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Connecting the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach and Tourism: A Review of the Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2012

Fujun Shen*
Lincoln University, New Zealand.
Kenneth F.D. Hughey
Lincoln University, New Zealand.
David G. Simmons
Lincoln University, New Zealand.
*Fujun Shen, Environment, Society & Design Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury 7647, New Zealand.
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Tourism has been increasingly used for, and directly linked with, rural poverty reduction in developing countries. However, the application, and to an extent the principles, of the widely used organising framework for considering poverty reduction, the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA), may not fit fully the tourism situation, and vice versa. Based on a review of the literature we first suggest that sustainable livelihoods for tourism should be viewed in a broader tourism context, rather than merely taking tourism as a development tool. Second, the SLA seeks household livelihood sustainability at the individual or household level, while tourism sustainability is often applied to the industry and destinations at wider, more macro level scales. Thus, a reconciliation of the tensions and opportunities between the SLA and tourism needs to be found. Third, tourism research has demonstrated local residents' increasing concern about participation in political governance associated with tourism development, with less participation jeopardising local people's assets from a livelihood perspective. Therefore, an additional concept of institutional asset (mainly community participation) needs to be incorporated within the SLA. Given the above understandings, a sustainable tourism livelihood was defined and a Sustainable Tourism Livelihoods Approach (STLA) is proposed. The potential applications of the STLA are discussed and future research is recommended.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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