Introducing the concept of environmental policy integration into the discourse on sustainable tourism: a way to improve policy-making and implementation?
Many studies have explored how the tourism sector and tourism policies understand and relate to the concept of sustainable development. A common conclusion is that tourism concentrates on economic and social viability at the expense of environmental sustainable development.
This paper considers if and how the concept of environmental policy integration (EPI) could improve sustainable tourism policy implementation. It defines EPI, and explores both the three-level (co-ordination, harmonization and prioritization) and four-level (inclusion, consistency, priorities and reporting) EPI approaches. It notes that there is both strong and weak EPI, and both political systems and policy analysis approaches. The paper then describes Norway's post-2007 adoption of sustainable tourism as a central part of its national tourism development strategy, with 10 defined principles, and suggested defined development standards, and assesses the implementation of the national strategy through the lens of the EPI concept. While there are now 18 pilot sustainable tourism destinations, with 44 criteria and 108 indicators, there remain many difficult issues to address. A series of suggestions are made, the chief of which is the need for a politically strong central authority that has been entrusted with having environmental concerns within the tourism sector as its key mandate.