It is CSTT's research mission to contribute to the understanding of the environmental impacts of tourism and the tourism sector and, based on this knowledge, aim to support the industry with the transition to sustainable development. An important issue is to fill in several serious gaps in knowledge about the relations between tourism and its impacts on the environment. Gaps comprise understanding of the global tourism system and its relation to global transport systems, the impacts on global environmental issues like resource depletion and climate change, and the underlying drivers and mechanisms causing unsustainable development at both the global and the destination level. Where contemporary tourism studies often fail to include all tourism, generally ignoring domestic tourism, and acknowledge the importance of transport development for the global distribution of tourism flows and its impacts.
The CSTT research programme consists of the following five main themes:
- Climate Change and Tourism: objectives are developing and applying methods to determine the carbon footprint of tourism at all relevant scales (personal, destination, national, global) and based on direct emissions, indirect emissions and life cycle emissions.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: main objective of this line of research is to assess the impact of businesses on climate change and to develop low carbon footprint products: the knowledge from the first theme is applied in cooperation with the sector to develop climate change strategies for destinations, tour operators, transport companies, accommodations, and other enterprises within the tourism sector.
- Sustainable tourist behaviour: in this theme we try to better understand the role of tourism in people’s daily live, well-being and try to answer the question why unsustainable travel behaviour seems to be more attractive to most people than sustainable travel behaviour. As businesses are created by people as well, also business level behaviour is included in this line of research.
- The geography of tourism and transport: while it is obvious that tourism and transport depend on each other, the sector’s research is often fully separated. The objective of this theme is to integrate both on the theoretical and the practical level. In this theme not only climate change, but also other environmental and spatial subjects are studied. This is also the theme where destinations form an important subject of research and where we study various forms of tourism that may reduce the sector’s environmental pressures.
- Methods and tools: developing and applying (new) methods and tools is an important part of the work within the CSTT research programme. Methods are system dynamic modelling, scenario methods, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), innovative social research methods (field surveys, in-depth interview techniques using ICT technology), integrated environmental assessments, inter-disciplinary approaches, application ecological economics and of eco-efficiency, and qualitative methods like discourse analyses. These methods and tools are tested and used throughout the other four themes.