When walking is no longer possible

Investigating crowding and coping practices in urban tourism using commented walks

Authored by: Monika Popp

The Routledge International Handbook of Walking

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138195349
eBook ISBN: 9781315638461
Adobe ISBN:


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Urban tourism has been booming since the 1980s (UNWTO 2012) and this growth is continuing in many cities around the world. While high tourist arrivals are welcomed by many cities, mainly for economic reasons, others, which have seen an enormous increase in tourist numbers, not least due to their ‘place luck’ (Fainstein and Judd 1999: 11), are often confronted with massive problems. Their carrying capacity is exceeded in many ways. This is not only true for the physical, ecological, economic and social carrying capacity, but also for the so-called perceptual carrying capacity, which relates to the ‘number of people a place can welcome before the quality of the tourist experience begins to be adversely affected’ (Swarbrooke 1999: 30). Overcrowding is an important aspect of this perceptual carrying capacity and has been recognized as a major problem in many cities (Hall and Page 2014). In some cities, the use density has become so high that even walking – the most-used traffic mode between destinations in dense city centres (Lew and McKercher 2006, cited in Kádár 2015) – has become difficult, causing stress and diminishing the overall quality of experience. Cities, then, not only risk diminishing tourist satisfaction, but might also attract lower numbers of tourists in the future. Furthermore, they also risk harming the quality of life for the locals at the same time.

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