Abstract for: Beyond the Tourism Area Life Cycle: a model for competing tourist destinations

We propose a spatio-dynamic model of tourism development for competing destinations, that are those considered as similar when taking the decision of travelling, either by proximity, type of experience they offer or type of tourists they receive. The model includes simultaneously time and space, giving to the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) theory (Butler, 1980) a spatial component that allows to study the diffusion of tourists through destinations. Based on a similar structure for each destination, growth is constrained by destination tourist carrying capacity. This carrying capacity is understood as the maximum area attractiveness, based on the size of infraestructure that does not lead to crowding and environmental effects that affect the perception of tourists about the attractiveness of the destination. The connection between destinations is made at the level of word of mouth, that depends not only on the attractiveness of the destination but also on the attractiveness of destinations that are perceived by tourists as competitors. The key points are the definition of competition among destinations and if a destination can and should try to differentiate itself from the rest of destinations for not being perceived as a competitor, what could depend on the relative size of its carrying capacity.