Exploring the antecedents of sustainable tourism development

Niall Gordon MacKenzie, M.J. Gannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors use two historical case studies (UK and Costa Rica) to explore the antecedents and legitimisation 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.

Using government and private archival materials, oral history testimonies, industry reports and secondary literature, the authors 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 legitimising tourism and hospitality development through addressing sustainability aims.

Research limitations/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 legitimised 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)2411-2427
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019


  • history
  • ecotourism
  • entrepreneurship
  • networks
  • Government-business relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the antecedents of sustainable tourism development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this