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Sustainability in Tourism Unit
Unit Definition & Teaching Schedule
1. The Nature of Sustainability
• Ethics & morality (and relationship to the law, regulation & self regulation)
• Individual & socio-cultural context
• Absolutism v relativism
2. Diffusion & Adoption of ‘Innovations’ (such as Sustainability)
• Diffusion: message; media; influencers
• Adoption: comparative advantage (at the level of the individual / organisation)
3. The ‘Origins’ of Sustainability
• Scale/ rate of growth of resource use / depletion.
• Measurement of impacts & causal links (health / environment etc)
• Message: need to change the terms of trade / slow development / compensate
• ‘Gaia’ theory (Lovelock) – ‘Managed Retreat’ rather than Sustainable Growth
• Al Gore: ‘An Inconvenient Truth’
• Monbiot, George: 'Heat'
4. Take-up of the Modern Message of Sustainability (generally)
• Diffusion & Definitions:
• Pressure groups / Science / Academics
• World community (World Commission on Env & Devmt.)
• National / Regional / Local / Organisational
• Public / Private / Voluntary sector
• Information / education / society / professional & peer groups
• The Fair Trade movement
• Receiving the message (recipients & perceptions)
• Developed world
• Less-Developed World
• Decoding the message (recipients & perceptions)
• Developed world
• Less-Developed World
• Response to the message
• Some ethical trading (genuine)
• Some ‘cosmethics’
4. Take-up of the Modern Message of Sustainability (Contd.)
• Inhibitors of Take-Up:
• Role of profit and price in capitalist / Western societies
• Willingness to bear the cost?
• Lack of ‘critical mass’ (to reduce cost)
• (In)consistency of message
• 3rd world priorities (v 1st world)
• Difficulty of ‘enforcing’ ethics.
5. The Tourism Industry Context
• The classic modern Tourism Development Model:
• Low-cost driven
• Western led (values & resources)
• Homogenisation / western hegemony (socio-cultural)
• Lack of community empowerment / (genuine) involvement
• Environmental impact (natural)
• Economic impacts
• limited sharing of local benefits
• local costs
• Irreversible over-development
• Lack of ‘policing’
• The scale of the problem
• Present global tourism volumes
• WTO forecasts
• Problem contradiction: massive demand growth-v-need to slow down growth and
6. The Tourism Industry & Sustainability to date.
• Definitions & Principles of Sustainable Tourism:
• Are they feasible / viable?
• Confusions in terminology (Sustainable, Alternative, Eco, Green, Pro-Poor,
• Local Agenda 21
• WTO Code of Ethics for Tourism
• EU & NTO approaches
• Case illustrations: (inter alia)
• British Airways ‘Tourism of Tomorrow Awards’ projects
• Eco-Tourism labelling (Costa Rica)
• Pro-Poor Tourism Projects etc
• Green Globe
7. Tourism Industry: An Analysis of Sustainability Progress to date.
• Principally small scale projects
• Temptation to ‘grow’ sustainable projects beyond carrying capacities
• Some green veneer / cosmethics marketing
• Impossibility of translating the mass market into small scale / low density model
• The ironic ‘sustainable value’ of high density resort development
• ISO sustainability standards
• Sustainable and sustainable tourism brands, logos, certification and labelling schemes
8. The way forward: ‘carrots & sticks’ in short/medium/long term
• Accept the mass model will not change overnight & consider strategies to improve
sustainability within the current supply side (subsidies / regulation & enforcement /
information & education)
• Information and education of current & future tourists and hosts
LPHT Sustainable Tourism Teaching Schedule
Introduction. Introduction to unit, resources, assessment.
The Nature of Sustainability: moral and ethical context.
Coursework Assignments set.
1 The ‘Origins’ of Sustainability
Micro Assignment Tutor Consultation
Macro Assignment Brainstorm & Progress Report
2 Diffusion & Adoption of ‘Innovations’ and the ‘take-up’ of the modern
concept of sustainability’ in society and business.
3 The Sustainable Tourism context.
4 The record of Tourism on Sustainability
5 Where do we go from here?
Macro Assignment Presentations: Assessed
These broad titles represent and reflect the 8 topic areas identified in the Unit Description.
