Research into the tourism industry conducted by SOMO reveals that the notion of sustainable tourism embodies a paradox.

Tourism, if undertaken in a responsible way, contributes to the economic development of local communities. However, the means of transportation required to get tourists to those communities and destinations is inherently unsustainable. This is the opinion of SOMO researcher Joseph Wilde and Bart Slob in their article 'Eco-holidays – The sustainable tourism paradox' in magazine the Ethical Corporation. These two facets of tourism are contradictory yet inseparable, and the ethically-minded traveller needs to be aware that tourism is not a sustainable development panacea.