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27700 Sustainable Tourism

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular semester, 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 2015 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 objectives

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

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

  • research and critically analyse and apply complex theoretical concepts underpinning industry and social perspectives on tourism management practice (1.1)
  • critically evaluate data & resources from the relevant academic literature to apply creative thinking to address complex issues in tourism management practice (2.1)
  • use high quality written and oral communication skills to interact effectively with others in order to work towards a common outcome (3.1)
  • apply technical skills necessary for professional practice in tourism management (5.1)

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.

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.


  • 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

This addresses program learning objectives(s):

1.1 and 2.1

Weight: 40

Assessment task 2: Project (Group)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

4 and 5

This addresses program learning objectives(s):

1.1, 2.1, 3.1 and 5.1

Weight: 30

Assessment task 3: Exam (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Weight: 30

Minimum requirements

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

Recommended texts

Leslie, D. (2012) Responsible Tourism: Concepts, Theory and Practice . Wallingford: CABI.


  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.