Conceptualizing cultural sensitivity in tourism: a systematic literature review

Chris E. Hurst*, Bryan S. R. Grimwood, R. Harvey Lemelin, Michela J. Stinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This study contributes to the conceptualization of cultural sensitivity in tourism based on an analysis of tourism and social science literatures associated with Indigenous peoples in Canada. The study used a systematic literature review methodology, which consisted of thematically analysing 56 English language, tourism and social science journal articles. Findings indicate that while cultural sensitivity is rarely explicitly defined, several themes are consistently used to illustrate what cultural sensitivity entails or should entail in tourism and other social science encounters. Themes include: (i) respect, (ii) trust, (iii) ethics, (iv) cultural identity, (v) mutual understanding and cultural exchange, (vi) self-determination, governance, and capacity building, and (vii) unique healing, wellness, and spiritual needs. In addition to describing these interrelated themes, the study proposes a definition of cultural sensitivity in tourism tethered to the contexts of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-515
Number of pages16
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number4
Early online date17 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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