Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Mediterranean Tourism Life Cycle Model

The life cycle of the tourism product


The life cycle of the tourism product

As in other economic sectors, tourism follows a "product life cycle", with a curve similar to that of the above graph. In this process several stages can be identified:

STAGE 1:  DISCOVERY During the early "discovery stage" of the cycle a small number of unobtrusive visitors arrive seeking "unspoiled" destinations. These early "explorer" tourists generally speak the language and identify with the local culture. The social impact in this stage is generally small and resident attitudes are fairly positive towards tourism.

STAGE 2: LAUNCH During this stage the number of incoming tourists increases. The host community responds to the increasing numbers of tourist by providing facilities. Businesses remain family based and the visitor-resident relationship is still harmonious. Later in this stage, visitor numbers increase and the community becomes a tourist resort. Outside interests become involved developing businesses and tourist facilities. This is typically the stage during which TNC (Trans-National Corporations) foreign investment enters the cycle. Migrant workers, attracted by the prospect of tourist-related jobs, may enter the community and reduce resident contact with visitors. The tourist-relationship is converted into one of business as the novelty of new visitor arrivals declines. The more culturally sensitive "explorers" move on to new "unspoiled" areas and are replaced by the mass market.

STAGE 3: STAGNATION The stage in which saturation is reached. The quality of tourist services falls, demand levels off, and the environmental degradation of the tourist destination begins to be obvious and worrying. The tourist destination at this stage is said to have reached 'maturity'. Mature tourist destinations

STAGE 4: DECLINE which represents the current state of mature tourist destinations on the Costa Brava in Spain. Falling profits lead to foreign-owned businesses withdrawing and the community is left to "pick up the pieces". more

Butler Model of tourist resort development

Tourism and the Butler Model in Sitges and Calafell