Sustainable management of tourism hotspots

By Matt Burdett, 27 January 2018

On this page, we look at possible management options to increase site resilience to cope with problems caused by tourism.

Management strategies to increase the sustainability of tourism

There are several possible management strategies to limit the problems from tourism. These can involve managing the supply of tourist resources, and managing the demand from tourists themselves:

  • Managing the supply involves increasing the resources for tourists so the carrying capacity is increased.
  • Managing the demand involves keeping visitor numbers low so that carrying capacity is not reached.

Managing the supply

The supply of tourism refers to the supply of things that tourists need, including both primary and secondary tourist facilities. Management can include:

  • Increase the number of hotels, roads, toilets and so on to meet the needs of the tourist
  • Increase the number of attractions
  • Space the attractions out more, so that tourists are also spread out and carrying capacity is not reached so quickly
  • Improve the throughput of visitors. This means making visitors move more quickly through the area so more visitors can get through. Inside the Taj Mahal, visitors are not allowed to stop walking and photographs are banned – so that there is a greater ‘throughput’ of tourists.

Managing the demand

Managing the demand for tourism means either encouraging people to go elsewhere and thereby reduce demand for the initial attraction, discouraging them from coming altogether, or limiting the number of visitors allowed.

  • Impose limits: Putting a limit on the number of people who can enter. For example, allow up to 200 people at a time, or a maximum of 1500 people per day.
  • Permit systems: By insisting that people obtain a permit, it is likely to put some people off bothering and therefore reduce the demand. For example, Hong Kong keeps its numbers of mountain bikers relatively low by enforcing a permit system. Those who ride without a permit inside the country parks are liable to a US$70 fine.
  • Zoning: This is a policy of allowing visitors into a designated area, but restricting them from entering other parts of the tourist area. It can also separate activities that come into conflict e.g. sailing and water skiing.
  • Increase prices: When prices go up, fewer people are prepared to pay for it and the demand goes down. This can be done through ticket prices, or through taxation – such as in many popular Italian towns where a city tax is imposed on overnight visitors to prevent too many tourists coming
  • Information sharing: Increasingly, tourist hotspots are informing visitors that they are reaching saturation levels. For example, it’s common to see signs that state how long a queue will take for entry to a popular museum. In Italy, the Cinque Terre (a popular set of seaside villages) have produced an app so that visitors can see which towns are busy and which are quieter, in the hope that tourists will avoid the busy places.


No specific sources were used in writing this page.

Sustainable management of tourism hotspots: Learning activities


  1. Distinguish between the supply and demand elements of managing tourism. [2]
  2. Outline three ways to change the supply of tourism, leading towards greater sustainability. [6]
  3. Outline four ways to improve the sustainability of tourism through changing the demand for tourism. [8]

Other tasks

Identify an area near to where you live that experiences high levels of visitors. (This doesn’t have to be tourism – it could be the local town centre being used by locals.) Using Google Maps and Streetview, investigate whether there is any indication that the area has been modified to cope with the number of visitors:

  • Are there any ‘no entry’ areas (this can include preventing specific activities, e.g. driving or skateboarding)
  • Are permits required to enter any areas, or to conduct any activities?
  • Is there any evidence that information is given to people to help reduce the problems of reaching carrying capacity? For example, ‘road closed this weekend for festival’ signs would help reduce traffic as people would drive elsewhere to avoid the road closure.

Going further

Look through the following examples of limiting supply and demand in Hong Kong.