Introduction Researchers examining sustainable tourism have often focused on policies and on how policies might be strengthened. Several academic studies, for example, investigate individual policies or policy instruments intended to encourage sustainable tourism, such as assessments of interpretation policies, codes of conduct, land use regulations, carrying capacity limits, and sustainability indicators (Ayuso 2007; Miller and Twining-Ward 2005; Mycoo 2006). However, researchers have generally shown far less interest in the political circumstances that make the adoption of such policies less or more likely (Bramwell 1998). But behind policies there is always politics, and getting the politics right appears to be a prerequisite to securing sustainable tourism (Meadowcroft 2011). More research is needed on the practical politics and governance processes in specifi c circumstances that favor, obstruct or contradict sustainable tourism principles.