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Sustainable Tourism Indicators

Call for Papers

Abstract Deadline: 31 October 2019

Guest Editors

Professor Graham Miller, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)

Dr. Anna Torres-Delgado, CETT-University of Barcelona (Spain)


Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Journal of Sustainable Tourism publishes theoretical, conceptual and empirical research that explores one or more of the economic, social, cultural, political, organisational or environmental aspects of the subject.

Language: en-US

Publisher: tandf

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Sustainability has emerged as a force in the tourism industry, offering new directions and values for public policy and standing as a major condition for competitiveness of destinations. Several institutional initiatives have been developed in this respect, helping to extend the paradigm of sustainability as a general feature of contemporary tourism. Since sustainability is an aim for tourism development, having indicators that can measure the impact of tourism has become a must. In fact, the pursuit of sustainable tourism is meaningless without monitoring tools that can inform us about the impacts of tourism and determine whether they are acceptable or not. As such, the development of indicators is fundamental to both the research and the practice of sustainable tourism development.

Indicators should be a key mechanism through which we understand the limits and opportunities for the tourism industry. Their contribution to decision-making processes related to planning and public management derives from their ability to describe and measure the reality of a specific area in terms of objective parameters, thus facilitating understanding of a particular territory and the elements and processes that take place there. In full awareness of the utility of this tool, the UNWTO has developed a range of projects to support the development of sustainable tourism indicators, especially in the context of developing guidance for planners and policy makers. In Europe, the European Commission launched the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS), a specific set of indicators to monitor and measure the sustainable tourism performance of destinations.

Sets of indicators have typically been developed, and adopted for managing destinations, given that their methodological simplicity enables specific impacts to be detected and practical solutions to be applied. However, indices have also become increasingly popular, as they provide a global and integrated understanding of the level of tourism sustainability and allow destinations to compare their performances. Although tourism indicators have been mainly applied to assess and monitor changes in national, regional or local economies and societies, other approaches cover indicators applied at the organisational level. Tourism enterprises are also an important component by which the benefits of tourism can be spread and the goals of sustainable development achieved.

Despite the importance of the subject to the advance of sustainable tourism, and the progress made to date there are still some considerable limitations and challenges to overcome if indicators are to develop to the point where they become a far more integrated part of the management of tourism. It is to these challenges that this special issue would like to address itself. Whilst we are keen to receive papers on a variety of topics around the subject, in particular we would like to focus the attention of authors on the following areas:

  • The role of future technologies to be incorporated into the measurement of the sustainability of the tourism industry. Do Smart cities and the Internet of Things offer an opportunity to capture greater volumes of data? How can machine learning assist with this process and be incorporated into day to day destination management?
  • How can indicator and measurement systems better be introduced and implemented into political decision-making. What limits the uses and how can this be overcome? Examples of managing conflicting stakeholder aims and perspectives.
  • What are the human capacity constraints on collecting, analysing and implementing indicators of sustainable tourism?
  • Examples of the business case for introducing indicator systems and where this has proven effective in reducing resource consumption and improving sustainability.
  • Creating a system that is both locally meaningful, but consistent with the global sustainability challenges.
  • Methodological challenges of measuring social and environmental aspects of tourism in a robust and useful way that can be easily managed and understood by non-technical stakeholders. Other methodological challenges such as access to data, blurred destination boundaries and assessment of sustainability limits.
  • Examples of development, implementation and assessment of indicator systems from across the world, and at different geographic scales. Critique of existing systems and identification of improvements required.
  • Indicators aimed at encouraging consumers to choose more sustainable destinations for their holiday, for businesses specifically to improve their performance and for communities to monitor the impacts that they feel directly.

Submission guidelines

Expressions of interest in contributing a paper to this special issue are invited in the form of a working title and 750 word abstract of your proposed paper by 31 October 2019, to be submitted by e-mail to Anna Torres at Anna.Torres@cett.cat.

Abstracts should include paper title, authorship, author affiliation(s) and contact information (including the email addresses of all authors) and keywords (maximum six). Full papers will be invited following a review of submitted abstracts. Authors will be notified of the outcome no later than 30 November 2019.

The deadline for the submission of full papers will be 30 June 2020, for publication in 2021. All submissions will be subject to the journal’s normal high standards of peer review. All accepted papers will be published online without delay, with print publication of the special issue to follow.