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Modelling socio-ecological tourism-based systems for sustainability

D. Lacitignola, I. Petrosillo, M. Cataldi and G. Zurlini

Ecological Modelling, 2007, vol. 206, issue 1, 191-204

Abstract: The analysis of socio-ecological systems requires new, qualitatively distinct, evaluation schemes and appropriate investigation tools that enable an integrated assessment of ecological, social, and economic factors since human land use is a major force driving landscape change, landscape dynamics can be better understood in the context of complex social-ecological systems (SESs). Tourist resorts are deemed as socio-ecological systems, and tourism is a tool for development but could affect the quality of ecosystem goods and services since it could degrade natural renewable and non-renewable resources. In this paper we develop a minimal descriptive model of socio-ecological systems based on tourism, starting from the work of Casagrandi and Rinaldi [Casagrandi, R., Rinaldi, S., 2002. A theoretical approach to tourism sustainability. Conserv. Ecol. 6 (1), 13 (Online). URL:], and based on data from a real tourist destination in southern Italy. We develop the model focusing on the interplay among tourists (T), quality of ecosystem goods and services (E), and capital (C), intended as accommodation and entertainment facilities, to make the model more realistic, and to provide a tool for scenario building to support more effectively sustainable management of tourist destination. In particular, we focus on the interplay between tourism and ecosystem quality, distinguishing two main tourist typologies – mass and eco-tourists – and taking into account ecosystem quality in terms of ecosystem goods and services, with a time dependent function, and defining a degradation coefficient of tourist site to be used as a bifurcation parameter. We explore different scenarios, with regards to coexistence of tourist classes and equilibria stability, as generated by variation of the bifurcation parameter. Finally, we discuss the overall results in terms of basins of attraction and stability landscape, and system resilience together with their implications for sustainable tourist destination management.

Keywords: Tourism; Socio-ecological systems; Modelling; Ecosystem quality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecomod:v:206:y:2007:i:1:p:191-204