Optimizing or maximizing? A challenge to sustainable tourism.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Virtually all destinations seek to increase tourist numbers, pursuing economic maximization strategies. Considerably less attention is paid to optimizing existing tourist systems to create more profitable, stable, resilient and potentially more sustainable entities. While aspects of tourist expenditure, average length of stay and seasonality as three key destination management variables have received considerable attention in the literature, focus has usually been on the identification of “profitable” tourism markets by considering observed patterns of spending, length of stay and vacation timing. Building on such earlier studies, this paper focuses on flexibilities in these parameters: could tourists have spent more, stayed longer or visited during a different season? Perceptions of destination expensiveness as a potential deterrent to visitation were also addressed. Based on a sample (n = 1914) of domestic and international tourists in the Swedish cities of Kalmar and Stockholm, data were collected in face-to-face interviews using questionnaires. Results indicate considerable potential to optimize the Swedish tourism system with regard to all variables studied, while also providing new insights for destination management in the context of economic resilience. Results also indicate the need for researchers everywhere to have detailed market knowledge if they are to persuade the industry to change its sustainability behavior.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic Geography


  • average length of stay, destination management, expenditure, seasonality, sustainability, vulnerability
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

First published online: 29 Oct 2015