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Sustainable Tourism Indicators: Selection Criteria for Policy Implementation and Scientific Recognition

Using sustainable tourism indicators (STI) creates many difficulties resulting mainly from the multiple interpretations of the concept of sustainable development, and by extension of the concept of sustainable tourism. To these difficulties are added an absence of a strong academic background, which is the result of incompatibilities between the needs and objectives of the academic versus the political world, which often challenges the need for indicators. We propose a parsimonious list of sustainable tourism indicators based on the application of a series of selection criteria. From the expert recognized indicators, all of these criteria help us choose the indicators, which cover the dimensions and issues of sustainable development for tourism. They are legitimized by existing experiences and sufficiently flexible to be useful for different destinations. In the end, the intersection of these conditions contributes to the scientific and political recognition of the indicators. We start by applying four general selection criteria to a 507 STI database. This allows us to reduce the list to 20 recognized STI. We end the selection process by applying three specific criteria in order to adjust the 20 STI to render them operational. We illustrate the selection procedure with an example of criteria application to the Gaspésie-Iles-de-la Madeleine region in Quebec.
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