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Sustainable Mega-events: Beyond the Myth of Balanced Approaches to Mega-event Sustainability

The concept of sustainability is now integral to the lexicon of tourism and is increasingly become part of the discourse of mega-events. Yet despite the success of the concept of sustainable development in being adopted in tourism policy-making and research tourism is less sustainable than ever if environmental measures are adopted. Similarly, substantial questions have been raised as to the sustainability of mega-events. Three frames of sustainability are used with reference to tourism and mega-events: economic sustainability, balanced sustainability and steady-state sustainability. Each of these have implications for the paradigm under which mega-events are developed and attracted. Only steady-state sustainability is regarded as sufficient to maintain or enhance natural capital. However, the likelihood of the required policy learning to occur for this paradigm to be adopted are slim given the role of political and corporate interests in promoting mega-events as a solution to problems of place competitiveness rather than as a symptom of the problems of contemporary neoliberal thinking with respect to events, places and sustainability. Keywords: steady-state tourism, hallmark events, political economy, neoliberalism Please note that this is the draft of the paper, for the authoritative version please check the journal website.