Towards Sustainable Tourism

Hotels and Investment Decisions

Previously, we added tourists and explored their effect on the local environment. On this final page, we add hotels. Hotels increase attractiveness to tourists, and more tourists means more income. If profits are channeled only into building more hotels, then tourist numbers will keep rising, and the environmental quality will keep declining. If, instead, some of the profits are invested in the environment, then this can contribute to a more sustainable pattern.

Moderate Advertising

If, at the same time, advertising is kept to a reasonable, lower level, then tourist numbers will not overwhelm the ability of the environment to regenerate itself.

Your turn to experiment!

The graphs below show the typical pattern of unsustainable tourism. Try to turn the situation around to make it sustainable. Experiment with decreasing the Advertising rate and the Hotel Investment Rate, and increasing the Investment in the Environment. See what happens to the number of tourists and the environmental quality. Sustainability means that tourists keep coming while the quality of the environment remains acceptable.


Hotel Investment Rate

Investment in the Environment

The System Dynamics Model Diagram

The model below is the most complex so far and shows how many factors interact. It underlies the simulated graphs shown above. We've analysed the model carefully by trying different values for different variables, and we've found that the most significant for producing sustainability are advertising and investment decisions.

Modelling and simulation are powerful tools to help understand a complex system's behaviour, and to deal with difficult problems in the real world by testing different decision-making strategies.

'As our world continues to change rapidly and become more complex, systems thinking will help us manage, adapt, and see the wide range of choices we have before us. It is a way of thinking that gives us the freedom to identify root causes of problems and see new opportunities.'
- Donella H. Meadows