Governments in many developing countries endorse sustainable tourism, despite associated practical limitations and challenges as a development strategy. Using the case of Cambodia, this paper illustrates how sustainable tourism issues in a developing country may be better understood through a systematic review of scattered relevant peer-reviewed and grey literature. This can help in identifying emergent themes and challenges, gaps in knowledge, and opportunities for future research. Analysis of 77 documents on Cambodia's sustainable tourism revealed themes and challenges relating to: (1) an emphasis on nature-based tourism (ecotourism); (2) calls for greater community engagement for sustainable outcomes; (3) stakeholder perceptions and values as drivers of tourism success; (4) cultural heritage as a key tourism attraction; and (5) foreign investment shaping Cambodia's tourism future. Unequal emphasis is given to key government policies for tourism development and there is limited practical guidance on how to realise a vision of sustainable tourism. There is a lack of consideration of how the socio-economic and cultural context affects sustainable tourism. The evidence suggests that sustainable tourism in Cambodia is questionable until fundamental economic, social capacity and policy issues are addressed, along with greater emphasis given to the tourism system's demand side.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism / Vol. 23, No. 5, pp.797-818