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Managing tourism flow

When destinations consider how to manage the flow of visitors and combat over-tourism in the future they can learn lessons from theme parks, a speaker in the international tourism recovery webinar series said last week.

Ged Brown, of Low Season Traveller, says that popular cities and sites need to know how many people they can take at any given time and how they can manage that. ‘Theme parks are incredibly good at what they do. They know the maximum number that they can take and when they reach that number they stop (admittance). They know how to move people around, they show waiting times – so visitors know if there is a three-hour queue somewhere. It is all about dispersal. ‘It is almost like (am I going to say this?) we need to treat our destinations like a theme park. What is the capacity available on any given day and how do we manage that?’

Carolyn Childs, of MyTravel Research (who moderated the Q&A during Brown’s session) says a number of destinations utilise apps that can inform tourists on which areas are particularly busy at any one time – and then give options for less crowded spots. Picking up on the theme park thread, she says people should not be afraid to look at those attractions for lessons. ‘Theme parks are just a contained space and when it comes to place management they certainly provide lessons about ownership and sense of place and about how experiences can best work.’ She says when it comes to over-tourism a lot of destinations may know what the ideal capacity and throughput is. ‘But what is missing is the enforcement – in tourism we are often afraid of offending people.’ The tourism recovery webinars are being run by the World Tourism Association of Culture and Heritage WTACH in association with Low Season Traveller and MyTravel Research.

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