• Guidelines for destination management based on carryng capacity and tourism flows models
The Client : Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije, Ministrstvo za gospodarski razvoj in tehnologijo ( V5-1724 )
Project type: Research projects ARRS
Project duration: 2018 - 2019
  • Description

Proposed research project is answering to the need for ensuring sustainable development
in tourism. Tourism has significant impact to problems of sustainability. Environmental
program of United Nations recognizes that uncontrolled conventional development presents
potential hazards for many natural areas around the world. Tourism causes enormous
pressure on nature, affects soil erosion, increases pollution, emissions of dangerous
substances into the sea, the loss of a natural habitat, and increases the risk of forest fire.
This is supported by growing number of examples. Passenger ships in the Caribbean
generate more than 70,000 tons of waste annually. The development of tourist
infrastructure in Yosemite National Park in the US has caused such a terrible pollution of the
environment that loss of protected species has occurred, and extreme smog enabled to see
the Yosemite Valley from the plane. European destinations, such as Barcelona and Venice,
have been facing protests from local population against further tourism development. The
cruiser ship almost damaged the walls of the old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Closer to
home, deputy manager of local tourism organization in Bled appealed to locals to postpone
their daily trips due overcrowdings. So, there is a challenge to find effective ways for
reducing environmental damage caused by tourism activity, both at global and local level.
The purpose of this project is to understand and strengthen the carrying capacity of tourist
destinations in Slovenia with the aim of developing and testing a model for measuring carry
capacity and visitor management and proposing guidelines for tourism destinations
management.

The project will combine advanced models of destination management based on tourist
flows with models of carrying capacity of tourist destinations. This is new approach. Several
models of carrying capacity have been developed in the last six decades. Unfortunately,
they offered a few practical solutions. Basically, such models are diagnostic. On contrary
visitor flows are practical, since they identify repeatable movement of tourists in the
geographical area. The basis of the flow is the monitoring of the behavior and movement of
tourists, as well as the understanding of destinations through flows and not geographically
rigorously defined areas. In this way, we can better understand behavior and habits of
tourists. This allows us to predict, which tourist destinations will be visited by tourists in the
sequence. In addition, the 'bottlenecks' of the visit can be determined on the basis of flows.
These crisis points can then be assessed by directing visitations to less-visited locations.
Routing is possible through better management or by upgrading the tourist product. As an
example we can take an exorbitant visit to the Ljubljana Castle and insufficient visit to the
BTC shopping center. The solution in this case could be improved transport infrastructure
and the connection between the center of Ljubljana and BTC. The basis of tourism flows is
therefore the development and upgrading of existing experiences. We are upgrading these
based on behavioral data, which enable us to develop much better understanding than the
cumulative data provided by current statistics.

The implementation plan of the project is based on six content sets or work packages. In
the first work package, we will perform literature review of the existing carrying capacity
models and comparative analysis of foreign practices. This will enable understanding and
classification of the concept of carrying capacity and understanding of its use, challenges
and solutions in comparable destinations abroad. In the second work package, we will
identify visitors flows in order to better understand visitation patterns and interconnection
of Slovenian destinations based on the advanced data available on the tourist web 2.0. We
will focus on 2.0 user generated content, particularly to user entrees on travel 2.0 sites,
which typically include geolocation data and time of visit, as well as an anonymous site user
identifier. Such an approach is cost-effective and provides access to longitudinal data. The
privacy requirements for website users (tourists) are fully met, as individuals voluntarily
share data in public space. We nevertheless use the anonymized identifiers generated by
sites that cannot be linked to an actual individual identity since all analysis will aggregate
form, as our approach is centered on the behavior of large groups and not on the behavior
of individuals. In the third work package, we will develop a conceptual model of the carrying
capacity for tourist destinations, which will include a quantitative assessment of the carrying
capacities in: environmental, social, economic and political pillar, and the analysis of tourist
flows. In the fourth work package we will test the model. By setting indicators we will
identify crisis zones or destinations that need management guidelines. Based on the
already achieved identification of tourist flows at the level of Slovenia and surrounding
destinations, we will examine the connection of crisis zones with other destinations from the
perspective of tourists. In order to better understand the internal dynamics of the behavior
of tourists in the crisis zones, we will identify visitors flows again, but this time at the level
of individual crisis zones. The fifth work package is based on qualitative analysis and
participation of stakeholders in selected zones. With tourism stakeholders we will first
define tourist flows through qualitative analysis. We will compare these with flow based on
user generated content. Together with the stakeholders, we will use the variable geometry
to define strategic and niche tourist flows for each zone or destination, and identify
bottlenecks (crisis points). With the help of the product matrix methodology, we will identify
the necessary measures (infrastructural, managerial and marketing) by individual zones or
destinations. In the last, sixth package, we will propose strategic guidelines for improving
the existing guidelines for the sustainable development of tourism in Slovenia (for example,
the project can upgrade the guidelines of the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism).

The project has a significant contribution in several areas. For tourist destinations, we will
provide guidelines for sustainable management and in this way influence the reduction of
environmental and social damage to the tourist economy in Slovenia and beyond its
borders. Project is also aligned with goals of Slovenian Tourism development strategy 2017-
2021. Strategy vision is to create 5-star experiences of a green, active and healthy boutique
tourism products for all tourists visiting Slovenia. With customized data collection and data
analysis based on the big data we will be able to understand customers needs better and
to facilitate the process of developing 5 star experiences. The Slovenian tourist economy will
thus become more competitive, and will consolidate its position as a green destination. The
contribution of the project to the development of science is also significant. The project is
built on the latest findings in the field of destination management, using advanced
methodology and integration of the concept of visitors flows with carrying capacity. The
project team, which has been active in the field for several years, will disseminate project
results through publications in reputable international journals.