Tourism & Natural Resources

Tourism is a global phenomenon that for its success depends on the physical environment and a wide range of natural resources. It has a significant impact on natural resources and the environment, but when managed well it can also contribute to the conservation of these same resources.

Goal of the trajectory

  1. To understand tourism’s relation with a wide range of environmental settings, resources and sinks, in both developed and developing contexts, as well as the ways in which these relations are governed;
  2. To critically analyse tourism-resource relations and governance arrangements from various contemporary sociological, geographical and political science perspectives

The relations between tourism and natural resource use may take different forms at different levels. Locally, tourism affects the quality and availability of natural resources for local users. Regionally, tourism provides revenue for nature conservation, but also contributes to water shortages and waste. Globally, tourism exacerbates environmental problems, such as climate change and the so-called plastic soup.

The outcomes of these interactions depend on the effects and effectiveness of governance arrangements involving a range of actors. This trajectory focusses on the dynamic interplay between tourism and natural resources, at related processes of environmental governance, and the contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches that allow us to analyse these dynamics.


Students need to choose two courses out of the following four:

Thesis examples

This trajectory could lead to the following thesis opportunities:

  • Climate adaptation in tourism development (see e.g. “The role of weather and sea-ice information in Arctic expedition cruising”)
  • The role of biodiversity, human-wildlife conflicts, and nature conservation in tourism development (see e.g. “A lion for some cows: Policy Arrangements in the Payment for Environmental Services at Mbirikani, Kenya”)
  • The way tourism contributes to and is affected by flooding or water shortage, the energy transition, ocean plastic waste, or the governance arrangements targeted at environmentally sustainable tourism.