Case Study

Finding the Optimum Tourism Mix


Part of growing tourism sustainably is ensuring the right mix of different types of tourists – those who will bring the greatest value to your destination and have the least negative impacts.

For instance

  • Tourists staying in an all-inclusive hotel typically have a lower daily spend that those staying in other types of accommodation
  • Cruise tourists have a lower daily spend than land-based tourists
  • Backpackers (or independent travellers) may have a lower overall spend than ‘package’ tourists, but proportionally contribute more to the local economy


Project aims

We aimed to analyse the benefits and costs of key market segments and provide key findings in relation to the relative ‘value’ of each, together with recommendations on the optimal market mix to achieve the best balance of impacts.

The project took place in Tenerife, where our aim was to understand the ‘true’ value of different tourist markets, looking at a range of factors, including: economic; environmental; social and cultural.

‘Value’ is defined as:

  • Tourism that generates positive economic returns spread across different sectors and regions.
  • Where its activities contribute to the conservation of the destination’s natural, historical and cultural assets.
  • Where its activities have minimal negative impact.

Tenerife provided a perfect context for the research, as it attracts a diverse range of tourists looking to enjoy very different holiday experiences. It provided opportunities to measure and compare the different impacts of different segments.


Tenerife tourism data was analysed to identify key segments in relation to age, nationality, group structure (e.g. families, singles) and number of visits. These segments were then further analysed according to type and nature of activities, associated spend, satisfaction levels etc.

This gave us a reasonable picture of where people stay and go out, what they do, how much they spend and on what. From this, we could start to investigate some of the following:

  • How much their visits support small businesses and employment (from where they stay and go)
  • What impact they have on heritage and conservation sites (spend and footfall)
  • Their contribution to infrastructure and services (through taxes) and impact on them (through use)
  • Their influence on the island’s social and cultural fabric (stimulating culture and overcrowding it)

The second phase involves gathering data from the private sector and broader government agencies and tourists themselves.


We believe that this research could have far-reaching impacts and could form the basis for a new approach to sustainable destination management.

It could align markets with destination priorities and strategies, maximising value and laying the groundwork for sustainable growth.

Find out more about sustainable destination management.



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