Negotiating constraints to the adoption of agent-based modeling in tourism planning
Recent work exploring the use of agent-based models (ABMs) in a planning support role must be accompanied by an evaluation of the possible constraints that exist to the use of these models. This research presents an evaluation, from the perspective of professional tourism planners, of the potential for ABM of tourism dynamics to serve as a planning support system (PSS). Tourism is a phenomenon that is inherently individually based, with many interacting processes occurring at multiple scales, across space and time. This makes it a natural environment in which to test an ABM-based PSS. We conducted a series of interviews with tourism planners operating in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, a region where tourism plays an important economic role. These interviews consisted of a general-needs overview, coupled with an assessment of a prototype model we developed, called TourSim. The interviews sought to uncover the specific planning tasks to which ABM would be best applied and identify areas of adoption constraint. The results of this research indicate that TourSim served as a scenario development tool, with a focus on data analysis and communication. Conversely, TourSim was reported to lack transparency, which affected the confidence that planners had in its results. This evaluation clarifies the path forward for developers looking to introduce ABM to planning practice.
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