The optimal level of tourism crowding

What is the optimal level of tourism crowding for experience quality and destination income?

Crowding as a result of high levels of tourist visitation is a widely discussed problem in the Netherlands. For destination managers there exists a conflict between the wish for the highest possible income from tourism and minimising the negative effects of tourism crowding.

If tourism crowding levels keep rising, friction between tourists and locals will increase, in addition to negative experience of physical space. Over the long term, such a situation irreparably harms reputation and ultimately income.

In this project, we aim to understand the behavioural and economic impacts of crowding on both the tourist and the destination. Multiple solutions for tourism crowding have been discussed, but no research has yet measured the direct influence of crowding on tourist experience and spending. Is it possible to find the optimal tourism crowding level that keeps the experience quality high and allows for the maximum possible income?

The answer is yes. Research has demonstrated that emotional responses to different levels of crowding and closeness clearly show that optimal levels of crowding and distance exist. To avoid crowds, people are willing to pay entrance fees to a destination and to adjust travel and activity plans when given information about expected crowds before or during their trip. The results provide clues and support for destination managers to develop effective policies to reduce crowding. Further in-depth information about the research can be found on the website of CELTH.

2019 – present

Data & Development Lab CELTH / NBTC / CBS