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27700 Sustainable Tourism

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2018 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business: Management
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject aims to develop an awareness of significant contemporary issues arising from tourism's impacts on its economic, natural/ecological, social and cultural environments. It explores appropriate policy, planning and management responses to these issues, encapsulated in the pursuit of sustainable tourism. It critically examines a range of broad tourism industry responses, individual enterprise initiatives and forms of government intervention designed to achieve more sustainable tourism. The need to be mindful of tourism's impacts and the pursuit of sustainability are significant parts of the context in which contemporary tourism as a whole, and specific firms within it, operate.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. Discuss the relationship between tourism and its environmental resource base
2. Discuss the significance of tourismís impacts on the natural/ecological, social, cultural and economic environments and how these affect its sustainability
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the varying perspectives on, and interpretations of, the concept of sustainable tourism
4. Demonstrate an awareness of contemporary environmental issues which arise from tourism in Australia and internationally, and an ability to critically examine those issues
5. Describe and critically evaluate planning and management strategies, policies and industry practices designed to mitigate or control the impacts of tourism on its environments and thus produce more sustainable outcomes

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following program learning objectives:

  • critically evaluate and apply sustainability principles to decisions in business contexts (4.2)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Sustainability is a strong theme in contemporary tourism management. This subject engages students in the practical application of existing theories of sustainable tourism and examines both the issues which underlie it and various policy and management practices which can be used to pursue it. Issues are discussed which are relevant to the management and development of tourist destinations as well as individual enterprises and the environmental and cultural resources that provide the attraction base for tourism, such as national parks and heritage sites. The theoretical knowledge and its application will be illustrated through a variety of case studies from around the world.

This subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attribute:

  • Attitudes and values

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject will be taught by using a combination of lectures, class and online discussions of set tasks and prescribed readings, audio-visual presentations, and student presentations based on their assignments. Lecture notes and other course material will be made available to students on UTSOnline.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction: broad concept of sustainability, factors which influence it, and significance for tourism
  • Tourism-environment relationships: natural/ecological, economic, social and cultural
  • Review of tourism’s environmental impacts and implications for management
  • The concept of sustainable tourism: definitions; varying interpretations of sustainable tourism and implications for management; the ‘triple bottom line’; and key issues in sustainable development of tourism
  • The need for sustainable management of tourism: short-sightedness and the problems of the ‘commons’ in tourism; sources of market failure in tourism; models of tourism development over time, e.g. destination life cycle
  • Sustainable tourism management issues in different contexts: protected natural areas and fragile environments; cultural heritage sites; coastal resorts; fragile communities and indigenous cultures; and developing countries
  • Tourism and climate change – implications and industry/policy responses
  • Impact management methods and models: carrying capacity; limits of acceptable change; visitor impact management and other adaptive management methods; environmental impact assessment; environmental auditing and environmental management systems
  • Government intervention versus self-regulation of tourism: tourism industry’s recognition of environmental issues; factors influencing industry action
  • Government policies for the sustainable management of tourism: policy and regulatory mechanisms; the role of environmental/land use planning; overview of the environmental planning process and mechanisms for enhancing sustainability of tourism


Assessment task 1: Essay (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2 and 3

Weight: 40%

Assessment task 2: Project (Group)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

4 and 5

Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Exam (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This addresses program learning objectives(s):


Weight: 30%

Minimum requirements

Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks.

Recommended texts

Wearing S. L. and Neil, J. 2nd Edition (2009) Ecotourism: impacts, potential and possibilities. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Copies are available in library or you can buy an electronic copy - you will need to use it for your assessment tasks but it is recommended not essential that you purchase it as long as you have access to a copy


  1. Holden, A. (2008) Environment and Tourism, Routledge, London, 2nd Edition.
  2. Goodwin. H. (2011) Taking Responsibility for Tourism: Responsible Tourism Management. Oxford: Goodfellow.
  3. Benckendorff, P. & Lund-Durlacher, D. (2013) International Cases in Sustainable Travel and Tourism. Oxford: Goodfellow.
  4. Lozano-Oyola, M., Blancas, F.J., González, M. & Caballero, R. (2012) Sustainable tourism indicators as planning tools in cultural destinations. Ecological Indicators, 18, 659-675.
  5. Mowforth, M. & Munt, I. (3rd Ed) (2009). Tourism and Sustainability: Development and New Tourism in the Third World. London: Routledge.
  6. Leslie, D. (2012) Responsible Tourism: Concepts, Theory and Practice . Wallingford: CABI.

Other resources


Discussion of environmental issues and the consequences for sustainability has dominated the tourism journals in recent years. Journal articles should be used extensively for the assignments, especially the essay.

The most relevant journal is the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, which focuses on the main concepts and issues associated with this subject. Other useful journals available through the UTS library include:

Annals of Tourism Research

Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research

Current Issues in Tourism

International Journal of Tourism Research

International Journal of Tourism Sciences

Journal of Tourism Studies

Journal of Travel Research

Tourism, Culture & Communication

Tourism Economics

Tourism Geographies

Tourism Management

Most of these journals are available electronically via the UTS Library catalogue.


There are a number of websites that may contain useful information for this subject, including:

Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel (BEST):

Ecotourism Australia:

Ecotourism at Conservation International:

Green Globe:

Green Hotels Association:

International Centre for Responsible Tourism:

International Ecotourism Society:

Partners in Responsible Travel:

National Geographic Centre for Sustainable Destinations:

Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre:

Tourism Concern:

Tourism Partnership:

Urbo: Web Portal on Managing World Heritage Cities:

United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO): or

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC):