Exploring the antecedents of sustainable tourism development

Niall MacKenzie, Martin Joseph Gannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


We use two historical case studies (UK and Costa Rica) to explore the antecedents and legitimization of sustainable development in hospitality and tourism, demonstrating the value of historical analysis through careful consideration of motivations, context, and development type under different circumstances.
Utilizing government and private archival materials, oral history testimonies, industry reports and secondary literature, we deploy careful historical analysis of developing and developed country approaches to two cases of hospitality and tourism development and how this impacts on notions of sustainability.
Issues surrounding sustainability in hospitality and tourism are longstanding and impacted by their situated context. In considering 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' approaches, this study finds that the private-sector is critical in legitimizing tourism and hospitality development through addressing sustainability aims.
Research Implications:
Issues faced in developing hospitality and tourism markets should not be taken in isolation and, by drawing upon historical cases, scholars can better-understand how developed tourism markets shape the sustainability of developing contexts.
Practical Implications:
This study demonstrates how sustainability can be legitimized over time and in different contexts, in both government-led and business-led approaches, providing lessons for understanding the mechanisms by which to address these issues in future.
Historical analyses in hospitality and tourism remain relatively few. This study illustrates the theoretical and practical value of historical analysis of the pathway to legitimacy for sustainable tourism development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Aug 2018


  • networks
  • Entrepreneurship
  • ecotourism
  • government-business relations


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