Tools, patterns and econometric models to improve tourism policies and plans

With the aim of improving tourism policies and support stakeholders to better managing tourism conflicts, a set of tools are issued specifically to assess the carrying capacities and the optimal level of pressures to maximise tourism revenue.

Project tools are tested in cultural destinations, consistency with the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) approaches.

Here you can see the summaries of the Studies. The complete documents are available at this link.

3.2.1 - Identification of major challenges and local/global trends, analysing mega trends, sample surveys and scenarios Maps


The ShapeTourism project aims to develop a Smart Integrated Tourism Data System (SITDS) for monitoring the dynamics of tourism development and assessing the state of the mediterranean coastal regions sustainability, as well as for supporting decision-making using scenarios maps on tourism trends. This system takes the form of an online, interactive and user-friendly tool with the function of data visualization.

The SITDS supports private and public stakeholders who have to make the best business and management decisions in the Mediterranean regions, as quickly as possible, based on reliable data. The primary data supporting this tool were collected through a transnational survey. Furthermore, this tool is powered by secondary data published by Eurostat. 

In second half of 2017, the ShapeTourism research team launched a census survey on a population of 9.000 tourism-related stakeholders from nine countries of the so-called Med area (eligible regions of the Med Cooperation Programm 2014-2020). Through this survey, we are able to share the stakeholders’ perceptions on tourism dynamics and trends and their reactions on global trends for tourism sustainability. This survey also gives insights both on sustainability practices for tourism development and challenges to adopt sustainable tourism practices over the next years. In addition, we also surveyed public and private stakeholders on perception regarding the stage of the life cycle of their destination, to see how aligned the stakeholders’ perceptions are with actual tourism area life cycle.

Users of this tool may visualize results of the survey on a number of issues like tourism dynamics and trends in each region, local reactions on global trends/challenges for tourism sustainability, perceptions on the destination life cycle, and tourism externalities at economic, social and environmental levels. In addition, users may visualize impacts of a set of demand and supply scenarios on coastal and non-coastal Med regions. Effects of the scenarios on those Med regions in 2020, 2025 and 2030 are measured by tourism carrying capacity indicators, at physical, sociocultural and economic levels.

This work is just the beginning, because with uniform and comparable information available in the SITDS, we want to set of discussions and to help destination leaders and planners develop their own approach and build a path forward. The usefulness of the information published in the SITDS will be as much important as stakeholders are willing to identify and face the barriers that may prevent the destinations from making them more sustainable.

Given that the decisions of the stakeholders are complex, and that only with reliable information about different dimensions of analysis will be possible to make better decisions, we believe that our contribution has added value because it can help stakeholders of the destinations to begin to face the global challenges with more sustainable tourism development planning.

If you would like more information, or have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact us. On behalf of the ShapeTourism research team, we would also like to thank the five hundred of survey respondents who generously gave their time to contribute to this study. Without their insights, this research would not have been possible.

3.2.2 - Evaluation tool and scenarions maps


In the second half of 2017 the ShapeTourism project run a transnational survey to undertake stakeholders’ perception on global tourism dynamics and trends in the Mediterranean regions. The survey targeted a wide range of tourism-related stakeholders, from nine countries of the Mediterranean area, including public and private agents, among others. Almost 500 stakeholders completed this survey.

The main objectives of the ShapeTourism Mediterranean Tourism Stakeholders’ Survey were:

To understand local reactions on global trends for tourism sustainability;

To measure tourism externalities;

To assess perceptions of stakeholders regarding the stage of the life cycle of their destination;

To identify sustainable practices incorporated in the private stakeholders’ operations as well as barriers and challenges for adoption these practices;

To assess the public stakeholders’ opinion on how enhancing sustainability of tourism development and operations. 

Selected key findings

1. Tourism is very dynamic in the Mediterranean area:

More than half (55%) of stakeholders report that their region is investing more in tourism nowadays then 3 years ago and about two thirds (65%) feel that their region is recruiting more workers this year than 3 years ago;

More than half (52%) of stakeholders report that their region is diversifying the tourism offer this year.

