Sustainable Tourism Theme

Theme lead: Dr Piotr Niewiadomski

While the tourism industry – or, should we say, the international tourism production system – has developed over the years to become one of the largest economic sectors in the world and the number of international tourist trips is constantly growing (in 2017 it reached the unprecedented level of 1.3 billion), the concerns over the environmental impacts which such significant developments are producing have also markedly increased. Meanwhile, it is essential to recognise that tourism has the enormous potential not only to foster economic development and reduce poverty but, rather than destroying the natural environment, also to significantly contribute to the ‘greening’ of the economy, while also becoming more sustainable in itself. Indeed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognises tourism as one of the ten key sectors in which green economy transitions should be pursued. Importantly, hopes are also pinned on tourism by the Sustainable Development Goals as a promising tool for sustainable development.

This theme explores the interdependencies between tourism evolution and sustainable development/green economy transitions in wider terms. It rests on the assumption that as much as tourism has the potential to contribute to green economy transitions, it also has much to gain from them. Although tourism is not usually deemed innovative, the novelty which green economy transitions rely upon are an important window on the changes that tourism requires to be more inclusive, equitable and sustainable in the long term. More specifically, the theme focuses on the following topics:

  • What is the role of tourism in green economy transitions and how do green economy transitions in tourism unfold?
  • What place-specific and historical factors mould the interdependencies between green economy transitions and tourism and how the spatial and temporal aspects of these interdependencies can best be researched?
  • How can green economy transitions in tourism and tourism-based green economy transitions foster the economic well-being of host communities and territories?
  • What is the role of novelty in green economy transitions in tourism and tourism-based green economy transitions?