Why Demography Forecasts Fail in Tourism Areas: a Spatial Demographic Mapping of a Small Alpine Village
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SubjectTourism innovation; small scale accommodation; alpine destinations; business succession; Demographic change; settlement planning; Housing
Globally destinations are exposed to so called mega-drivers: climate change, urbanization, demographic change or sharing economies. While research in the field of climate change impact is globally considered a major issue, demographic change seems to be of less importance. Looking at the dynamics of aging and the movement of the younger population from rural areas into the cities in the EU the question comes up, if demographic change might be the driver with much stronger impact to local communities in the near future. Thereby demographic change does not only shift the age structure of the local population in tourism villages but also that of secondary residents and guests. This paper is based on a case from a small traditional tourism village in the Bavarian Alps. The population change forecast provided by the regional statistical office shows a stable situation with a shift in the age structure towards the older groups. This would imply that the only necessary measure is to attract young families for settlement. However, a new spatial analysis method which visualizes the age structure in each building of the village, the vacancy risk, real vacancies, tourism related objects and second homes shows a different result: subareas with a high share of abandoned houses or such with a high risk for vacancy within the next few years are found. Furthermore, second home residences with a very low occupancy rate or abandoned tourism businesses are identified. Based on these results adaptation strategies were developed, using a participatory process and focussing on a new settlement policy and the innovation of the accommodation sector and its business models.
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