Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world. It is a very dynamic industry and changing constantly. Tourist attractions are often fragile and therefore require careful management.
Therefore, a good number of writers have initiated conversations concerning the carrying capacity and sustainability of attractions over the years. One of the most prominent ones is Professor Richard W. Butler, a geographer and professor of tourism. He came up with a model called Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC) which is based on Product Life Cycle concept. The model can be used to study tourist attractions to see how they change over time.
Stages in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Butler’s model for the life cycle of a tourist destination has a number of stages as follows:
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Exploration in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Exploration is the first stage of the model. It is a stage where a very limited number of visitors visit the area. Visitors usually make their individual travel arrangements, and the pattern of visitation is irregular. The area may have attracted the visitors, usually the non-local ones due to its cultures and scenic beauty.
In this stage, local people are not involved in money making from tourist-related activities, and therefore, enjoy a very little or no economic benefits from their interactions with the tourists. Some parts of Canadian Arctic and Latin America can be used as examples of the exploration stage. Likewise, some sites in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Saudi Arabia can also be considered in this regard.
Involvement in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Involvement is the stage where the number of people visiting the area is increasing. Therefore, residents now see economic benefits in providing some facilities such as food, accommodation, guides, and transport to the tourists.
As the stage progresses, some marketing efforts to take the attraction out there are in place and a recognised tourist season is somehow realised. This stage puts pressure on local and national authorities to contribute to the development of the area by providing and improving transport infrastructure and other facilities for visitors. Examples of this stage include less developed islands and less accessible areas in many parts of the world.
Development in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Development is a stage where the area becomes widely recognised as a tourist attraction, partly because of heavy advertising and promotional efforts. As the attraction is becoming known and popular, investors and tourist companies see opportunities for financial gains.
Consequently, more cultural attractions and facilities such as big hotels, restaurants, bars, arenas, and convention centres are developed to supplement the original attraction. In this stage, particularly during the holiday season, tourists may start outnumbering the local people.
Local people are most likely to lose control of the development of the area. Examples of this stage includes some developed islands and areas in Mexico, Turkey, India, Philippines, Maldives, Indonesia, north and west African coasts, and many other places.
Consolidation in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Consolidation is the stage where the numbers of visitors are higher than the permanent residents. The local economy is dominated by tourism at this stage. Tourism businesses will push for further expansion of the attraction.
However, some local people, particularly those who are not involved in tourism development, will be unhappy and oppose tourism activities due to their impact on socio-cultural environment. Examples of this stage can be found in some areas in Barcelona (Spain), Goa (India), Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore), St. Kitts and Nevis island (the Caribbean) and many others.
Stagnation in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Stagnation as the name suggests, is the stage where many aspects of an attraction have reached maximum capacity and cannot grow any further. The local environment is polluted, and many species can no longer survive.
In this stage, the attractions depend heavily on repeat visitation and substantial marketing efforts are required to keep the business going. Examples include some attractions in Singapore which had a relatively stagnant performance last several years.
Decline in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
After the stagnation stage, the area may face different possibilities. One of the possibilities is decline where the area is no longer able to compete with newer attractions. This decline stage is characterised by weekend and day trips as the attraction has lost its appeal.
As tourist facilities disappear at this stage, the involvement of permanent residents in tourism may increase due to the availability of cheaper facilities in declining market conditions. However, the area may completely lose its tourist function eventually.
Examples of decline include but of course not limited to Guaíra Falls (Paraguay, Brazil), Sutro Baths (San Francisco), Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (China), Chacaltaya Glacier (Bolivia), and Malta’s Royal Opera House of Valletta (Johanson, 2022).
Rejuvenation in Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
Another possibility is rejuvenation of the area. However, for rejuvenation to happen, the attraction requires a complete change (Butler, 1980). This change can happen in two main ways as suggested by Butler.
Firstly, new man-made attractions can be introduced. Secondly, the attraction can take advantage of the previously untapped natural resources. Support for local and national governments may be necessary at this stage of the cycle. Santiago (Chile) is a good example of rejuvenation which has experienced a major transformation in the last few years.
Summary of Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC)
In conclusion, Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model (TALC) is a useful tool to understand the stages that a tourist attraction goes through in its life. It helps tourism planners and developers examine how tourist resorts can change over time in response to the changing demands of the tourist industry.
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Last update: 16 January 2023
Butler, R. W. (1980) The concept of a tourist area cycle of evolution: implications for management of resources, The Canadian Geographer, 24, pp. 5-12
Johanson, M. (2015) The best tourist attractions that no longer exist, available at: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/attractions-no-longer-exist/index.html (accessed 02 July 2019)
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Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.