Sustainable Tourism is an Oxymoron of Economic, Social and Environmental Aspects
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Sustainable Tourism is an Oxymoron of Economic, Social and Environmental Aspects


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  1. A recent ABC News article headlined 'Australia to provide funding to help Indonesia boost  tourism, create 10 new Balis' ( funding-to-help-indonesia-boost-tourism/8717926) describes an aspiration for expanding 'Bali  style' tourism development across Indonesia. Referring to key dimensions of sustainability (e.g.  environmental, socio-cultural and economic) and concepts of sustainability thinking (e.g.  systems thinking, resilience, diversification, localisation), critically discuss key strengths and  weaknesses of current tourism in Bali to advise decision-makers on how to improve on the Bali  'model'
  2. Tourism is a major contributor to climate change, particularly through its travel/transport  component. Yeoman (2008, p. 317) posed the scenario: 'What if governments banned tourism  in 2030 because it was deemed immoral, dangerous and bad for the environment?' ( In this context, critically evaluate whether  humanity can continue to sustain tourism as a valid activity in light of climate change. If so,  elaborate on how tourism can and needs to evolve in a world with finite resources. If not,  explore the implications to society and the economy of tourism no longer occurring. Support  your argument with relevant literature and data. 
  3. With reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, critically examine the  potential of tourism to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. Explore ethical considerations,  characteristics in the style and type of favourable tourism approaches and draw on international  examples and data to illustrate your argument.
  4. Some authors have claimed that 'sustainable tourism' is an oxymoron (a contradiction in  terms). Critically discuss the key reasons behind this argument and whether the concept of  'sustainability' is still relevant in 2018. 
  5. In many places around the world, local communities have expressed antagonism towards  tourists and/or tourism. Using specific examples, identify the causes of such community  backlash and suggest actions which might lead to a better relationship with local people. 
  6. In 2007, du Cros (p. 225) stated that 'World Heritage Sites are popular and primary attractions  for a destination for many reasons'. Using specific case studies around the world, critically  review the benefits and challenges of tourism visitation to World Heritage areas and examine  whether the above statement still holds in 2018.


Though sustainable development is a widely accepted concept, conflict of interests arises over time and space resulting in a challenging resolution (Dangi & Jamal 2016). This is clearly evident in the tourism industry. Tourism is an economic activity which intertwines across several industries and stakeholder interest. It is because the relationship between tourism development, socio-economic development and the environment is globular and collective. There is growing observation that most tourism activities pressurize the environmental resources upon which it is based (Korstanje & George 2012). This has a compromising effect on the current and future interests of tourists and destination populations and tourism organizations. The potential for development is undermined without the presence of sufficient environmental protection. This has given rise to the requirement to construct positive reinforcements between the environment and tourism and remove negative effects. Overcoming negative aspects of sustainable tourism is highly unlikely due to the occurrence of conflict of interests (Russo 2002). The positive effects of tourism are win-win scenarios in which both environment and the destination received benefits. To fend off the negative effects, trade-offs are to be created between conservation and development goals.


The year 2017 was professed as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations (UNWTO 2016). According to the UN, tourism, is one of the major growth sectors in recent times with the ability to catalyse economic development, job creation and provide business opportunities that assist in improving the social well-being of the local community and improve their livelihoods (UNCTAD 2013). However, tourism is not without its challenges. Several factors question the credibility of the sustainable tourism which contradicts its definition resulting in a oxymoronic situation. First is the ecological impact of tourism especially, carbon emissions from transport and the deteriorating pristine wilderness. Second is the cultural impact giving rise to the question whether tourists are able to gain a practical understanding of a new country and its people (Sunlu 2003). In terms of economic benefits, questions linger as to whether the local products are procured by the tourism operators or the land was bought under coercive circumstances for tourism development (Kilipiris 2005).

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