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Carrying Capacity Assessment For Tourism Develo... ((EXCLUSIVE))



Tourism carrying capacity (TCC) is an imperfect[1] but useful approach to managing visitors in vulnerable areas.[2] The TCC concept evolved out of the fields of range, habitat and wildlife management. In these fields, managers attempted to determine the largest population of a particular species that could be supported by a habitat over a long period of time.[3]




carrying capacity assessment for tourism develo...



At the extreme, in areas where the objective is to maintain pristine conditions, any level of visitor use creates adverse or negative impacts, suggesting that the carrying capacity is zero. The acceptable level of damage is a matter of human judgment. Understanding what is acceptable is the focus of the limits of acceptable change planning process referred to later in this article.


This is the maximum number of tourists that an area is actually able to support. In the case of an individual tourist attraction it is the maximum number that can fit on the site at any given time and still allow people to be able to move. This is normally assumed to be around 1m per person.PCC per a day = area (in metres squared) x visitors per metre x daily duration" (Mowforth and Munt)[6]This is a formula which has been used to calculate the physical carrying capacity.


This relates to a level of acceptable change within the local economy of a tourist destination, it is the extent to which a tourist destination is able to accommodate tourist functions without the loss of local activities,[7] take for example a souvenir store taking the place of a shop selling essential items to the local community. Economic carrying capacity can also be used to describe the point at which the increased revenue brought by tourism development is overtaken by the inflation caused by tourism.


This relates to the extent to which the natural environment is able to tolerate interference from tourists. This is made more complicated by the fact that because it deals with ecology which is able to regenerate to some extent so in this case, the carrying capacity is when the damage exceeds the habitat's ability to regenerate.


Authors such as Buckley, Wagar, Washburne, McCool, and Stankey have critiqued the concept as being flawed in both the conceptual assumptions made and its practical application. For example, the notion of a carrying capacity assumes that various elements, such as the social-ecological systems in which tourism destinations are situated, are stable. But some situations are dynamically complex and some outcomes are impossible to predict. To implement a carrying capacity flawlessly would require both a stable situation and complete control over entry. Implementation also requires considerable financial and technical resources, and when demand exceeds a limit, the ways in which scarce opportunities are allocated are contentious.


UNESCO (the organization responsible for administrating the World Heritage list) has expressed a concern that the use of carrying capacity can give the impression that a site is better protected than it actually is, it points out that although the whole site may be below carrying capacity part of the site may still be crowded.[10]


Limits of acceptable change was the first of the post-carrying-capacity visitor management frameworks developed to respond to the practical and conceptual challenges of carrying capacity. The framework was developed by The U.S. Forest Service in the 1980s. It is based on the idea that, rather than there being a threshold of visitor numbers, in fact any tourist activity has an impact and therefore management should be based on constant monitoring of the site as well as the objectives established for it. A maximum number of visitors can be established within the limits of acceptable change framework, but such maximums are only one tool among many that are available. The framework is frequently summarized into a nine step process.[11]


First of all, the carrying capacity can be the motivation to attract tourists visit the destination. The tourism industry, especially in national parks and protected areas, is subject to the concept of carrying capacity so as to determine the scale of tourist activities which can be sustained at specific times in different places. Various scholar over the years have developed several arguments developed about the definition of carrying capacity. Middleton and Hawkins defined carrying capacity as a measure of the tolerance of a site or building which is open to tourist activities, and the limit beyond which an area may suffer from the adverse impacts of tourism (Middleton & Hawkins, 1998). Chamberlain defined it as the level of human activity which an area can accommodate without either it deteriorating, the resident community being adversely affected or the quality of visitors' experience declining (Chamberlain, 1997). Clark defined carrying capacity as a certain threshold (level) of tourism activity, beyond which there will be damage to the environment and its natural inhabitants (Clark, 1997).


The reason for considering carrying capacity as a process, rather than a means of protection of various areas is in spite of the fact that carrying capacity was once a guiding concept in recreation and tourism management literature. Because of its conceptual elusiveness, lack of management utility and inconsistent effectiveness in minimizing visitors' impacts, carrying capacity has been largely re-conceptualized into management by objectives approaches, namely: the limits of acceptable change (LAC), and the visitor experience and resource protection (VERP) as the two planning and management decision-making processes based on the new understanding of carrying capacity (Lindberg and McCool, 1998). These two have been deemed more appropriate in the tourism planning processes of protected areas, especially in the United States, and have over the years been adapted and modified for use in sustainable tourism and ecotourism contexts (Wallace, 1993; McCool, 1994; Harroun and Boo, 1995).