2. Positive externalities do not mitigate negative impacts of tourism 

Despite the fact that 62% of stakeholders report that tourism increases income levels and standard of living and 76% say that tourism benefits other economic activities in their region, over one third (37%) of stakeholders declare that tourism produces long-term negative effects on the environment;

In addition, 40% of stakeholders think that tourism puts strong pressure on land use and loss of aesthetic landscape values.

3. Sustainable practices are moderately incorporated in business operations, but more steps further are needed

More than three quarters of stakeholders report that they have incorporated a couple sustainable practices in the operations. 

However, a significant number of stakeholders declare that they are not implementing practices to limit visitor access to sensitive natural, cultural and historic resources, implementing environmental education programs for visitors, using renewable energy sources and establishing a “green culture” in the workplace. 

An in-depth analysis
The ShapeTourism Mediterranean Tourism Stakeholders’ Survey provides a unique insight into the state of health of tourism in the Mediterranean area today. A complete in-depth analysis may done by you in our tool available at our website. With our tool, you can visualize maps or charts with results of each variable by NUTS 1 and NUTS 2. Furthermore, you can:

Compare results from one region with the ones from other regions;

Analyse cross-tabulation results using up to two personal or organizational characteristics;

See rankings of regions per variable.

3.3.1 - Basis for a Sustainable Med destinations development Plan focus on cultural assets


In order to establish the bases of an asset exploitation plan, the main goal of this report 3.3.1, we have elaborated a sustainability tourism management approach integrating the Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM) into the sustainability framework. The resulting holistic model is useful for assuring the ex-ante coherence, pertinence and relevance of the plan, therefore ensuring its implementation.

The Socio-Economic Approach to Management (Savall and Zardet, 2003) offers an alternative understanding about economic, social and environmental inefficiencies of the current Med touristic development model that obstructs sustainability, and offers tools for management and touristic planning. The methodology and main conclusions are as follows. 

To identify the most statistically significant assets to be exploited in the plan, we have done two quantitative estimates –one on attractiveness and another focused on growth– to integrate the assets and levers into the plan (as part of the definition of the sustainability objectives). The quantitative estimation of a unique database elaborated in this project has empirically corroborated the suitability of a plan based on cultural assets and the attainment of economic objectives via the attainment of socio-environmental ones. The estimated models have shown the important role of cultural and environmental assets in the attractiveness and GDP generation of MED tourism.

The qualitative diagnosis undertaken has allowed us to evince the dysfunctions that threaten the sustainability of coastal tourism in the MED area. The bibliographical revision has been fundamental and the methodology has capitalized on existing studies. Med plans and projects and European documents have been used to map dysfunctions and objectives that represent the stakeholders’ voice. In summary, they reveal that the business model based on low prices and bad working conditions is inefficient because it generates important hidden costs and limits the capacity to produce value in a territory.

To shape a plan, we mapped objectives and strategic actions and selected the ones that simultaneously target economic, social and environmental dimensions. The Internal-External Strategic Action Plan (IESAP) tool proposed by SEAM has been used to ensure the connection between the objectives and the prospective actions. In consequence, we propose here a true internal metamorphosis -a change to an innovative and sustainable model, based on the development of the human and organisational capital of tourism- in order to create more complex products, anchored in culture. 

In order to do so, the bases for a coherent, pertinent and relevant plan of variable geometry have been set here, articulated in five axes: a) promoting continuous dynamics of improvement of the offer of cultural tourism products; b) enriching the tourist offer using local resources; c) marketing an integrated brand for Med cultural destinations; d) creating smart destinations; e) and improving internal organization and governance in the public and private institutions of destinations. Each axis is in turn articulated into priority objectives and actions through the lens of governance, for which sustainable development must be assimilated not as a short-term change to reduce the social and environmental impact of tourism, but as a long-term metamorphosis. This would imply a model that creates added value by improving the social and environmental conditions in which tourism is developed (in contrast to the competition on prices, the overexploitation of territorial resources and the deterioration of work conditions to reduce visible costs).

