Research projects (co)funded by the Slovenian Research and Innovatian Agency and Ministry of Economic Development and Technology.


Member of University of Ljubljana

School of Economics and Business




Guidelines for destination management based on carryng capacity and tourism flows models


1.4.2018 – 30.9.2019


Ljubica Knežević Cvelbar

Research activity

Social sciences/Economics

Research Organisation


Proposed research project is answering to the need for ensuring sustainable development in tourism. Tourism has significant impact to problems of sustainability. Environmental program of United Nations recognizes that uncontrolled conventional development presents potential hazards for many natural areas around the world. Tourism causes enormous pressure on nature, affects soil erosion, increases pollution, emissions of dangerous substances into the sea, the loss of a natural habitat, and increases the risk of forest fire. This is supported by growing number of examples. Passenger ships in the Caribbean generate more than 70,000 tons of waste annually. The development of tourist infrastructure in Yosemite National Park in the US has caused pollution of the environment that loss of protected species has occurred, and extreme smog enabled to see the Yosemite Valley from the plane. European destinations, such as Barcelona and Venice, have been facing protests from local population against further tourism development. The cruise ship almost damaged the walls of the old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Closer to home, deputy manager of local tourism organisation in Bled appealed to locals to postpone their daily trips due overcrowdings. So, there is a challenge to find effective ways for reducing environmental damage caused by tourism activity, both at global and local level. The purpose of this project is to understand and strengthen the carrying capacity of tourist destinations in Slovenia with the aim of developing and testing a model for measuring carry capacity and visitor management and proposing guidelines for tourism destinations management.

The project will combine advanced models of destination management based on tourist flows with models of carrying capacity of tourist destinations. This is new approach. Several models of carrying capacity have been developed in the last six decades. Unfortunately, they offered a few practical solutions. Basically, such models are diagnostic. On contrary visitor flows are practical, since they identify repeatable movement of tourists in the geographical area. The basis of the flow is the monitoring of the behavior and movement of tourists, as well as the understanding of destinations through flows and not geographically rigorously defined areas. In this way, we can better understand behavior and habits of tourists. This allows us to predict, which tourist destinations will be visited by tourists in the sequence. In addition, the 'bottlenecks' of the visit can be determined on the basis of flows. These crisis points can then be assessed by directing visitors to less-visited locations.

The project has a significant contribution in several areas. For tourist destinations, we will provide guidelines for sustainable management and in this way influence the reduction of environmental and social damage to the tourist economy in Slovenia and beyond its borders. Project is also aligned with goals of Slovenian Tourism development strategy 2017-2021. Strategy vision is to create 5-star experiences of a green, active and healthy boutique tourism products for all tourists visiting Slovenia. With customised data collection and data analysis based on the big data we will be able to understand customers’ needs better and to facilitate the process of developing 5 star experiences. The Slovenian tourism will thus become more competitive, and will consolidate its position as a green destination. The contribution of the project to the development of science is also significant. The project is built on the latest findings in the field of destination management, using advanced methodology and integration of the concept of visitors flows with carrying capacity. The project team, which has been active in the field for several years, will disseminate project results through publications in reputable international journals.


The phases of the project and their realization

The implementation plan of the project is based on six content sets or work packages.

  1. In the first work package, we will perform literature review of the existing carrying capacity models and comparative analysis of foreign practices. This will enable understanding and classification of the concept of carrying capacity and understanding of its use, challenges and solutions in comparable destinations abroad.
  2. In the second work package, we will identify visitors flows in order to better understand visitation patterns and interconnection of Slovenian destinations based on the advanced data available on the tourist web 2.0. We will focus on 2.0 user generated content, particularly to user entrees on travel 2.0 sites, which typically include geolocation data and time of visit, as well as an anonymous site user identifier. Such an approach is cost-effective and provides access to longitudinal data. The privacy requirements for website users (tourists) are fully met, as individuals voluntarily share data in public space. We nevertheless use the anonymized identifiers generated by sites that cannot be linked to an actual individual identity since all analysis will aggregate form, as our approach is centered on the behavior of large groups and not on the behavior of individuals.
  3. In the third work package, we will develop a conceptual model of the carrying capacity for tourist destinations, which will include a quantitative assessment of the carrying capacities in: environmental, social, economic and political pillar, and the analysis of tourist flows.
  4. In the fourth work package we will test the model. By setting indicators we will identify crisis zones or destinations that need management guidelines. Based on the already achieved identification of tourist flows at the level of Slovenia and surrounding destinations, we will examine the connection of crisis zones with other destinations from the perspective of tourists. In order to better understand the internal dynamics of the behavior of tourists in the crisis zones, we will identify visitors flows again, but this time at the level of individual crisis zones.
  5. The fifth work package is based on qualitative analysis and participation of stakeholders in selected zones. With tourism stakeholders we will first define tourist flows through qualitative analysis. We will compare these with flow based on user-generated content. Together with the stakeholders, we will use the variable geometry to define strategic and niche tourist flows for each zone or destination, and identify bottlenecks (crisis points). With the help of the product matrix methodology, we will identify the necessary measures (infrastructural, managerial and marketing) by individual zones or destinations.
  6. In the last, sixth package, we will propose strategic guidelines for improving the existing guidelines for the sustainable development of tourism in Slovenia (for example, the project can upgrade the guidelines of the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism).

Citations for bibliographic records

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