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Social and cultural sustainability in urban destinations

Social and cultural sustainability in urban destinations

Li, Jiawei ORCID: 0000-0003-1585-7640 , Morrison, Alastair ORCID: 0000-0002-0754-1083 , Nguyen, Hai and Coca-Stefaniak, J. Andres ORCID: 0000-0001-5711-519X (2024) Social and cultural sustainability in urban destinations. In: Maxim, Cristina, Morrison, Alastair ORCID: 0000-0002-0754-1083 , Day, Jonathon and Coca-Stefaniak, J. Andres ORCID: 0000-0001-5711-519X , (eds.) Handbook of Sustainable Urban Tourism. Research Handbooks in Tourism series . Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., Cheltenham, UK; and Northampton, Massachusetts USA, pp. 83-101. ISBN 978-10803926735; 978-1803926742; 1803926732 (doi:

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Sustainability has grown to become a major body of knowledge in tourism research (Espiner et al., 2019) since the advent of the first definition of sustainable development, coined by the United Nation’s Brundtland Commission Report (WCED, 1987). In 2005, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) developed a definition for sustainable tourism that used the three pillars of sustainable development as a framework – the economy, society, and the environment. Although prioritising sustainable development is increasingly becoming commonplace in tourism strategies around the world (McCool and Boska, 2019), with a substantial growth in the quantity and quality of sustainability research related to tourism destinations, a focus on environmental sustainability has often prevailed over socio-cultural aspects.

Today, a growing number of urban tourism destinations face challenges rooted in their socio-cultural sustainability, largely as a result of overtourism. Negative socio-cultural impacts on local residents in tourism cities commonly include changes in their ways of life, local culture and heritage, social customs, and architecture. In some cases, these changes can be positive and contribute to a renewed local community pride triggered by a re-discovery of the value of local heritage and traditions, coupled with new jobs created by a re-invigorated visitor economy. However, there are also cases where the impact of tourism on local communities in tourism cities has manifested itself in the form of a loss of authenticity, culture clashes, disrespectful tourist behaviour and a rise in crime rates (Shaw & Williams, 1994; Smith, 2016).

Compared with the research contributions on environmental sustainability, there is a much smaller literature body on social and cultural sustainability. Some contributions have been made regarding cultural heritage sustainability, including on the social sustainability of heritage buildings (Ismailoǧlu and Sipahi, 2021), food heritage sustainability (Zocchi et al., 2021), and heritage sustainability (Stubbs, 2004). Scholars have also published about social and cultural sustainability in realms outside of tourism and these have covered the social-cultural sustainability of housing (Chiu, 2004), the social sustainability of urban renewal projects (Chan and Lee, 2008), and the social and cultural sustainability of regional areas (Balsas, 2022). However, as pointed out by Istenič and Zrnić (2022), social sustainability is often a neglected aspect of sustainable development and does not have a clear set of measures. The same authors also argued that culture was not recognised as a critical factor in (sustainable) development. Several sources have argued that culture should be considered as the fourth pillar of sustainable development (e.g., Cvejić, 2015; UCLG, 2018), giving us a quadruple bottom line.

A gap exists in the academic literature and tourism practice on social and cultural sustainability. Therefore, the main aim and potential contribution of this chapter was to elaborate further on social and cultural sustainability within urban destinations

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: social sustainability; cultural sustainability; urban destinations; tourism cities; dimensions; indicators; PESTEL-RVS framework
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Last Modified: 01 May 2024 12:51

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