Bringing ecotourism into focus: Applying a hierarchical perspective to ecotourism research

Carter A. Hunt, Amanda Stronza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Ecotourism is a complex phenomenon that has grown rapidly in the last three decades. The emerging field of inquiry based on this phenomenon has followed a similar trajectory of growth. Understanding the dimensions of its impacts can pose great challenges to researchers. As a result, ecotourism literature is characterised by continued debates of definitions, bias towards small-scale, one-shot case studies, and overall lack of coherence, and a dearth of explanatory theory. We discuss how hierarchy theory may be used to address these issues. Hierarchy theory has been applied in other disciplines to organise research inquiries, characterise the conclusions drawn from them, and reconcile competing definitions and theories. We explain how key concepts from hierarchy theory are of relevance to levels of analyses of ecotourism whether conducted on individual people or destinations or on the global phenomenon as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ecotourism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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