A systematic scoping review of sustainable tourism indicators in relation to the sustainable development goals
Journal of Sustainable Tourism
Taylor and Francis
School of Business and Law
Ministry of Education, Malaysia
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Sustainable tourism indicators (STIs) are an integral element of tourism planning and management. This study systematically reviews the research contributions on the development of STIs based on four criteria including: i) the relevance of the STIs to the sustainable development goals (SDGs); ii) governance; iii) stakeholders involved; and iv) the distinction between subjective and objective indicators. A search of Scopus indexed journals published up to April 2018, yielded 97 papers for examination. The findings demonstrate the lack of direct attention to the SDGs in those papers published after their launch in 2016. However, the majority of the SDGs and their targets have indirectly been covered in the reviewed papers. The results revealed that, among the sustainability themes of economic growth, social inclusion, environmental protection, and governance, the STIs studies tended to overlook the dimension of governance. The findings showed that residents are the most engaged stakeholder group, and tourists the least engaged as compared with government and businesses. The results also indicated that more attention is afforded to objective compared to subjective indicators. The findings also demonstrated that much of the focus is on European countries rather than the Global South which is the major focus of the SDGs.