51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
In the last decades the increasing facility in moving and the simultaneous fall of the transportation costs have strongly increased the tourist flows. As a consequence, different destinations, especially those which are rich of natural resources, unable or unready to sustain huge tourism flows, present serious problems of sustainability and Tourism Carrying Capacity (TCC). At the present, it is universally recognized that every tourist destination should plan effective and pro-reactive protection policies of its cultural, environmental and social resources. In order to facilitate policies definition it may be useful to measure the Tourist Carrying Capacity, but the literature has highlighted that this is not an easy task for different reasons: among the others, the complexity and the dynamicity of the concept, the absence of a universally accepted definition and the impossibility of assigning an objective scientific value and to apply a rigorous analysis. Thereby, more recently an alternative, or even complementary, interpretation of TCC has developed; it is called LAC, Limit of Acceptable Changes where the focus shifts from: "How much use an area can tolerate?" to "How much change is acceptable?", aiming at evaluating the costs and benefits from alternative management tourism actions. The aim of the paper is to present an innovative framework, based on the LAC approach - MABSiT, Mobile Agent Behavior Simulation in Tourism - developed by the authors, which is composed by five modules: elaboration data, DBMS, ad-hoc maps, agents and ontology. Its modular structure allows to easily study the interactions among the components in order to observe the behavior of the single agents. In an aggregate form, it is possible to define group dynamics, where one possible effect is the influence on the variation of agents' satisfaction perception in comparison to the surroundings environment. The paper will be structured as follows: an introduction will be followed by a literature review; than the methodology and the framework will be presented and applied to a case study: Vieste, a known maritime destination of South of Italy, which is characterized by high problems of seasonality in the summer. Finally, some conclusions and policy recommendations will be drawn.