Coursework Assignment Outline
In this unit you will have TWO pieces of assessed coursework, weighted as follows:
60% Assignment 1 Individual Written ‘Micro’
40% Assignment 2 Team Presentational ‘Macro’
Assignment 1 Can the world afford me?
Do I think 'Sustainability' when I think 'Tourism'?
"I may be beginning to think sustainably in my home life when it comes to switching off
lights and recycling paper, glass and plastic; but when I think about choosing a holiday,
sustainability, frankly, just does not enter into it as a consideration. I suppose this is
because holidays are an escape from the cares of the day-to-day. If I'm honest I choose
my Tourism destination, transport and accommodation on the basis of value for money,
attractiveness, speed and personal convenience. My choices are not influenced by the
planet's carrying capacity at all – if we were so influenced, knowing, for example, the
massive pollution impact of air travel, no-one would ever fly, and that would be the end of
the Tourism industry." A.Typical-Tourist (2009)
NOW: Candidly analyse and evaluate yourself and your personal beliefs, attitudes and
actions in respect of your general consumption and, more specifically, in relation to
your Tourism choices. To what extent does the above quotation apply to you.? What
will it take for you to make Tourism choices which lie (as the World Commission on
Environment and Development put it) 'within the planet's ecological means'?
Nature Individual. Written.
Date set: Wednesday 15th Sept
Date due: Wednesday 15th Dec (to be handed to Tutor in class).
Limit: 2000 Words Maximum
Format: Report or Essay (as you consider most appropriate).
Language: English or French. (NB. No penalties for errors in English as long as
your meaning is abundantly clear and I don’t have to guess at your
Assignment 2 Sustainable Tourism TaskForce.
CONTEXT. (NB. I have made this up.... but something like this has to be going on
somewhere soon.... it could even be the subject of an EU programme if one drew in other
partners in other EU states!).........
The Minister for Sustainability, the Minister with responsibility for Tourism, the Nicholas
Hulot Foundation and regional/local government & Tourism authorities in Alsace have
joined forces and resources to develop a pilot project in Alsace, a Tourism Sustainability
TaskForce to make Tourism consumers think and act more sustainably and Tourism
suppliers operate more sustainably across all Tourism sub-sectors.
This is NOT designed primarily to develop tent-based, low-impact eco-holidays in the
Vosges, but principally to make the existing Tourism operations and consumers that
we DO have act far more sustainably. This is not just about Tourism IN or TO
Alsace, but also involves natives leaving Alsace to holiday elsewhere. This is therefore
supply AND demand side and looking at immediate, short, medium and long term
actions. The partners envisage the development and implementation of a fully-integrated
Action Programme. [This view is predicated upon the perception that the small, niche,
green, responsible, market is being served by a small number of providers – the real
problem is with the mass market which appears largely untouched, unconcerned and
unchanging: A three-star business hotel in the middle of town cannot obviously suddenly
move to the countryside in log cabins with wood harvested from sustainable forests.... but
perhaps it can consider its energy use, insulation, purchasing, staff training, advice to
Your first task is thus to produce a 'Position Statement', clearly identifying the 'problem',
then to brainstorm up potential solutions and opportunities then crystallise them in the
form of an Action Programme which is clear and well-structured, identifying responsible
bodies and individuals and the timeframes within which the activities they are leading
should be delivered. Your client is effectively after a 'turn-key' product from you: you
show them to the 'door', give them the 'key' and all they have to do is turn it to find
everything ready and waiting to 'roll'. You will present this project Action Programme to
your client accompanied by a written report.
The partners commissioning this research then intend to approve, resource and implement
your Action Programme and to promote it as an example of 'Best Practice' which may be
'cloned' elsewhere in France and Europe.
Nature Group / Team. Written & Presented.
Date set: Wednesday Sept 15th
Date due: Thursday 12th Jan Presentation to client & report submitted.
Limit: 5000 Words Maximum
NB. This is a 'project' for the whole group, but you will need to divide up your resources into
teams. I will be assessing not just the oral presentation to client and the written report, but
also the brainstorming session(s) and your overall management of this project. Wherever
there is team or group work I expect broadly equal contributions from all individuals and will
moderate individual marks where attendance, commitment and participation is lacking.