In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Tourism Geography

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Handbooks
  • Journals
  • Progress in Human Geography Reports
  • Culture and Heritage Tourism
  • Economic Geography and Tourism
  • Migration and Mobilities
  • Destination Place Branding

Geography Tourism Geography
Deborah Che
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0156


Geography is the ideal discipline for studying the global tourism industry; as the key journal Tourism Geographies (under Journals) explains, there are many fundamentally geographical aspects to tourism which (1) “occurs in places, (2) is sold and begins in a place of origin and is consumed in destination places, (3) transforms the environment of visited places in ways that are distinct from non-tourism processes, (4) involves the movement of people, goods, services, ideas, and money over space, and (5) presents a distinct way that people view, understand and relate to the world.” Given the inherently spatial aspects of tourism, geographers have contributed significantly to academic tourism studies. They have developed some of the most important conceptual models for explaining tourism development, including resort morphology, the tourist-historic city, and the tourist area life cycle. Additionally geographers have made the most sustained contributions to the study of the environmental dimensions of tourism and have been major contributors to the concepts of sustainable tourism and Ecotourism. Even though it has been at the core of tourism studies and also strengthened geography department enrollments, tourism geography ironically has been somewhat peripheral in academic geography. This status may be due in part to the inertia of academic institutions and staff in not seeing tourism as a serious subject for study, as well as the difficulty in measuring the tourism industry as compared to primary and secondary industries. This bibliography highlights the contributions of tourism geography and geographers to tourism research and education through a review of general overviews, Handbooks, Journals, Progress in Human Geography Reports, and Textbooks and publications on Tourism Geography Education, as well as those on specific topical areas including Culture and Heritage Tourism, Sustainability and Tourism, Migration and Mobilities, Economic Geography and Tourism, and Destination Place Branding.

General Overviews

The sources in this section provide overviews of tourism geography and are references to the extensive literature reviewed. Butler 2004 interweaves personal experiences from Butler’s academic career in geography in Canada and tourism management in the UK in discussing geographical research on tourism before 1950, from 1950–1980 and post-1980 to the early 21st century. His earlier contributions primarily concerned environmental aspects of tourism such as sustainable development, carrying capacity, and limits to use, while his later work diversified into areas including mobilities and movement, regional development, and cultural topics. Hall 2013 reviews contemporary tourism geography and argues that the subdiscipline has been a significant contributor to the melding and hybridity of geographic binaries, especially in the development of more critical applied geographies of environmental change. Hall and Page 2009 identifies themes emerging from the research of geographers, including explaining spatialities, tourism planning and places, development and its critiques, tourism as an “applied” area of research, and future prospects in the development of spatiality in tourism research. Focusing on the state of North American tourism geography, Meyer-Arendt and Lew 2003 highlights the research themes and approaches of members of the Recreation, Tourism and Sport specialty group of the Association of American Geographers. In contrast to the former pieces, which largely focus on tourism geography research published in English, Kreisel 2004 provides an insight into the German geographical research on tourism and leisure which—with the exception of Christaller’s application of his central places theory to tourism and his hypothesis that zones more distant from urban and industrial agglomerations were more favorable for tourism development—is largely unfamiliar to non-German readers. Likewise, Lazzarotti 2002 reviews French tourism geography research outside the Anglo-American dominated academic literature. The general overviews in Butler 2004, Hall 2013, and Hall and Page 2009 note that while geography has been foundational to tourism studies, with over one-third of the most cited tourism scholars from 1970–2007 having graduate qualifications in geography (Hall and Page 2009), tourism has been marginalized in academic geography, with few positions in geography departments and barely a mention in key publications on the history of geographical thought. Likewise Butler 2004 (see also Sustainability and Tourism) found hardly any articles on tourism and recreation were published in the leading geographical journals from 1950–1990. While the 1970s embargo on tourism research at the Annals of the Association of American Geographers ended with a change in editors and policy (Butler 2004), tourism research has remained relatively peripheral in geography as contrasted to geography’s core status within tourism.

  • Butler, Richard. “Geographical Research on Tourism, Recreation, and Leisure: Origins, Eras, and Directions.” Tourism Geographies 6.2 (2004): 143–162.

    DOI: 10.1080/1461668042000208453

    Draws on the author’s four-decade involvement in the field of leisure, recreation, and tourism. Uniquely interweaves personal narratives in discussing the diverse research emphases and contributions by geographers; the explosion in tourism programs (mainly in business and management schools); and future contributions possible if a strong spatial focus and a synthesizing approach are maintained.

  • Hall, C. Michael. “Framing Tourism Geography: Notes from the Underground.” Annals of Tourism Research 43 (2013): 601–623.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2013.06.007

    While noting the context in which tourism geography operates as a foundational discipline to the study of tourism (although perceived as marginal to institutional geography) the article argues that tourism geography has been a significant contributor to bridging geographic binaries, including the applied versus theoretical and physical versus human.

  • Hall, C. M., and S. J. Page. “Progress in Tourism Management: From the Geography of Tourism to Geographies of Tourism—A Review.” Tourism Management 30.1 (2009): 3–16.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2008.05.014

    Provides a review of the state of tourism geography thirty years from when the journal first began publishing articles by geographers; especially timely given the subdiscipline is at a crossroads with the retirement of those who contributed significantly to tourism studies and the emergence of a new generation of tourism geographers.

  • Kreisel, Werner. “Geography of Leisure and Tourism Research in the German-speaking World: Three Pillars to Progress.” Tourism Geographies 6.2 (2004): 163–185.

    DOI: 10.1080/1461668042000208435

    This article provides an insight into German-language research in this subdiscipline, from Hans Poser’s 1939 on landscape and tourism regions to current applied foci on sustainable tourism, including strategic resource and quality management planning and the transformation of former industrial landscapes for recreation, leisure, and tourism.

  • Lazzarotti, Olivier. “French Tourism Geographies: A Review.” Tourism Geographies 4.2 (2002): 135–147.

    DOI: 10.1080/14616680210124909

    This article provides an historical overview of the French geographical literature on tourism since the end of the 19th century, which has been hampered by academic institutional assumptions of what is/is not geography.

  • Meyer-Arendt, Klaus J., and Alan A. Lew. “Recreation, Tourism and Sport.” In Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Edited by Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott, 526–542. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

    A useful overview that identifies the broad tourism geography themes and approaches in which recreation, tourism and sport academics have published, including travel; historical tourism; perception; environmental aspects; destination studies; specialized tourism including cultural, farm, and rural tourism and resorts and marketing; and economic aspects of tourism.

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