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Carrying capacity and sustainable tourism development

Carrying capacity is defined as maximum number of individuals than a given environment can support without any adverse impact on it.

Since long researchers have spent considerable time to understand the implication of the concept of carrying capacity in context of the tourism destinations. The advantages and disadvantages of limiting the numbers of visitors and as a consequence the imposing restrictions on transportation means, issuing licenses for new accommodation etc. had been the focus areas of this ongoing debate. Thais has become even more pertinent with the recent concern of developing sustainable tourism throughout the world. It is well understood that imposing limits to tourism activities will ensure a better and effectively managed industry growth. A more efficient and effective management of the industry’s growth can augment the sustainability of the tourism destination.

However, arriving at a maximum number of tourists to be allowed in a destination is not an easy task since it is characterized by several constraints. For instance, its not just the volume of the tourists that affects the environment (including cultural), but tourists’ behaviour is more responsible for the damage. In case of tourism marginal damage also decreases with the increases of level of use. A small number of tourists can destroy the vegetation along a mountain trail; so, the extra usage of the same trail by a larger number of tourists does relatively less additional damage.

As a matter of fact, tourist destinations have multiple carrying capacities which are determined by objectives of a specific destination development. The carrying capacity will differ from place to place even if the location endowments are the same. It is the development goals and objectives set by and for the host community which should ultimately determine the carrying capacities of the location. It’s critically linked with the acceptable limits of change for the stakeholders of a destination. This issue is a crucial one for any destination development plan and the complexity of the issue demands that the planners need to be extra careful before number crunching for establishing the carrying capacity of any tourism destination.

This article is written by Dripto Dripto Mukhopadhyay, Vice President at Indicus Analytics. Read his public LinkedIn profile .
This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’

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Posted in Development, India, Performance and management, Policy, Sustainability, World.

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