Postprint of: Ruhanen, L, Weiler, B, Moyle, BD & McLennan, CJ 2015, 'Trends and patterns in sustainable tourism research: a 25-year bibliometric analysis', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 517-535.
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In the quarter of a century since the release of the 1987 Brundtland Report, sustainable tourism has emerged as the dominant paradigm in tourism development. However, the debate, discourse, and criticism of this subfield of tourism research continues. To address such concerns the purpose of this paper is to explore trends and patterns in sustainable tourism research over the past 25 years. A 25-year bibliometric analysis was conducted for the four highest ranked journals in the tourism field. Results indicate that the growth in sustainable tourism research has been remarkable, with 492 papers published in these four journals and almost half of these in the last two years of the analysis. The largest proportion of papers published on sustainable tourism was case studies, empirical studies, and critical reviews. This study found that while the theoretical and methodological approaches appear to have matured over time, the subjects and themes in sustainable tourism research, with some exceptions, have remained constant. However, the field is clearly maturing with a move away from definitional and conceptual papers to papers focused on testing and applying theory through empirical research.