Sustainable Tourism
Tim Forsyth

Seminar Introduction

imageTourism is the world's largest industry. Over the twentieth century, it has proved itself a destructive force. Coastlines have been transformed from still, sleepy beauty spots to over-developed resorts crowded by multi-storey hotels, bars and casinos. When fashions and tastes change, these areas are left to decline as the mass tourists head elsewhere. In other scenarios local communities have sometimes been displaced, as the powerful drives for development and preservation of natural national parks have in equal measure ignored their rights. Despite all this, tourism is a largely unregulated industry.

In this seminar, Tim Forsyth, lecturer in environment and development at the Geography and Environment department at the London School of Economics, explores the concept and practice of sustainable tourism. He argues that the best way to accommodate the inevitable increase in mass tourism is to encourage the practice of tourism and development as a positive experience for the local people, the tourism companies and the tourists themselves. Under sustainable tourism, the kind of {A145}boom and bust{A146} cycle that led to the rapid growth and then despoliation of locations such as the East Coast of Spain in the 1970s is far less likely.

In session one, Forsyth explains that sustainable tourism is often mistaken for "eco-tourism," which focuses exclusively on the exploration of wildlife, nature or "exotic" cultures. However, such tourism can also be damaging for environments and communities--for example, safaris in Kenya, which undoubtedly qualify as a type of eco-tourism, can force wildlife into unnatural behaviour. In session two, Forsyth examines the impact of tourism on agricultural practices in Thailand. In sessions three and four, which is derived from an interview conducted with Forsyth, it is argued that sustainable tourism is about the negotiation between tourism companies, local governments and communities in an effort to improve the impact of all types of tourism.

  • Session 1 What is Sustainable Tourism?
  • Session 2 Sustaining Thailand: Agriculture and Tourism
  • Session 3 Regulating Tourism: Sustainability in the Free Market
  • Session 4 The Impact of Tourism
Learning Objectives:
  • Acquire an understanding of sustainable tourism and it's aims.
  • Analyse the relationship between tourism and agriculture and how this impacts local communities in Thailand, in particular.
  • Summarise arguments for and against voluntary regulation of tourism.
  • Explain how tourism can act as a destructive force. Describe some of the measures taken by governments and NGO's to combat the mass-impact of tourism.

To appreciate this seminar experience, it is critical that you have the appropriate plug-ins. Please take the time to download the latest versions of the plug-ins mentioned below if you do not already have them.

Plug-ins: If you do not have RealPlayer and Flash Player already installed, please download them from the following sites:

Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science.