APPENDIX 1. Framework guidelines for assessing carrying capacityThe main points from Lim (1995a) are summarised below with the intention of assisting and guiding the implementation of carrying capacity studies. This broad framework can be used as a reference document, but the final output and conclusions will depend on the nature of each study area and its values.GENERAL APPROACHES TO ASSESSING CARRYING CAPACITY1. Define the carrying capacity that needs to be established for the study area:Options: tourism carrying capacity recreation carrying capacity othersConsider the above from one or more of the following perspectives: physical carrying capacity ecological carrying capacity social carrying capacity economic carrying capacityConsider factors that affect the overall capacity of an area:Options: access capacity commercial capacity construction capacity service capacity transport capacity others2. Consider the type of tourism existing or being planned from the following contexts: physical social cultural infrastructure economic benefits tourism image indigenous environment others3. List the objectives of the area:Options: conservation of natural resources preservation of areas of unique scientific, historical and cultural value preservation of heritage tourism and recreation employment opportunities othersEcological and social consequences of use should be consistent with area management objectives. If an area has more than one objective, then state the objective of highest priority.In the Spey Valley example, Getz (1981) assessed the key indicators of impact by reference to the objectives of tourist development boards, and subsequently derived quantifiable and subjective criteria (Table I). This is useful for monitoring the impacts of tourism on an area.TABLE I. KEY INDICATORS FOR ASSESSING IMPACT IN SPEY VALLEYOBJECTIVESQUANTIFIABLE CRITERIASUBJECTIVE CRITERIAPopulation stabilised (or growth encouraged) out-migration halted in-migration as needed age/sex structure balanced types of in-migrants expectations/motivations of in-migrants choice of locationOpportunities for employment increased new jobs created in tourism indirect generation of jobs reduce unemployment increase activity rates retain jobs which might be lost; avoid job displacement jobs to benefit special needs opportunity for choice opportunity for advancement satisfaction with jobsIncomes increased raise personal and household incomes minimise inflation raise local authority income risks of dependency on tourism who benefits most?Viability of communities enhanced and efficient use made of resources infrastructure, services and facilities made adequate housing and supply of land made adequate employment, commuting and strategies for public transport attitudes toward change leadership (availability and quality) satisfaction with conditions, and preference for living environmentsWelfare and social integration fostered crime, police work and social work problems minimised health and other essential services improved and distributed equitably integration of newcomers (types of newcomers; their expectations and actions; attitudes towards them)Cultural wealth strengthened maintenance of traditions facilities encouragement of events degree of commercialisation satisfaction with traditional way of life leadershipLeisure choice increased facilities provided and used membership in groups changing patterns of activity cost of participation satisfaction with opportunities for leisure; preferences and expectations special needs catered for; appropriateness of facilitiesConservation assisted preservation of unique cultural and natural features avoidance of pollution, litter and fire effective management provided benefits and costs, versus development attitudes to conservation environmental preferencesAmenity enhanced avoidance of crowding, noise and loss of privacy visual amenity preferences level of satisfaction4. Establish criteria that affect capacity: (a) Physical: area size accessible space visual impact climate aesthetics accommodation quality availability of facilities transportation number of people that can be accommodated others (b) Ecological: the need for conservation fragility of the environment wildlife resources topography vegetative cover behavioural sensitivity of species diversity uniqueness of species concealment resilience of ecosystem/species impact of use on the area others For coral reefs, the following must also be taken into account: size and shape of reef: composition of coral communities: type of underwater activity: level of experience of divers/snorkellers: others: (c) Economic: investment volume of tourists cost of the holiday level of economic benefits provided level of enjoyment suited to the residents others (d) Cultural: volume of tourism with no detrimental effects cultural attractions quality of crafts and food involvement of local communities/residents others (e) Social: visitors' choice visitors' opinions visitors' attitude and behaviour expectations and preferences perceptual and behavioural response response to rising use levels visitors' activities visitor satisfaction acceptable level of crowding involvement of local communities/residents others (f) Availability of resources and infrastructure: cash incentives public utilities transport facilities essential facilities e.g. hospitals availability of water supply proper disposal of solid and liquid wastes others (g) Administrative and political factors: level at which management is implemented legal restraints policy incentives others For example, Getz (1981), when assessing the capacity of the Spey Valley, formulated responses to such criteria (Table II).Variations in criteria should also be considered: seasonably developing tourism areas- optimise benefits- ensure negative impacts of saturation do not occur developed tourism areas- emphasise management rather than planning others5. Establish thresholds or tolerable levels of use that can act as management guidelines: (cf. Getz, 1981; Table II).Options: physical economic ecological perceptual social/cultural political/administrative othersBear in mind