Aware of the problems and difficulties that a change of model entails, we posit that the risk analysis and the monitoring of a vulnerability logbook are fundamental. These will constitute the subject of report 3.3.2.

3.3.2 - Risk Analysis Report


Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process leaning on innovation and uncertainty. The implementation of sustainable strategies requires constant monitoring of the economic and socio-environmental results generated, in order to anticipate the unwanted outcome and guide the introduction of preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.

The field of tourism planning does not usually operate under a “culture of strategic planning and vigilance” to anticipate latent problems and be in the right position to take decisions in order to adapt themselves appropriately. For this reason, based on the innovative destination sustainability framework developed in report 3.3.1, in this phase we go a step further, linking risk and vulnerability analysis to the implementation of the proposed sustainable plan. The SEAM strategic vigilance framework developed by Savall and Zardet (1995, 2017) constitutes the foundations to address vulnerability management in Med tourism destinations.

Our objective has not been to propose an analysis of vulnerability towards certain external hazards (such as climate change or the deterioration of some natural or cultural resources), but an integral framework. SEAM has helped us fill the gaps in the literature about vulnerability by providing a holistic approach to destination sustainability that not only includes structural characteristics, but also the interactions with the stakeholders’ behaviour and planning. Additionally, it provides theoretical parameters to guide assessments of destination vulnerability. Therefore, we have created an innovative framework for guiding the identification and assessments of factors that create and perpetuate destination vulnerability. In doing so, we have broadened the perimeter of vulnerability compared to previous works in the existing literature.

The greater the vulnerability, the lesser the visible results of the tourist activity. The measurement of the economic results can be indicative of vulnerability, if it is undertaken annually and differentiating the generation of immediate results and of future potential creation. We propose to globally visualise the reduction of vulnerability of the destination through the following immediate results: attraction of desired visitors, reduction of stationality, increase in the generation of added value, and increase of the efficiency of tourist enterprises.

The vulnerability of the destination to generate future results is decreased if time and money are invested in the development of new products and infrastructures, new competences among touristic personnel, new geographic markets, and in the adoption of new technologies.

Additionally, the vulnerability of the destination increases with the existence of dysfunctions; so we propose to introduce the following internal factors of MED destinations in the vulnerability logbook: deficiencies in the physical support, lack of adaptation of cultural and natural resources and tourist facilities, lack of enterprises that accompany the change strategy, image of sensitivity to risk perception, deficiencies on employment imbalance, and lack of governance.

So, we design a vulnerability logbook for Med destinations, that is, a qualimetric system of indicators that will alert decision-makers about the risks of not reaching their sustainability objectives and will help prioritise decisions in the implementation of the plan defined in report 3.3.1.

3.4.1 - Survey of integrated holistic and ecosystemic policies to manage tourism conflicts and externalities


Between late 1950s -1970s and onwards the model of mass tourism was developed in the different coastal areas and islands in the Mediterranean. This model brought several changes in tourism practice and policy. A bit after, the idea of sustainable development arose and expanded to the tourism industry and so the idea of sustainable tourism came along with an increased concern on tourism’s socioeconomic and environmental impacts.  

High concentration of population and economic activities characterize today the Mediterranean coastal zones. In simple words, coastal areas are transitional areas between the land and sea characterized by a very high biodiversity and they include some of the richest and most fragile ecosystems on earth (Yunis, 2001). Coastal zones do not have only a physical dimension, the inclusion of ecosystems, resources and human activity within the zone is also significant. Many coastal Med destinations, beyond economic development, face today several sociocultural and environmental pressures and challenges.  Globalization and technological development have facilitated the movement of tourists worldwide and in the Mediterranean also. 

Along with these changes, several tourism conflicts appeared concerning the different local, regional, national, as well as European and international interests in the MED area involving various stakeholders. Tourism stakeholders are not the only group of interest in coastal zones; many other different stakeholders of land and water resources, environmental groups, local communities, public bodies have conflicting interests in several cases. In these terms, coastal areas are characterized by a high conflict potential and the risk of overexploitation of still intact coastal habitats for tourism (Yunis, 2001). These conflicts can be categorized to Eco - Spatial, Infrastructural, Socio-demographic, Economic and Socio-cultural conflicts. 

