Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Decision support system for integrated tourism

The Decision Support System (DSS) has assisted in the identification of strategies and policies for the successful development of integrated tourism which makes optimal and sustainable use of the resource, activity, product and community structures in Europe�s lagging rural regions.

The development stage consisted of describing possible forces that can influence the strategies and expectations of tourism actors in the future, including: hypothetical events relating to the current socio-economic environment, the context of these events and hypothetical decision-making logic that governs the interactions amongst the actors and the local resources. The operationalisation stage consisted of providing decision-support to the actors involved by simulating decision-making logic in the face of different hypothetical events, then by analysing the scenarios with experts and local stakeholders in order to obtain their suggestions and policy recommendations for the development of integrated tourism

By varying the hypothetical event, the actors� decision-making logic, and the value of some parameters, fifteen scenarios were built: two base scenarios and thirteen alternative scenarios. The base scenarios described the variation in the perceptions, the planned actions, and the policy expectations of the stakeholders in the face of the general event and in the face of a region-specific event. The alternative scenarios described the possible future changes amongst the policy expectations of the stakeholders that were generated by the application of hypothetical decision-making logic. Analysis of the stakeholders� expectations in the face of a given event provides the opportunity to identify possible future policy networks that might be generated within each study area. Analysis of the perceptions, the resources, and the functions of the members of these networks provides the opportunity to estimate their capacity to operationalise their expectations, and to identify possible future changes within current partnerships and possible future alliances and conflicts amongst the actors.

The general event was formulated as a strong increase in the number of tourists that come to the study area for its natural and cultural resources whilst the regional event varied with each study area. About 90% of the surveyed actors said that an increase in the number of tourists that come to the study area for its natural and cultural resources would be a very important or quite an important future change. For most of the other actors, this event would be not a particularly important change. However, the proportion varied with the role of the actor and with each study area. In the face of the general event, about 80% of the surveyed actors said they would like to see future tourism policy supporting the event (supporters), while most of the other actors wanted to see the number of tourists just maintained (moderators). But this proportion also varied with the role of the actor, and with each study area. Due to the very weak structure of the supporters� network, the general event might enable and reinforce networking among tourism actors; the embeddedness of local skills and raw materials; and the empowerment of local actors in connection with tourism activities. There is no consensus among the supporters on how to develop tourism and variations in their preferences might be both the basis for alliances amongst actors, and a cause of conflict whenever limited funds constrain policy development. General alternatives scenarios were based on a negotiation model and a regulation model.

The computer-based DSS was designed for use in rural regions to predict the opportunities and constraints inherent in integrated tourism development, combining a series of policy options on general and region-specific events into a single integrated package. It is intended to provide policy makers with information on integrated tourism management and development in a readily accessible form and to facilitate the integration of future research findings. The value of the DSS can be further explored in by using it as a decision-support tool in integrated tourism development, helping to create a language that would allow actor-groups to build models without intermediaries.

However, to arrive at accurate decisions and policies, the DSS needs to match the understood actionable information in the shape of other strata of inputs. Many of the methods used are dependent on structured numerical data and do not directly take into account textual unstructured data; hence the decision analysis provided by these systems requires time demanding coding procedures. Attempts to build a complete and comprehensive decision analysis system will eventually require the incorporation of text-based approaches and more qualitative methodologies to offer broader decision-analysis solutions.

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Reported by

Centre National du Machinisme Agricole, du Génie Rural, des Eaux et Forêts
24 Avenue des Landais, BP 50085
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