Michele Pooley


The purpose of this paper is to investigate and compare the ways in which the popular tourist destinations of Cornwall in the UK and Andalucia in Spain are attempting to change their traditional holiday image and develop a new, more sustainable tourism product for the millennium.  Both areas were immensely popular in the post-war period as sun, sand and sea destinations, but popularity declined in the 1980s.  One of the reasons for this change was a deterioration of environment and image caused by inadequate planning, overdevelopment and a failure to react to changing tourist demands.  The 1990s have seen attempts by both regions to upgrade their image in order to appeal to a more discerning tourist, and to develop a sustainable tourism product which is more sympathetic towards local social and environmental values. 

This paper aims to establish just how influential sustainable tourism principles have been in guiding the redevelopment of the tourism industry in Cornwall and Andalucia.  A theoretical perspective that sustainable tourism is an adaptive paradigm will be used to assess the tourism development plans for each region.  It will also be used to compare the ways in which these plans have been interpreted, translated and implemented in different locations to direct tourism practice in a way that best suits the destination area.  The key issue is that the extent to which a region develops a sustainable tourism product depends largely upon the level of commitment it has to putting sustainable tourism principles into practice.  This paper will show that tourism development in both Cornwall and Andalucia continues to be driven by an economic dependence on tourism, which reduces the sustainability of the tourism product.


The growth of sustainable tourism during the 1990s has affected strategies for tourism development worldwide, but this paper examines the influence of sustainable tourism principles on the redevelopment of the tourism industry in Cornwall and Andalucia specifically.  It will compare the ways in which sustainable tourism is adapted to suit each region and the different ways that development plans are translated into practice.  Chapter One comprises an introduction to the distinguishing characteristics of the two regions, and is followed by a brief recent history of tourism in Cornwall and Andalucia. This will highlight the problems caused by unrestricted tourism development and will introduce sustainable tourism as a possible response to the negative impacts of tourism.

The literature review in Chapter Two presents a broad debate on the principles of sustainable tourism, setting out the arguments relevant to planning and development, and addressing the social and economic arguments that underpin the issues. The first section briefly reviews the need for research, impact assessments, monitoring, and planning.  This is followed by a debate on the economic impacts of tourism, noting the influence of market forces and the redistributive efforts of government policies and EU initiatives.  The next topic focuses on the importance of image, culture and identity and the effects of their commodification by tourism marketing.  These issues have profound implications for the communities affected by tourism and will be related to Cornwall and Andalucia in particular.

Chapter Three introduces a theoretical perspective which is based on the assertion that sustainable tourism is an adaptive paradigm (Hunter, 1997).  This provides a framework which identifies three basic interpretations of sustainable tourism and will be used in Chapter Four to analyse tourism development in Cornwall and Andalucia.  Details of tourism strategy and planning in both regions was obtained from various sources and provides the research material.  The sources of information and the obstacles encountered are discussed before the research results are presented separately.  Each regional tourism strategy is located in the broader context of a national plan, so reference is also made to national objectives.  No comment is made on these plans in this chapter except a brief comparison by way of summary.

The tourism strategies for Cornwall and Andalucia are critically examined in Chapter Four.  Firstly, the strategies are identified in terms of the three basic interpretations of sustainable tourism.  Tourism practice is shown to be adaptive by identifying the various ways in which sustainable tourism has been interpreted and translated into action in different areas.  This naturally leads to a discussion on the barriers to sustainability and the limits of its influence on the tourism product.  The findings are then compared with previous literature to reveal the theory behind the strategies and assess whether they are likely to be successful in practice.

Chapter Five will summarise the findings and note the limitations and implications of this particular methodology.  The influence of sustainable tourism principles and the effectiveness of tourism strategy in Cornwall and Andalucia will be critically evaluated, and assumptions made whether tourism planning is likely to engender economic development as well as a product compatible with the guiding paradigms of sustainable tourism development.  The conclusion emphasises the need for continued research, planning and monitoring, and calls for the development of effective sustainable tourism policies.