Some of the most important/common risks that coastal areas face are highlighted in the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Integrated Coastal Zone Management: A Strategy for Europe. These are: widespread coastal erosion, often exacerbated by inappropriate human infrastructure (including that intended for “coastal defense”) and development too close to the shoreline; habitat destruction, as a result of poorly planned building and land development, or sea exploitation; loss of biodiversity, including decline of coastal and offshore fish stocks as a result of damage to coastal spawning grounds; contamination of soil and water resources, as pollution from marine or on-land sources, including landfills, migrates to the coastline; problems of water quality and quantity as demand exceeds supply or wastewater treatment capacity; unemployment and social instability resulting from the decline of traditional or environmentally-compatible sectors, such as small scale coastal fisheries; competition between users for resources;  destruction of cultural heritage and dilution of the social fabric following uncontrolled development (especially of tourism); loss of property and development options, as the coast erodes; lost opportunities for durable employment, as resources are degraded (European Commission, 2000). 

Many of these risks/problems have to do with a lack of knowledge, inappropriate and uncoordinated laws, a failure to involve stakeholders, and a lack of coordination between the relevant administrative bodies (European Commission, 2000). 

At an international and a European level it was acknowledged that measures had to be taken to tackle the externalities and conflicts of tourism in coastal areas following the  model of sustainable development and an integrated and holistic approach that will bring together stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines with a participatory approach. The EU and international organizations in order to face the growing challenges arising from the model of mass tourism and the pressure on traditional societies and ecosystems have developed specific policies and tools in order to tackle this issue and contribute to the scope of sustainable development, expanding to sustainable tourism. Integrated Coastal Zone Management came as a response to the above challenges acknowledging the dual role of coastal resources as ecological functions and a productive socio-economic asset.  This provided a perspective for reconciling conflicts of uses and short-term/ longer-term priorities to support strategies for sustainable coastal management (Coccossis et al., 2008).

The most important milestone for ICZM in the Mediterranean is the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM Protocol)    which was signed    at the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries on the Integrated Coastal Zone Management on 21 January 2008 in Madrid. This is the seventh Protocol in the framework of the Barcelona Convention and represents a crucial milestone in the history of MAP. It completes the set of Protocols for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Mediterranean Region. The Barcelona Convention was a regional convention adopted in 1976 to prevent and abate pollution from ships, aircraft and land based sources in the Mediterranean Sea. Signers agreed to cooperate and assist in dealing with pollution emergencies, monitoring and scientific research. The convention was adopted on 16 February 1976 and last amended on 10 June 1995. The Barcelona Convention and its protocols, together with the Mediterranean Action Plan, form part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Seas Programme.

The area to which the Protocol applies is the Mediterranean Sea area. The Coastal zone is defined in the Protocol as “the geomorphologic area either side of the seashore in which the interaction between the marine and land parts occurs in the form of complex ecological and resource systems made up of biotic and abiotic components coexisting and interacting with human communities and relevant socioeconomic activities:; and ICZM is defined as “a dynamic process for the sustainable management and use of coastal zones, taking into account at the same time the fragility of coastal ecosystems and landscapes, the diversity of activities and uses, their interactions, the maritime orientation of certain activities and uses and their impact on both the marine and land part”. The ICZM Protocol is a unique legal instrument in the entire international community also. 

Many Action Plans, Euro-Mediterranean projects and initiatives have been developed for an integrated approach to tourism and ICZM the last decades. The table below gathers some important milestones of IZCM and Policies, EU legislation, Action Plans, Study Reports, Initiatives and other tools contributing toward an integrated and holistic approach to Tourism and ICZM which are relevant to the scopes of the Project and can form a useful record for policy makers and other stakeholders. 

