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Bosselman, Fred P., Craig A. Peterson, and Claire McCarthy. Managing Tourism Growth: Issues and Applications. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999 (304 pp.). This book was written by three lawyers (as the book jacket notes) – not recreation scholars, park managers, or anyone in the tourism business. After the first chapter, it’s clear why: the approach is technical and legal. A museum director looking for methods to manage visitor flow will find little here that’s helpful. (Although some advice could be extended to an individual museum; see, for example, the discussion of "carrying capacity.") Here, however, the authors examine how entire communities – neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, countries – approach tourism. They acknowledge that tourism can provide benefits, mostly economic, to host communities, but they’re also clear from the start (and they reinforce this message repeatedly) that tourism can have a downside (in fact, many downsides) if it’s not managed according to local customs, capacities, and values. They include many examples where the revenue generated by tourism does not counterbalance its negative impacts – threats to the natural and cultural environment, being the most obvious. In effect, the authors argue that tourism itself is not an innately rapacious industry, but left unchecked, the free hand of the market will likely diminish the very assets that drew residents, and then tourists, in the first place. To that end, their approaches for managing tourism growth are intended to: 1) minimize negative impacts on destinations, 2) maximize benefits to tourists, 3) allocate benefits and burdens appropriately, and 4) remain adaptable to future trends. Their formula for achieving these ends focuses on three elements: quality, quantity, and location (these often overlap). Within each element, they provide different tactics for realizing the goal, and this is where the legalese creeps in: zoning, districting, etc. (This discussion is appropriate for any community experiencing growth problems, not just growth created by tourism.) There are valuable lessons for heritage managers who sit on the chamber of commerce or tourism authority; the book provides dozens of case studies of communities that have successfully (and sometimes not) responded to tourism’s challenges. About half of the 40 or so cases are in North America. One thing that emerges in every discussion is that no approach will work if the community (in the broadest sense) is not involved in the planning; and partnerships that include the private sector, the public, and government are essential. Reading this book, one marvels at the forward-thinking approaches that many towns, some quite small, have developed to preserve their historic character and natural environment, at the same time they are increasing tourism revenue. Dozens of places – towns, regions, countries – realize that a long-term, sustainable approach is the best way to guarantee that their tourism products (whether natural, historical, social) will be preserved and that the visitor experience will continue to be a quality one – thus, ensuring repeat customers. Towns just getting into tourism should consider the cautionary tales in this book – not to dissuade them from building upon tourism, but to suggest tools to manage it. One disappointment is that the book does not discuss ecotourism or heritage tourism, even though most of the case studies mention the goal of preserving the community’s heritage and environment. Still, this is a balanced look at the risks and rewards of tourism, with a focus on helping communities minimize the negative impacts. Any community that includes tourism in its economic development plan should consult this book.


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