Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Tourism

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Carrying capacity, tourism

Carrying capacity is a concept that has been widely applied in tourism and recreation studies since the 1960s, but its emergence can be traced to the 1930s. Although it can be viewed as an important concept in the eventual emergence of sustainablity discourse, it has become less popular in recent years as sustainability and associated concepts have come to dominate discussions on the management of tourism and its impacts.

Measurements of carrying capacity were first used as a way of deciding optimum stocking rates in agriculture. In addition, its measurements have been utilized in fields such as ecology, biology, and population studies. In livestock research, carrying capacity was defined as the maximum number of grazing animals that could make use of a defined area, and this natural-resource based tradition (Saarinen 2006) has informed many tourism studies. Thus, attempts were made to arrive at a single, ideal number of tourists who can make use of a tourism resource at any given point ...

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