3.4.2 - Survey and compareison of planning tools to manage tourism conflicts and externalities


Survey and Comparison of Planning Tools to Manage Tourism Conflicts and Externalities enabled some detailed insights in to Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and Maritime spatial planning (MSP) in European Mediterranean area. ICZM is a Framework and Tool for Planning and Supporting Sustainable Management of Coastal Resources. It includes dynamic, continuous and iterative process designed to promote sustainable management of coastal zones. Planning Tools and supporting methodologies help to carry out a preference tool that helps to guide discussions with stakeholders and to extract and visualize their views and perceptions. It includes an indicator tool that allows to assess the present state of sustainability and its changes after the implementation of a plan/measure, as well, as to assess the quality of the process from initiation to the implementation all take into account land-sea interactions. Additionaly, an Ecosystem Service assessment tool for coastal and marine waters allows to assess state, interactions and changes in Ecosystem Service provision and supports decission making.

We studied good practices in order to recognize existing tools for measuring the progress and outcomes of planning: Regarding a holistic approach towards coastal cultural heritage management among several countries, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and England have given especial attention to coastal cultural heritage to be considered as another resource in the coastlines. These countries recognized the importance of multidisciplinary approach as a foundation for Integrated Coastal Zone Management. An example of initiatives in Italy is the guidelines for management of coastal cultural heritage. These guidelines deal with conceptual and methodological frameworks, and provide operational approaches for decision makers on local level for the coastal resources. In order to make use of the already existing initiatives on ICZM indicators a complete indicator literature review was undertaken (IOC UNESCO - A Handbook for Measuring the Progress and Outcomes of Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management; DEDUCE (EU level); Plan Bleu (Med Sea) - Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD).

As a result, more than 300 indicators were initially identified. Further review was made by looking at the actual formulation (wording) of the single indicators. It was noticed that even if some indicators had a different wording theywere referring to the same objective. After this process some indicators not included in the first phase were re-introduced in the list. Furthermore, some indicators were included by contribution of experts in particular for tourism and cultural heritage indicators.

In the second step the 18 indicators were selected for CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM planning and management and divided in to three types of indicators: governance, socio-economical, biological & ecological indicators.

3.5.1 - Analysis on the regularities and deviations in the state-pressures-solution


In recent period, sustainability has been raised as one of the key challenges of current as well as future tourism development. This is especially the case in the most important world destinations/regions, the most prominent one being the object of this project - the Mediterranean region. In order to tackle this challenge, in this project phase PP3 has conducted the DPSR (Driving forces – Pressures – State) analysis of MED regions and generated the respective Med Regions Cluster Matrix (MRCM). These were generated in a research process entailing several methodological steps. In the first step, the desk research was undertaken and relevant literature examined. As a result, in the first chapter of this report the term “sustainability” is defined and clarified and the challenges of sustainability indicators selection as well as the review of existing ones presented. Furthermore, conceptual models framing the sustainability concept are addressed and the DPSIR framework (Driving forces – Pressures – State _ Impacts – Responses) is elaborated in detail, explaining its content, purpose, usage, advantages as well as critiques. The result of this review/study is the adoption and application of model’s adjusted form – the DPSR framework. In the next step, the methodology of DPSR analysis and MRCM generation are developed and elaborated. After an extensive review of studies on related subjects and methodological texts, factor and cluster analysis were chosen as appropriate tools for these purposes. Additionally, although the sample size is small and at the minimal methodological guidelines, it was decided to use structural equation modelling (SEM) to test the overall DPRS model/framework.

After the methodological issues, the indicators to be used were selected through several iterative project team group discussions - this resulted in generation and database of 28 indicators for the four DPRS components - ten indicators for Driving forces component, six for Pressures, five for State and eight for Responses. Data were extracted from the project database with main sources being The World Economic Forum (WEF), Eurostat, ESPON Programme and TOURMEDASSETS project database. Some indicators were used in their original form while some have been calculated based on the available data sources. Data for all indicators, at the level of NUTS 2 MED regions, were collected for 2015 and standardized prior to further analysis. 

