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

Read more about what tourism researchers and practitioners say in this article from Sustainability Leaders.


Project Aims

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.

We will begin the project in Tenerife where our aim is to understand the ‘true’ value of different tourist markets, to broaden research parameters beyond discretionary spend and look 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, and where its activities contribute to the conservation of the destination’s natural, historical and cultural assets and have minimal negative impact.

We will evaluate the costs and benefits of different tourism market segments, enabling an understanding of the relative values of each, and the optimal market mix required to ensure that tourism planning and development achieves the outcomes desired by the destination authority.

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

Progress to date

Tenerife tourism data has been 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 gives us a reasonable picture of where people stay and go out, what they do, how much they spend and on what. From this, we can 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)

To get a full picture we need more information so the second phase will involve gathering data from the private sector and broader government agencies and tourists themselves. This information will be collected and analysed with the aim of producing the final report in the summer of 2019.


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

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


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