In 1980, R. W. Butler published his tourism area cycle of evolution model graphing a correlation of number of tourists on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. Although a location’s capacity for number of tourists and the specific number of sustainable years may vary from location to location, Butler proposed that every tourist location evolves through a common set of stages: exploration, involvement, development, consolidation, stagnation, and then some variation of rejuvenation or decline. Butler’s model frames the resources that enable a region to become a tourist destination as finite and ultimately exhaustible.
Rather than imagining a tourist destination always being a tourist destination, Butler recognizes that change is constant and that, ultimately, the initial reasons a location becomes a desirable tourist destination will no longer exist and the location will either need to seek rejuvenation or face decline. Embedded within Butler’s model is a call for sustainability and the conservation of resources, thereby increasing the length of time a location can maintain being a viable tourist destination. There is also an implicit call for closer collaboration and integration of the tourism industry and the local community to better shield the local community from potential exploitation or disenfranchisement.
Hwang, Leo. 2017. "Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle and Its Expansion to the Creative Economy." The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Travel and Tourism. ed. Linda L. Lowry, SAGE Publications, Inc.