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Monica A. Breiby, Hogne Øian and Øystein Aas

Discourses on sustainability in nature-based tourism tend to classify operations as ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’. We use these labels as an ironic comment on how some of the currently dominant discourses on sustainability in nature-based tourism tend to make coarse categorizations, since one or a few aspects of tourism come to symbolize entire categorizations of different types or forms of tourism, either in positive or negative terms. By drawing on illustrative examples from the Inland region of south-eastern Norway, we explore discourses and practices that incorporate the tendency of assessing sustainability using too few parameters, leaving out wider aspects related to the complexity of sustainable development in nature-based tourism. It is concluded that even the current turn from maximization to optimization strategies still may result in quick fix solutions, which may bring about new paradoxes and dilemmas related to sustainable development in this important business sector.