4 | Case Study:
A Coastal Resort Where Nature is the Main Attraction

Coral reef teeming with fish

Consider a particular type of resort: one which attracts nature-loving tourists, such as snorkellers and divers wishing to explore healthy coral reefs teeming with fish. If the fish disappear, so too will the tourists.

Let's explore the dynamics of such a system. First, we'll need to introduce a few systems concepts and tools.

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Ocean Literacy Concepts

The Effects of Human Activity on the Ocean

Human development and activity leads to pollution, changes to ocean chemistry (ocean acidification) and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores and rivers). [Ocean Literacy Principle 6d].

Our Responsibility

Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all. [Ocean Literacy Principle 6g].

Systems Concepts

Goal of a System

All systems have a function or purpose, though it is not always obvious. For example, the function of the digestive system is to break down food. The purpose of a football team is to win games. What is (or should be) the goal of a coastal tourism system?

Causal Loops Diagrams

The next diagram shows causal connections between parts of the system.

Feedback Loops

Follow the arrows in a Causal Loop Diagram to find circles - these are feedback loops. They govern the behaviour of the system.

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What are the Dynamics?

How to read the Causal Loop Diagram below:

Causal loop diagram: tourism and its effect on the natural environment

Attractiveness depends on BOTH Advertising & Environmental Quality

INCREASING Advertising INCREASES Attractiveness INCREASES Tourists
DECREASING Advertising DECREASES Attractiveness DECREASES Tourists

INCREASING Tourists DECREASES Environmental Quality
DECREASING Tourists INCREASES Environmental Quality

DECREASING Environmental Quality DECREASES Attractiveness DECREASES Tourists

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Question 7:

Reading the Causal Loop Diagram, which statements are true?

Check all that apply:

An increase in Advertising decreases Attractiveness
An increase in Tourists increases Environmental Quality
A decrease in Tourists increases Environmental Quality
Both Environmental Quality and Advertising increase Attractiveness
More Tourists means lower Environmental Quality, and in turn, lower Attractiveness

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Explore for yourself:

Change the level of advertising to see the effect on BOTH tourist numbers AND environmental quality.



Note: The term 'advertising' is used broadly here, to include the many forms of promotion, including magazine features and social media.

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Question 8:

As you experiment with the advertising level in the simulation, which statements are true?

Check all that apply:

Increasing advertising increases overall tourist numbers
Increasing tourist numbers increases environmental quality
Advertising appears to be a powerful 'leverage point' in the system
Higher tourist numbers cause faster decline in environmental quality
Advertising level has a strong but indirect effect on environmental quality

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