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Management Approaches and Related Concepts (1)
Management Approaches and Related Concepts (1)
In the previous section, we discussed two main types of impacts studies, physical and scientific studies and perceptual studies. And we finish by looking at three types of results, point, lines and areas, as a simple way of looking at management possibilities. Now I want move further to discuss management approaches and related concepts. The material that I’m going to cover was pioneered by geographers working for the US Department of Agriculture. They were working primarily in the context of national parks where people were visiting remote relatively natural areas.
Nowadays however, while visiting numbers have increased in urban areas, we see the same ideas been employed in urban areas and cities, and sometimes it is difficult to transfer the ideas from one location to another. I want to touch on four topics. First, carrying capacity, which is widely discussed in both recreation and tourism literatures. Then because carrying capacity became very difficult to use, the alternative idea of limits of acceptable change. Next, some ideas concerning site management, and finally notions of opportunities spectrums.
Carrying capacity has two main aspects to it, environmental and behavioral. These have a relationship to our early discussion of physical or scientific studies and perceptual studies. A definition of carrying capacity is the maximum of number of people that can use a site without an expectable decline in the quality of the environment or the quality of the visitor experience. The idea is that as numbers of visitors increase, eventually a critic point is reached which should not be exceeded, because the resources and visitor experience would be destroyed. But there are other aspects to capacity as well, the capacity of support facilities, such as the number of parking spaces, or the number of hotel rooms.
It’s useful to bear these in mind, because the provision of such facilities can be used to manage the number of people that can use an area. There may even be economic capacities, both low number and high number. So, for example, one may need to have a certain number of visitors to make it worthwhile to provide facilities such as wash rooms and collect garbage, so there may be minimum as well as maximum capacities. And the number of stakeholders involved may mean that different stakeholders may have different views on what the probably the numbers of visitors are.
The views of residents, the views of visitors, the views of the business community may in fact be different, and that gives us additional management challenges.
The idea of capacity is that there is a maximum number of people that can be cater to, and once that is exceeded the system falls apart, both environmentally and in terms of quality of experience. But in fact, it is difficult to calculate what that number might be. In fact, I know of no way where such numbers can be calculated in advance. And the activities of visitors, what the visitors actually do is just as important as the actual number of visitors themselves, but if you only concentrate on the number of visitors then you miss many possible management opportunities. And the quality of experience is not always inversely related to the numbers of visitors.
In the natural area where most of early studies were done, it was assumed that as more and more visitors came, the quality of the experiences would be reduced. But that’s not always true in other situations, often in special events, festivals, sporting events and so on. The crowds, the large numbers of visitors add to the excitement. If you go to a party, and you are the person of the party, it’s not much fun. So, the assumption of managing for low numbers of visitors does not always hold true, particularly in urban settings.
Also, capacity can be influenced by management, and the activities of managers to modify the site can change the number of visitors they can accommodate. Consider a large open grass area, if people are picnicking, they would stay to the edge of that grass area and would not picnic in the middle of the large open space where they have very little privacy. However, if you plant a line of trees or a hedge in the middle of the grass area, you will find that some people will picnic by those trees or by the hedge where they now have some privacy by the new vegetation. So, the manager has manipulated the character capacity by changing the environment.
But managers of natural areas are often reluctant to modify environment to change capacity, they see themselves managing place to perpetuate a natural process and don’t want to interfere too much. In the literature, you would say there is confusion between density and crowding. Density is an objective measure of the number of people per unit area, the number of people per hectare, for example, which can be calculated although it will change a little bit if one manipulates the size of area and boundaries of the area of one study. Crowding is a human perception, and people may not feel crowded even though there may be a large number of other people present.
It varies with their situation, it also varies with their culture, and I will have something more to say about that later. So, carrying capacity is something which people say has been disapproved, but not disapproved. It’s been disapproved because it’s an idea which is received a lot of publicity, it’s an idea which has been very difficult to work with. One of the reasons for this is that land and water does not have any inherent capacity. Of course, some areas can more readily stand a large amount of views than others, some areas will recovery more quickly than others.
But actually, the number of people that can use an area depends very much on the goals and objectives that are set for that area. that are set for that area. If you have an area, and you want to use it as a nature reserve, then ideally that should be no visitors. If you want to use it as a soccer field, then it’s fairly obvious that there are eleven people aside on play soccer, so there will be 22 players. If you want to use the same area as a theme park, then you could get more and more people in. So, the idea of capacity is meaningless without the statement of the clear goals and objectives.
So, the specification of goals and objectives is very important. And unfortunately, still in many tourism planning management situations, people specify goals in terms of numbers of visitors. Actually, it is easy to get more and more visitors just give them free trips, but that is ridiculous. So, the true goal and objective is not always to get more visitors, it’s really to use more visitors to meet different goals and objectives, such as improving incomes, or protecting heritage, or something else. So, it is very very important that we are very clear about what goals and objectives are. Why we want tourism? Because tourism is often a way of addressing other problems rather than an end in itself.
There is no magic number or carrying capacity that can be approached with impunity and exceeded at peril. Management is required from beginning of tourism, not just when some supposed carrying capacity is reached.
In fact, it‘s worth asking a question, if a carrying capacity could be calculated accurately and everybody agreed on it, would in fact management be made easier? I suspect it would still be very difficult. Because one still has what I called allocation problem, you have to decide who is allowed in and who is not allowed in, that become another difficult issue. So, just calculating a magic number I think is an over simplification. A net word is regenerated of this concept found and they move on to discuss other possible concepts, which we would discuss in the next section.
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In this session, Professor Geoffrey Wall will talk about the management approaches and related concepts, especially the carrying capacity.
We would like to invite you to share some thoughts in the comments section below.
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Tourism Policy and Planning
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