Community agency and sustainable tourism development: The case of La Fortuna, Costa Rica

David Matarrita-Cascante, Mark Anthony Brennan, A. E. Luloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Previous sustainable tourism research has called for the promotion of community-based tourism as a means of achieving sustainable development goals. Such community-based development has been noted as essential for sustainable practices because of its capacity to benefit local populations while reducing tourism's negative consequences. Nonetheless, some researchers have warned that community-based tourism, by itself, does not necessarily lead to sustainable practices. This study examines local social interactional elements necessary for the achievement of sustainable tourism practices. Such practices are attainable when certain attitudinal, organizational and/or behavioral conditions are present within a community. Using a case study methodology, this article examines the interactional elements by which residents of La Fortuna, Costa Rica, engaged in sustainable tourism practices. The study was based on the theoretical notion of the community field. It used key informant interviews and participant observation. The study shows how economic, social and environmentally sustainable practices were made possible through community agency, the construction of local relationships that increase the adaptive capacity of people within a common locality. Key factors found to enable community agency are strong intra- and extra-community interactions, open communication, participation, distributive justice and tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-756
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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