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A thematic analysis of sustainable tourism and the triple bottom line

Hughes, M. and Carlsen, J. (2007) A thematic analysis of sustainable tourism and the triple bottom line. In: Proceedings of the BEST EN Think Tank VII: Innovations for Sustainable Tourism, 21 - 24 June, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA


The relationship between the themes in sustainable tourism publications and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) was explored in this article. A categorised list of 3719 sustainable tourism articles was thematically analysed to determine the content focus and how it related to the TBL. Text searches were conducted using standardised search terms matching individual articles with particular topics using the NUD*ist 6 software. A relational node tree was constructed using the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability to further categorise the literature. This enabled analysis of articles that addressed various combinations of sustainable tourism themes. The sustainable tourism literature was found to be dominated by a social and environmental focus with relatively lower occurrences of economic issues. A significant proportion of the literature focussed specifically on social or environmental topics while economics was mostly discussed in conjunction with social issues. Most cross-disciplinary focus occurred between social and either environmental or economics topics. A chronological analysis demonstrated a changing focus of tourism research in relation to sustainability over the twenty year period. This enables understanding of the character of the sustainable tourism literature and where potential strengths and gaps in knowledge may lie.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
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