A change would do you good: advances in research impact in sustainable tourism and some ‘home truths’ for the sector

Christopher R. Jones, Andreas Walmsley

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There is a growing impetus on academics working in higher education to evidence the wider impact (i.e. the social and economic benefits) of their research. As academic disciplines, tourism in general, and sustainable tourism more specifically, evolved to understand and address the real-world challenges and opportunities facing the sector. It is thus worrying that there are indications of a growing divide between researchers and beneficiaries. This editorial introduces a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism dedicated to showcasing examples of sustainable tourism research that are bucking the trend by clearly evidencing the applied value of research and the routes to creating change. First, we outline the footings of the ‘impact agenda’ within academia and examine the distinction between the impact in its academic and wider forms. With the focus on wider impact, we then consider its provenance within the field of sustainable tourism before outlining the themes underpinning the eight articles comprising this special issue. We end by considering the changes that are required within the academic environment and to the psyche and approach of tourism scholars in order to enhance the likelihood of wider impact being generated from the outcomes of scholarly activity within the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2073-2088
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number9
Early online date5 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022


  • knowledge exchange
  • wider impact
  • socio-economic impact
  • sustainable tourism
  • research excellence
  • higher education


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