Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia


  • Alexander Trupp Sunway University, Malaysia
  • Claudia Dolezal University of Westminster, UK



COVID-19, Southeast Asia, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Tourism and Development


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals adopted in 2015, are aimed at reconciling economic, social, and ecological progress at a global level – ensuring a sustainable future for developed and developing countries alike. Tourism in Southeast Asia is particularly thought to make an important contribution – given its substantial economic role – to the SDGs. While the United Nations initially only linked three SDGs to tourism, it bears often underused potential to contribute to the entire set of goals. Yet, the relationship between tourism and sustainable development is regarded as ambiguous – an industry strongly characterized by an overdependence on international tourists and foreign investment, showing a patchy track record of negative impacts and conflicts. In addition, in times of COVID-19, tourism has become a dormant industry, leaving behind substantial economic gaps, particularly in Southeast Asia. With regards to the SDGs, little research exists to date that investigates whether and how tourism can contribute to reaching the goals’ targets to achieve a more sustainable development. This article thus outlines the current situation for tourism for development in Southeast Asia, and discusses the links between tourism and the SDGs, particularly at a time when the region – and theindustry at large – have been strongly impacted.

Author Biographies

Alexander Trupp, Sunway University, Malaysia

Alexander Trupp is an Associate Professor at the School of Hospitality, Sunway University, Malaysia, and editor-in-chief of the Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies (ASEAS). He previously worked for The University of the South Pacific, Mahidol University, and University of Vienna. His research interests include tourism microbusinesses, mobilities, Asian tourism, and sustainable tourism, with a regional focus on the Asia-Pacific. Alexander is the author of Migration, Micro-Business and Tourism in Thailand (2016, Routledge) and co-editor of Tourism and Development in South-East Asia (2020, Routledge).

Claudia Dolezal, University of Westminster, UK

Claudia Dolezal is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Sustainable Development at the University of Westminster in London, UK. She has a background in tourism, international development, and social anthropology, with a geographical focus on the region of Southeast Asia (Thailand and Bali), and most recently Latin America and London. Claudia’s research interests focus on tourism and social inequalities, tourism and sustainable development, community-based tourism, residents’ empowerment, and the anthropology of tourism. She is editor of ASEAS, and co-editor of Tourism and Development in South-East Asia (2020, Routledge) and the Handbook of Niche Tourism (forthcoming, Edward Elgar).


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