that thresholds may be eventually reached, or may change with time.TABLE II. CRITERIA IN THE MEASUREMENT OF CAPACITY TO ABSORB TOURISM IN SPEY VALLEYCRITERIAPHYSICALECONOMICECOLOGICALPERCEPTUALSOCIAL/CULTURALPOLITICAL/ADMINISTRATIVESOME COMPONENTS FOR MEASUREMENT Accessibility Accommodation Transportation Space/Land Infrastructure Attractions Capital investment Running costs Opportunity costs Effects on other sectors Labour supply/skills Inflation Supply and demand Changes in natural processes Risk of fire, litter, pollution, erosion Viability of wildlife and vegetation Scenery User preferences and motivations Activities Population stability Migration Standard of living Services and amenities Stress, hazards Community viability Attitudes and social problems Satisfactions Traditions, language Plans and programmes Policy priorities Receptiveness to change Assistance given to developmentPOSSIBLE THRESHOLDS Physical limits of supply Dangerous crowding Inadequate funds Better alternatives become available Uncontrolled inflation Critical shortage of labour or skills Excessive competition Serious damage to other sectors Uniqueness lost or threatened Disaster expected Changes irrevocable User dissatisfaction Failure to attract tourists Major change in landscape quality Valued traditions lost Inequitable spread of benefits so that locals are dominated by newcomers Serious crime or disruption Great resentment of tourists Inability to achieve objectives Failure to cope with pressures Costs cannot be recoveredPROBLEMS Physical limits can be altered Supply can be substituted Economy fluctuates Markets can be created/changed Competition prevents some choices Difficulty to forecast viability Management can alter effects and processes What are acceptable changes? Difficult to predict impacts Management can reduce problems User perceptions differ Different user-groups can be attracted to area Attitudes change, and residents adapt Definition of benefits varies with the level of community examines (local, regional and national perspectives) How much change is acceptable? Problems can be ameliorated by services Co-operation between agencies and levels difficult to achieve Priorities can change Programmes can always be made more efficientOBSERVATIONS IN SPEY VALLEY Facilities inadequate at peak times Infrastructure deficiency in some villages Large surplus of accommodation, except at peaks High demand for labour and shortage of local skills, but transients fill the needs Financial restraints prevent some needed instruments Some inflation of costs in land and housing No evidence of major damage, but... Pressures in central corridor are great Wilderness value of has been compromised Some visitors alienated by changes, but... User choice has expanded Crowding at peaks reduces satisfaction Rural atmosphere is compromised Satisfaction generally high Benefits not fully available to natives Social problems arise from tourists and transients Serious shortage of housing Pro-growth sentiment dominates plans and priorities Some conflict exists between national and local/regional interests over conservation6. Assess the carrying capacity of the area: (a) Physical carrying capacity (i) Consider in terms of time and space variables, and tourist function rates.Time: peak capacity daily capacity weekly capacity yearly capacity seasonal and diurnal othersSpace: space coefficients unit measures density zones equipment ratios othersTourist function rates: ratios othersThreshold capacities: economic viability water resources othersNon-measurable criteria (use comparative analyses): ecological impacts cultural impacts psychological effects others (ii) Apply Boullon's (1985) formula.The total number of allowed daily visits is then obtained: Total daily visits = Carrying capacity x Rotation coefficientThe rotation coefficient is thus determined: (b) Social carrying capacity (i) Establish conditions requiring judgmental inputs (Shelby & Heberlein, 1984): relationship between use levels/management parameters and experience parameters agreement about the type of recreational experience to be provided agreement about the appropriate levels of experience parameters (ii) Document visitor particulars and activities, as well as their expectations and preferences. Then a theoretical evaluation based on experience and accumulated knowledge can be used for comparative analyses.Options: frequency of site visits group size length of stay activity patterns expectations and preferences others (c) Ecological carrying capacity (i) Consider the level of ecological use the area can support. (ii) Consider if factors such as the following are at risk: soil erosion pollution of water resources landslides loss of species others (iii) Assess the capability of the area to cope with increased water demand and waste disposal. (d) Recreation carrying capacity (requires an assessment of both environmental and social capacities) (i) Apply the ROS process to establish the acceptable numbers of visitors suited to each zone: visitor surveys density guidelines others (ii) Describe observable characteristics and carry out evaluation which involves judgements on acceptability of impacts (Graefe et al, 1984):Description: management parameters impact parametersEvaluation: measurable non-measurable absolute empirical terms othersMANAGEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES1. Consider the stage of the tourism life cycle that the area is in, and manage accordingly:Options: exploration stage growth/development stage mature/consolidation stage decline stage2. Zone the area according to its use and objectives, and develop specific management plans for each zone:For example: primitive rural suburban urban others3. If in line with management objectives, consider ways to increase the carrying capacity of the area:Options: establish quotas which set numerical limits on visitors reduce conflict between competing uses provide adequate information increase durability of resources expand the capacities of utility services expand the capacities of transport facilities de


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