Jarkko Saarinen* - Department of Geography, University of Oulu
The idea of setting limits to growth has a long history in geographical thinking, including tourism geographies. Since the turn of 1990s the limits to growth in tourism have been conceptualised through the idea of sustainable tourism. Although strongly supported by many intergovernmental and national agencies, NGO's and academics, the idea of sustainable tourism received critical commentaries from the very beginning of its existence. Recently there has been an increasing criticism towards the current understandings of sustainable tourism. The most critical views emphasize that 'sustainable tourism is an idea whose time has now passed' and that we 'need to move beyond sustainability.' At the same time, however, the global scale and nature of tourism growth and impacts urgently call for limiting management frameworks. Indeed, there is a need to understand and re-conceptualize the idea of sustainable tourism and how the limits to growth in tourism are and should be constituted, but instead of abandoning sustainability as an idea that didn't deliver the expected, the current hegemonic thinking of sustainability in tourism needs to be challenged. This paper argues that instead of going beyond sustainability the origins of sustainability thinking need to be brought back to sustainable tourism discussions. The paper overviews different approaches and critics on sustainability in tourism and aims to seek how a 'critical sustainability' and governance could relate to recent discussions on ethics in tourism development.