Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Community and Regional Planning


Tourism is considered one of the world's largest industries and one of the fastest growing economic sectors. Tourism, like any other economic sector, uses resources, generates waste, and creates negative environmental, cultural, and social impacts. However, tourism also creates benefits as it contributes to local, regional, and national economies, and it may also foster conservation if a portion of the generated revenues is invested in protection. This research provides an overview of the direct relationship between tourism, sustainability, and the natural and socioeconomic environments. This study analyzes the impact of tourism development on two small coastal communities in Mexico: Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa and Puerto Progreso. Both communities have unique natural and cultural assets, which are their principal attraction. In both cases, tourism is their main economic activity. This study also analyzes the conflicts and challenges that local authorities and residents of these communities face over the use and control of resources. Tourism-base coastal communities utilize pristine beaches, historic landmarks, scenic ecosystems, and sites with unique flora and fauna as main attraction. Such tourism communities seek economic benefits from visitors, which often come at the cost of maintaining their socio-cultural integrity. Tourism is considered an important engine of economic growth for local, regional, and even national economies because it contributes to a significant portion of foreign revenues. But, if not well planned, tourism can negatively impact communities. This study suggests that coastal tourism and environmental, social, and cultural changes are correlated. The findings here suggest that the coastal zone in both case studies is becoming densely developed. Hence, both case studies here presented and their natural and local assets that attract and support tourism, face increasing pressures and changes. This research focuses not only in the complexity of tourism problems experienced within small coastal communities, but it also present a comprehensive approach to coastal zone management and sustainable development. It attempts to demonstrate that when adopting sustainable strategies, small tourism-oriented communities can significantly enhance natural environments, maximize tourism's economic benefits, and protect their cultural assets, while becoming more competitive.

Copyright Owner

Elsa Pérez López



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

192 pages