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Local authority sustainable planning for tourism: lessons from Ireland

Emmet McLoughlin (Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Events Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University – Llandaff Campus, Cardiff, UK)
James Hanrahan (Department of Marketing, Tourism and Sport, Institute of Technology Sligo, Sligo, Ireland)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 30 May 2019

Issue publication date: 19 June 2019




Sustainability is an essential word in the vocabulary of modern planning; it is the key principle that underpins the Irish planning process. Yet, despite decades of academic and practical debate on sustainable planning and its application to tourism, there still exist many gaps, especially when it comes to its implementation. The purpose of this paper is to highlight, over a 10-year period, how Local Authorities in Ireland have responded to the increasing tourism arrivals, which is having major implications for tourism planning.


This study used a multi-method approach to determine the level of sustainable planning for tourism as evident from all legally required Local Authority County Development Plans (CDPs) in Ireland.


While findings have identified a slight increase in the provision for sustainable planning for tourism over the decade, there continues to be poor levels of policy provision in key areas. Despite the responsibilities placed on Local Authorities to sustainably plan for tourism, findings continue to question the ability of Local Authorities in Ireland to plan sustainably for tourism and protect the tourism product.


This research provides the first longitudinal study on the level of sustainable planning for tourism by Local Authorities in Ireland. It provides an assessment of the current state of sustainable planning as evident from CDPs in 2016 compared to the original study of 2006, while developing new knowledge on Local Authority sustainable planning for tourism and the incorporation of tourism indicators.



McLoughlin, E. and Hanrahan, J. (2019), "Local authority sustainable planning for tourism: lessons from Ireland", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 3, pp. 327-348.



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