An agent-based approach to providing tourism planning support
Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a computer simulation approach that can be used to represent real-world systems and create planning scenarios to examine possible future outcomes of present-day decisions. This approach can be applied in tourism planning, where destinations are exposed to a variety of externalities, and must develop strategies to adapt to changing operational conditions. We describe the development of TourSim, an ABM of tourism dynamics set in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. We present an overview of the data sources and techniques used to inform agent behavior and the destination landscape, as well as consider aspects of system representation and validation and how these may affect the use of TourSim. TourSim is used to generate three scenarios of tourism dynamics; a base-case scenario, one that simulates the effect of a decrease in visitation from American markets as a result of economic crisis, and the use of advertising as a response to this lower level of visitation. These scenarios are used to evaluate ABM in comparison with other computer-based methods of modeling tourism, namely geographic information systems and system dynamics models.
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