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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds The concept of carrying capacity originally comes from agriculture, namely sheep farming; to define the maximum population that an environment can sustain indefinitely, given the current resources.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds Due to its effectiveness and adaptability, the concept was reviewed and applied in many fields, including tourism. An excessive number of tourists can cause pollution, physical damage, loss and degradation of landscape, including destruction of flora and fauna, water shortages, and disruption of wildlife cycles and behaviours. Open space and agricultural lands may also be lost to tourism development. These effects negatively impact the quality of life of residents, the tourist experience, and appreciation of heritage values. The carrying capacity of a tourist destination thus represents the number of tourists which is considered acceptable, so as to avoid the triggering of such negative phenomena. In this sense, qualitative and quantitative methods have been developed to estimate the carrying capacity of a destination.

Carrying capacity: an introduction

The term ‘carrying capacity’ represents an important tool in tourism planning. It’s one of the mechanisms for establishing standards for sustainable tourism and cultural and natural resources preservation.

A dilemma eventually exists for tourism managers: maximise profits or reduce the number of visitors?

Your task

Share your thoughts on whether tourism managers should be responsible for maximising profits or reducing the number of visitors to destinations.

Further reading

Santoso, E. B., Erli, H. K. D. M., Aulia, B. U., & Ghozali, A. (2014). Concept of Carrying Capacity: Challenges in Spatial Planning (Case Study of East Java Province, Indonesia). Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 135, 130–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.07.336 </sub>

Smith, O. (2018, April 9). Paradise lost: Beautiful islands ruined by tourism. The Telegraph https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/beautiful-islands-ruined-by-tourism/ </sub>

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Overtourism

Coventry University