Carrying Capacity of Tourism System: Assessment of Environmental and Management Constraints Towards Sustainability

  • Castellani V
  • Sal S
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The tourism sector accounts nowadays for about 10% of world GDP (source: World Travel & Tourism Council – WTTC) and it is widely acknowledged that tourism activities depend highly on the quality of natural resources (see, among others, Inskeep, 1991). Thus, the aim of sustainable tourism development plans, in order to reach sustainable development goals, should be the decoupling of economic growth from natural environment depletion, through the definition of more sustainable patterns of production and consumption in tourism activities, as also stated by international and European resolutions about sustainable development (see, for instance, the Reviewed Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Integrated Product Policy, the Action Plan on the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy, the Renewed EU Tourism Policy). Considering that to reach this goal and to set targets for improvement the basic requirement is to investigate the physical and managing limits of the system, carrying capacity evaluation seems to be a useful concept to support the definition of local management strategies and plans for sustainable tourism. Starting from these considerations, the present research focuses on the evaluation of sustainability in the tourism sector with the aim to develop a method for assessing the physical and environmental carrying capacity of tourism destinations, as a tool to analyze the sustainability of the current situation and to determine to which extent a rise in visitors number could affect the quality of the environment, the availability of resources and the quality of public services. The final aim of the study is to provide results supported by quantitative data, overcoming the qualitative approach, which is more common in tourism carrying capacity evaluation (Prato, 2001).




Castellani, V., & Sal, S. (2012). Carrying Capacity of Tourism System: Assessment of Environmental and Management Constraints Towards Sustainability. In Visions for Global Tourism Industry - Creating and Sustaining Competitive Strategies. InTech.

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