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University of Exeter Business School

Sustainable Tourism Management

Module titleSustainable Tourism Management
Module codeBEPM013
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Joanne Connell (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Tourism relies on the quality of the environment. Sustainable tourism is based on the premise of maximising the benefits and minimising the negative impacts of tourism activity on environments, local economies and livelihoods, and socio-cultural settings.

This module offers you an opportunity to develop a critical awareness of the theoretical and practical issues that influence how sustainable development principles are applied in tourism. You will develop critical insights into the contested relationships between tourists and the destinations they visit, the impacts of tourism and the positive responses in different environments to mitigate impacts and create new opportunities for sustainable and regenerative tourism. You will gain skills in developing sustainable strategic and operational solutions to destination issues.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module explores the applied aspects of sustainable tourism as an area of critical practice of sustainable business management. The focus of attention is on the destination as a concept that focuses on the interrelationships between people, place and space, and tourism activity and business. You will develop a detailed and critical awareness of the conceptual and practical issues that influence how the principles of sustainable development are applied in tourism destinations, and the associated challenges. The aims of the module are:

  • To critically evaluate the evolution of sustainable tourism and approaches to its definition, understanding and appropriation in global and local contexts.
  • To investigate the impacts of tourism activity in social, environmental, economic and cultural dimensions across a range of vulnerable environments and issues for tourism development, planning and management.
  • To explore innovative forms of management and marketing that promote sustainable and regenerative approaches to tourism management and tourist activity alongside an appreciation of the challenges of implementation.
  • To develop a research-based inquiry approach and a strategic understanding of the complexity of managing sustainable tourism in a destination.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Produce a research and problem-based strategy that guides the development of sustainable tourism in a specific destination
  • 2. Create sustainable tourism indicators to measure progress towards strategic objectives

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Assess the multiple connections between tourism stakeholders and the application of sustainable practice in tourism planning and management processes
  • 4. Critically evaluate the impacts of tourism on people and places.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate outstanding communication skills through oral and written work
  • 6. Exemplify a high level of independence and creative thought in producing sustainable solutions

Syllabus plan

The module will cover, but is not to be limited to, the following themes:

Exploring the evolution and dimensions of sustainable tourism

  • Review of the evolution of sustainable tourism: from mass tourism through to regenerative tourism.
  • Approaches to defining and conceptualising sustainable tourism and critiques of differing theoretical positions, including ecotourism, community tourism, pro-poor tourism, responsible tourism and sustainable tourism.
  • The global environmental and policy context of sustainable tourism, including the climate emergency and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Justice, ethics, inclusivity and accessibility.
  • Tourism and wellbeing as part of the sustainability agenda.
  • Future scenarios for tourism as an industry, an activity and part of a wider visitor economy.

Managing vulnerable and critical tourism environments

  • The concept of the destination – people, place and business relationships.
  • The consequences for managing tourism across a range of environments in industrialised nations and the Global South.
  • Fact or fiction? Understanding how impacts are researched, perceived and reported. Contested views on impacts and approaches to management, adaptation and mitigation.
  • Thematic issues for tourism development, planning and management, including safeguarding heritage, sacred sites and World Heritage Sites, management of wildlife and biodiversity, protection of coastal and marine environments, landscape and greenspace protection, empowering local communities and last chance tourism.

Innovation for sustainable tourism

  • Principles and practical applications of sustainable tourism in destinations, including an appreciation of common practices in tourism businesses, including accommodation, visitor attractions and tourist transport.
  • Changing mass tourism business models – conceptualising unsustainable mass tourism.
  • Innovation in sustainable tourism practice
  • Communicating tourism impacts and changing people’s perception and behaviour, including social media use and misuse.
  • The interplay of stakeholders and conflicting interests, including community interests and responses: challenges and opportunities.

The development of sustainable tourism strategy and action plans.

  • Creation of strategies to guide sustainable tourism: processes and practices.
  • Best practice in shaping sustainable tourism strategies and the policy environment that underpins tourism as a distinct area of government and local government intervention.
  • Development of indicators to guide monitoring of sustainable tourism.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities12Lecturer-led session with key content
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities8To explore a local case of strategic sustainable tourism management
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities6Student-led sessions and formative coursework presentations
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities2Student-led sessions and formative coursework presentations
Guided independent study122Reading, research and assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation on initial work for destination report15 minutes1-6Verbal and peer review in class
Vlog post discussions in class5-minute overview3-6Verbal and peer review in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Vlog post presented in class and written reflection201x5 minutes vlog and 500 word reflection3-6Peer verbal feedback on vlog, staff written feedback
Field trip reflections10Workbook 4Written
Destination project703500-word report1-6Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Vlog post presented in class and reflectionPre-recorded vlog post and reflection3-6Referral/deferral period
Field trip reflectionsReflections on a case study4Referral/deferral period
Destination projectDestination project1-6Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you have been deferred for any assessment you will be expected to submit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bellato, L., Frantzeskaki, N., & Nygaard, C.A., (2022). Regenerative Tourism: A Conceptual Framework Leveraging Theory and Practice. Tourism Geographies, 1-21.
  • Coghlan, A. (2019). Introduction to Sustainable Tourism, Oxford: Goodfellow.
  • Edgell, D. (2019). Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future, 3rd edition, London: Routledge.
  • Holden, A. (2016). Environment and Tourism, 3rd edition, London: Routledge.
  • Hall, C.M., Gossling, S. & Scott, D., (2015). The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Sustainability, London: Routledge. 22).
  • Legrand, W., Chen, J.S. & Laeis, G.C.M., (2022) Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Principles of Sustainable Operations. London: Taylor and Francis.
  • Page, S.J. & Connell, J., (2020). Tourism: A Modern Synthesis. 5th edition, London: Routledge.
  • Sharpley, R. (2020). Tourism, Sustainable Development and the Theoretical Divide: 20 Years On. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 28(11), 1932-1946.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • The Library has useful Subject Guides to explore online, see the Tourism Management Subject Guide at:

Key words search

Sustainable Tourism; eco-tourism; destination management; responsible tourism; SDGs; visitor economy; 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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