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Systems modeling tools such as STELLA Research 7 for Windows are used in economics and ecosystem management, but their application to the tourism system at the local destination level has been little explored. This article uses STELLA Research 7 for Windows to examine the potential of dynamic systems modeling as a community destination planning tool. The conceptual and theoretical basis of systems modeling is explained, followed by an application of STELLA modeling in an undergraduate tourism impacts class. A basic model of Hardin's (1968) Tragedy of the Commons was developed as an example to illustrate how the systems-based software helps to address interrelationships between various components. This was then followed by a collaborative class project to develop aspects of a Tourism Management System (TMS) model with the help of STELLA. Student responses to a questionnaire administered subsequent to project completion indicates that systems-based modeling exhibits strong potential to be applied as a visual and process-based tool to facilitate (a) joint learning of the nature of tourism impacts at the destination level and (b) collaborative decision making on issues related to destination planning and management. Other benefits and limitations of this participatory modeling approach are provided in the article.
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Keywords: Collaborative learning; Destination planning and management; STELLA modeling; Systems dynamics; Tourism system simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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