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Volume 29
Number 1
Spring-Summer 2012
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Diagram demonstrating the nexus among social, environmental, and economic considerations that make up sustainable tourism. Mitigating encroachment of park experiences
Sustainable tourism in gateway communities
By Desmond Lee and Dean Reeder
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Definition and principles
Park experience encroachment
Tourism as an economic driver
Three strategies for park managers
About the authors
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The National Park Service’s obligation to balance visitor use and enjoyment of parks with resource preservation, along with the overarching need to maintain relevance with the American public, gives credence to a concept known as sustainable tourism. Holistic in nature, sustainable tourism is an approach to tourism development that fosters deliberate and strategic regard for the social, natural, and economic environments of a community (including the park). Park managers may use and encourage sustainable tourism principles to safeguard resources while enhancing the marketability of the destination’s cultural and natural characteristics.

This article provides park managers with a comprehensive definition of sustainable tourism and key principles that differentiate this approach from that of unsustainable (mass) tourism. Given that park gateway communities—particularly in rural areas—increasingly look to tourism to enhance their economic potential, parks are exposed to threats: gateway communities that demonstrate unsustainable characteristics can dilute both the NPS brand and visitor experiences in parks. This justifies a mutually beneficial approach: sustainable tourism. Using sustainable tourism principles and the management and marketing tools derived from them, park managers will be better equipped to provide education and leadership to tourism partners.

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This page updated:  10 September 2012

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