, much work remains to be done. New forms of relationships between state, economic interests and civil society are imperative to face global challenges and governance seems to have the capacity to referee this approach. According to Bramwell (2011:461) "destinations wanting to promote sustainable tourism are more likely to be successful when there is effective governance".

Proper framework of governance seems to be in the forefront of the initiatives to overcome the global problems and challenges posed by sustainable development. Very recently, the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development underlined that human societies still continue to bring about irreversible impacts on the earth system and clearly advocate that reform of current governance for global sustainability is urgent. Also the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advocates that "good governance practices can help to facilitate an integrated, whole-of-government approach to tourism (...); effective governance practices must reflect the changing business and policy environment" (OECD, 2012:9).

A research to perceive how far governance approach has been applied to the development of sustainable tourism would be of great importance. Fundamental theoretical issues related to governance philosophy present a very broad scope for analysis. Approaching governance literature calls for a wider overview of the various governance concepts, the different disciplinary approaches to governance, the scope of governance theory, and the challenges associated with specific practical areas of governance. Otherwise, it would be more difficult to understand why several authors (e.g. Grindle, 2007; Hall, 2005 and 2008; Jessop, 1998; Paavola, Gouldson and Kluvánková-Oravská, 2009; Rhodes, 1996; Stoker, 1998; Sumner, 2008; Windsor, 2009) argue that governance issues are thorny, complex, diversified, diffuse and sometimes contradictory.

This study aims to present and discuss some core theoretical issues related to governance and sustainable tourism, such as concepts, dimensions, scale and methodological discourse, which are expressed in some articles published in this specific field. Taking as a reference the work already done by Lu and Nepal (2009), about sustainable tourism research, the perspective of how governance has been approached to improve the development of sustainable tourism was prioritised in this research. To meet the objectives, a literature review was made.


This paper examines conceptual and empirical articles about governance in the context of sustainable tourism. In order to identify the units of analysis - scientific articles - research was carried out in the Scopus database. …

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