Assessing the tourism-traffic paradox in mountain destinations: A stated preference survey on the Dolomites passes (Italy)
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In ecologically sensitive but tourism-intensive areas, transport policymakers face the paradox of understanding the need to minimize transport-related impacts, yet being practically unable to change the status quo. This occurs because the acknowledged negative impact of traffic on the tourism economy is perceived as less problematic than the potential effects of traffic management. This paper assesses this paradox by quantifying the effects of traffic management measures on tourist demand in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site (Italy) and proposing measures that minimize negative side-effects. The study is based on a stated preference survey to elicit visitor sensitivities to a series of management and experiential conditions, and subsequent simulations for estimating the outcomes of future traffic management. Results show that the above-mentioned paradox might be dealt with if a well-balanced mix of “carrot” and “stick” measures is introduced according to territorial needs. In the case of the Dolomites, this means that alternative transportation should be highly performing, i.e. cheap, frequent, integrated and running on an extended daily schedule, whereas restrictions on private mobility should be clear and unavoidable. Results of this study are part of a broader process of re-designing tourism and transportation systems as integrated domains.