Reviewing integrated sustainability indicators for tourism

Kristín Rut Kristjánsdóttir*, Rannveig Ólafsdóttir, Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Integrated sustainability indicators for tourism (ISIT) address tourism as an element of both economic and socio-ecological systems and as actively integrated in multi-level policy-making and planning. This paper aims to review studies of ISIT in peer-reviewed journals with a focus on methodological approaches. By specifically examining ISIT, this study embraces the interdisciplinary nature of both sustainability science and tourism studies. The results are based on a systematic literature review and categorization of the studies’ academic disciplines, methods and organization of indicators. The results reveal that despite being a relatively young area of study, research on ISIT has developed simultaneously across multiple academic disciplines, and is expanding. There seems to be greater interest in developing new methodologies than applying existing indicator frameworks. Most papers refer to indicators thematically and thus discuss tourism separately in the contexts of environmental, social or economic impact. However, emerging approaches analyze tourism as a system of interconnected components and an element of multi-level policy-making. These approaches emphasize public participation and a continuous redefinition of sustainability challenges in response to changes in socio-ecological systems. Current research on ISIT thus focuses on the interconnectedness of indicators and sustainable development as a dynamic process rather than an end goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-599
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Other keywords

  • indicator
  • integrated
  • socio-ecological system
  • Sustainability
  • system
  • tourism


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