Towards the development of sustainable tourism in pakistan: A study of the role of tour operators

Zia Ullah, Rana Tahir Naveed, Atta Ur Rehman, Naveed Ahmad, Miklas Scholz, Mohammad Adnan, Heesup Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on sustainable tourism is scant, particularly in the least developed countries. Very few studies touch upon the concept and no holistic theoretical or conceptual frameworks around the idea of sustainable tourism have been formulated. This study aims at exploring the role of tour operators in developing sustainable tourism in Pakistan and how the tour operators (TOs) conceive their role in this regard. TOs were reached through phone calls, emails, and virtual sources as face-to-face interviews were not possible due to COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel by the government. In-depth interviews were conducted to gather data. Results suggest that the TOs although realize the importance of social, environmental, and economic dimensions of tourism on the communities but have no management systems in place to cater accordingly. There are no incentives in place by the government facilitate TOs to design and implement such systems. The TOs do not select a destination based on Global Sustainable Tourism Council criterion, but rather the selection of destination is mostly demand-based and profit-oriented. The study suggests that corporate profit motive is the sole criterion for decision making and is one of the major causes impeding sustainable tourism in Pakistan. The role of TOs in developing sustainable tourism is vague as the TOs do not have any systems in place to implement sustainable models. The study recommends that efforts need to be put in place to incentivize sustainable tourism in Pakistan and proper laws should be set forth by the authorities to comply by the TOs. The role of TOs is important and understood, however, there is a need to put proper systems in place.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4902
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Community
  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Tour operator
  • Tourism management systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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