A Framework for Sustainable Tourism Development in and around National Parks


  • Kelly S. Bricker Department of Parks, Recreation, and TourismUniversity of Utah
  • N. Qwynne Lackey SUNY Cortland, qwynne.lackey@cortland.edu Leah Joyner, University of Utah, leah.joyner@utah.edu
  • Leah Joyner University of Utah




national parks, destination management, sustainability evaluation, criteria, indicators


The proliferation of tourism to U.S. national parks yields increasing demands for service and conservation programs that are well-matched with the broadening view of sustainability management in and around PPAs. As such, there is a critical need for research regarding holistic perspectives on planning and monitoring sustainable development. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a non-profit, independent organization that develops and manages global baseline standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. The GSTC Destination Criteria have not been widely applied to PPAs, yet these criteria may offer a useful guiding framework for sustainable tourism development in PPAs.  Therefore, this study explores the utility of the GSTC Destination Criteria as a tool for assisting managers at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) in developing a destination-level sustainability plan. In August 2018, we conducted a sustainability evaluation using the GSTC Destination Criteria. Specific areas of success and improvement were identified, and park managers are using this information to improve the park’s strategic plan. The results of this evaluation are reviewed and critiqued within our broader assessment of the utility of the GSTC Destination Criteria in national park planning.

Author Biography

Kelly S. Bricker, Department of Parks, Recreation, and TourismUniversity of Utah


Dr. Bricker is a Professor and Director of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah. She completed her Ph.D. research with the Pennsylvania State University, where she specialized in sustainable tourism and protected area management. She has research and teaching interests in ecotourism, sense of place, natural resource management, and the impacts of tourism.  She has authored and edited books on sustainability, which highlight case studies in tourism meeting environmental and societal issues in Sustainable Tourism & the Millennium Development Goals: Effecting Positive Change; educational texts focused on adventure education in Adventure Programing and Travel for the 21st Century and graduate education in De-Mystifying Theories in Tourism Research; and most recently, relevant to current projects, co-edited This Land Is Your Land: Toward a Better Understanding of Nature’s Resiliency-Building and Restorative Power for Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families (Sagamore Publishing, LLC). Dr. Bricker serves the boards of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, The International Ecotourism Society, The Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee of the United Nations World Tourism Organization 10YFP for sustainable development, and the Tourism and Protected Area Specialist Group of the IUCN. With partners in OARS and her husband, she developed an ecotourism operation called Rivers Fiji.