The first analysis applied was exploratory factor analysis (EFA) for variables in all four components of DPRS. The general purpose of factor analysis is to summarize the information contained in a number of original variables into a smaller set of new, composite dimensions of factors with a minimum loss of information. Thus, the 28 initial selected variables from the data set were reduced to 8 factors, 2 in each model component. The factors extracted are labelled as follows: 

• “Basic tourism resources and facilities” and “Tourism development preconditions” in Driving forces; 

• “Tourist demand” and “Tourism spatial pressures” in Pressures

• “Environment quality &sustainability” and “Life quality and safety” in State and 

• “Policy efficacy in creating preconditions for tourism attractiveness” and “Strategic orientation towards T&T industry” in Responses. 

The results obtained confirm the theoretical DPRS model as the factors extracted in all components pertain to their key model elements and their basic content. They also fit logically and theoretically into the relations presumed by the model. Furthermore, and nonetheless important, the factors extracted are fundamentally rooted in the general tourism development trajectory framework as they highlight the key tourism development causes and consequences and their mutual interrelations, proving to the theoretical as well as the practical validity of DPRS model proposed. 

Besides extracting the latent factors, EFA also generated factor scores for all factors extracted. Factor score shows the extent to which a particular object, in this case a region, possesses features of a specific factor. Factor scores were used as input variables in cluster analysis which aims at grouping the items, in our cases regions, in homogenous groups. The cluster analysis was conducted for all four DPRS components and the results were 3 clusters of regions in D, P and S components and 4 clusters in the R component. The statistical difference among clusters was demonstrated using the ANOVA. Clusters of regions were described using factor score values and patterns among them portrayed. The graphs presented show the relationships between the obtained factors of DPSR components and each cluster’s mean which is useful for visually summarizing and describing the differences in means between clusters obtained. Furthermore, the maps of the clusters generated are presented to give an insight on MED regions heterogeneity given the DPSR framework. At the end, research gaps and possible future research tracks have been identified.

Finally, as an additional step, SEM was performed to test the overall DPRS model validity. However, owing to the number of regions in the analysis i.e. sample size which is considered small and limiting in the SEM procedure, the model did not provide a good fit. 

3.5.2 - MED Regions Cluster Matrix


The Cluster Matrix tool provides visualisation of the geographical concentration of the Mediterranean regions according the DPRS (Driving forces – Pressures – State – Responses) model. 

The ShapeTourism project has conducted a DPSR analysis of MED regions at NUTS 2 level. The detailed indicators used and the methods applied in the analysis are accessible in the deliverable entitled “Analysis on the regularities and deviations in the state-pressures-solution”.

Results of this analysis were used to obtain clusters of Mediterranean regions. A cluster analysis was conducted for all DPRS components, from which 3 clusters of regions were identified in the Driving forces, Pressures and State components and 4 clusters in the Responses component. 

A visualization of the clusters generated give to users a valuable insight on Mediterranean regions heterogeneity in the scope of the DPSR framework. Together with the ShapeTourism Observatory, Survey and Scenarios maps, it offers a key tool for analysing regional drives of the tourism sector.

3.6.1 - Assessment report on Med destinations life cycle


The present project activity sought to identify types of destinations that need to be studied in order to assess their level of present and future competitiveness and attractiveness, as well as to define measures that will guarantee the sustainability of these destinations in the future. The methodology used was the conceptual model proposed by Butler in 1980, which is the single most used model in tourism research. However, this methodology was adapted to match the specific new conceptual trends and applications in Mediterranean coastal areas – the ShapeTourism project’s geographical unit of analysis. A literature review identified six of the most recent publications focused on Mediterranean coastal areas (i.e. mainly from 2014 onwards), which include at least 10 consensual domains of observation overlapping with the tourism destination life cycle approach and sustainable tourism development. 

Regarding stakeholders’ perceptions of their destinations’ life cycle stage at the present moment, most survey respondents stated that their destination is in the development stage, with only a small group of stakeholders reporting that their destination is in the decline stage – the least favourable and most worrying stage of the life cycle model. According to the stakeholders, a total of five destination types can be identified, which facilitates establishing specific initiatives geared towards particular types of destinations.