Impacts of tourism on coastal areas

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Smith, Timothy F.
Elrick-Barr, Carmen E.
Thomsen, Dana C.
Celliers, Louis
Le Tissier, Martin
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Cambridge University Press
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The socioeconomics of the Anthropocene are exposing coastal regions to multiple pressures, including climate change hazards, resource degradation, urban development, and inequality. Tourism is often raised as either a panacea to, or exacerbator of, such threats to ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods. To better understand the impacts of tourism on coastal areas, Scopus and Web of Science databases were searched for the top-100 cited papers on coastal tourism. Web of Science suggested ‘highly cited’ papers were also included to allow for more recent high impact papers. Of the papers retrieved, forty-four focused on the impacts of tourism. Social/cultural and environmental impacts were viewed as mostly negative, while economic impacts were viewed as mostly positive but only of actual benefit to a few. In addition, when compared with recent whole-of-sector reviews and reports it was evident that coastal tourism is increasingly a global enterprise dominated by large corporations that leverage various interests across local to transnational scales. Through this global enterprise, even the positive economic benefits identified were overshadowed by a broader system of land and property development fuelling local wealth inequity and furthering the interests of offshore beneficiaries. Only two highly cited papers discussed tourism within a broader context of integrated coastal zone management, suggesting that tourism is mostly assessed as a discrete sector within the coastal zone and peripheral to other coastal management considerations or the global tourism sector as a whole. The findings have relevance to the holistic management of coasts, coastal tourism, and the achievement of sustainable development goals in a way that considers the increasing threats from coastal hazards, resource extraction and urbanisation, as well as the pervasive impacts of international business systems from local to global scales.
Tourism , Coastal management , Sustainable development , Poverty , Inequity
Smith, T., Elrick-Barr, C., Thomsen, D., Celliers, L. and Le Tissier, M. (2022) Impacts of tourism on coastal areas, in Cambridge Prisms: Coastal Futures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/cft.2022.5