Kerala, India. Photo credit: Mohamed Jasir via Unsplash

VU is proud to have a large cohort of PhD students who are investigating aspects of the visitor economy. One of the major themes of research at VU is sustainable tourism development.

Anu George, PhD candidate, is exploring responsible tourism and green growth. Responsible tourism creates responsibility among visitors, local community, and tourism stakeholders ‘to make better places to live in and better places to visit’, while green growth is the strategy to decouple economic growth from its negative environmental and social impacts.

Anu’s research focuses on integrating green growth objectives with responsible tourism initiatives, as well as analysing the effectiveness of the responsible tourism initiatives in Kerala, India. The research adopts qualitative methods such as interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observations to explore perspectives of tourism stakeholders and to understand themes considered by responsible tourism initiatives in Kerala.

The research identifies the contributions and positive impacts of responsible tourism initiatives in the local community. However, there is further scope to address environmental sustainability issues such as ecological degradation, loss of biodiversity, water pollution, and climate change. The research emphasises that efficient pathways and clear vision are required to accomplish inclusive development: integrating responsible tourism with green growth.