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Complexity in tourism policies : a cognitive mapping approach

Farsari, I. and Butler, R. W. and Szivas, E. (2011) Complexity in tourism policies : a cognitive mapping approach. Annals of Tourism Research, 38 (3). pp. 1110-1134. ISSN 0160-7383

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The paper discusses a study of policies for sustainable tourism developed at all four policy making levels in Greece using a complex systems approach. Complexity was examined between policy issues i.e. the elements constituting policy considerations. The mental models of policy makers were elicited, built and analyzed by applying appropriately developed cognitive mapping methods to reveal key policy considerations, valued outcomes and perceptions of complexity. Individual map analysis and comparisons of policy making at each level revealed greater structural differences than similarities. These findings indicate a complex domain with various ramifications perceived in different ways by individual policy makers. Despite structural differences, policies at all levels in Greece contained a clear focus on the economic sustainability of tourism, reflecting a rather parochial perspective on sustainable tourism.