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The global consciousness path to sustainable tourism: a perspective paper

Alan A. Lew (Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 7 January 2020

Issue publication date: 20 February 2020




Tourism and travel experiences are a major contributor to expanding global awareness and consciousness, which is necessary to achieve sustainable development in an integrated and rapidly shrinking world.


Consciousness is a major area of theoretical speculation and debate in neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, biology, quantum physics and spirituality disciplines. These fields offer insights into how tourism contributes to an evolving global consciousness.


Global consciousness is needed to give a context and vision for addressing the pressing needs of the world today. It is a platform to integrate sustainability at the individual level, and it justifies the human desire to travel as a consciousness expanding experience. In this way, tourism can serve as a positive force for creating a truly sustainable future world.

Practical implications

Global consciousness could be adopted as an 18th UN Sustainable Development Goal to give a holistic, spiritual and personal vision to sustainable development, which is currently lacking. Travel and tourism would be a major participant in achieving this goal.


Global consciousness is a non-dualist visionary goal for humankind, and for travel and tourism, which could move both toward more sustainable outcomes than have the reductionist sustainable development practices of the past.



Lew, A.A. (2020), "The global consciousness path to sustainable tourism: a perspective paper", Tourism Review, Vol. 75 No. 1, pp. 69-75.



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