For long holiday tourism has been in the grip of economic thinking and sociological research. On this webpage a more balanced view is maintained on the focal centre of tourists' activities: tourists themselves and their encounter with their holiday destination. Tourists take what is given to them and then turn it into their own ends; it is these ends what is of our primary interest and more than 25 articles on this site are about just that: the tourists' tourism.

Under the heading "Tourism" a new article has been added on Climate Change (July, 2020)

and also under the heading "Tourism" I have added a new article about Phenomenology and Tourism (Feb. 2020).

Tourist Attractions – Impsources

All rights reserved. Complete or partial reproduction is prohibited without the permission of Marinus Gisolf and without mentioning the source

The Tourist and sustainable Impsources

The climax of the holiday has been described has the intake of impact calories through the senses, which are then processed by the tourist into experiences. The source where the ImpCal are taken from is called Impsource; tourist attractions form part of it. It is important to note at this point, that tourists experience many things and that many of them do not need to come necessarily from tourist attractions. In any environment other than the home scene (a condition in tourism), everywhere you can see, hear of smell something new – in other words things are notices. The tourist experiences also concern, therefore, the environment, the local population, the colours of the houses or the smells of local cuisine. We can divide the experiences into those being the result of purposely built tourist attractions (museum, canopy tour of a artificial ski slope) or those which are accidental, such as a flog of sheep crossing the road, a local religious gathering or also unpleasant ones, such as an accident or a flooding.

There are sources, which are for tourist exclusively, and others that form part of the daily life of local people and would have been there anyway.

ImpCal intake may be the focus point of the holiday; it does not limit itself, however, to the tourist attractions and their surroundings. Before arriving at the place where ImpCal intake can take place – the so-called Impsource – the tourist has already had a series of encounters. In the area of the Impsource one has to stay overnight using the local infrastructure, including roads, shops or restaurants. This infrastructure, which is used prior to the visit of the Impsource, is also part of the total experience. This Main Impsource forms the reason, why the tourist wanted to go to that particular destination. However, there are many other things a tourist can enjoy apart from the main Impsource. This can take place using the so-called Side Impsources. The tourist reached a destination to see some famous waterfall, but at the same time other tourist attractions can be created nearby. A hotel may develop a botanical garden, an old watermill may be restored, the organization is of a music festival is another option and in this way there are many possibilities to offer ImpCal for some financial compensation, obviously.

Souvenirs or other type stores may offer additional Impsources. People like buying little things from the area they are visiting – supposing, that these products are produced effectively in that area and contain some original or cultural elements that belong to the local population.

One of the reasons to offer Side Impsources is, that the people want to keep tourist as long as possible within their region. The more there is to see, the greater the chance the tourist may stay a night longer. We are not talking about the ImpCal potential of just one source, but about the ImpCal value of an entire region. An area, where there are many different things to do – in other words with high ImpCal potential – attracts more tourists than an area tourists arrive to see just one Impsource and then immediately continue their journey. Tourist attractions have an ImpCal value, but a region has one, too: the some of individual Impsources.

A hotel can be an Impsource in itself and not only serve as “base camp” in between visits to the various Main Impsources of the area. Even more than that, in an effort to keep the tourists for more nights, there is a pronounced tendency for hotels to offer all kinds of Side Impsources: beautiful gardens, swimming pools, Jacuzzi, tennis courts, golf links or casinos. So, there are Main Impsources, then there are the Side Sources offered as an extra value for the area, but there are also Impsources, which are just on the main road and may form a potential experience for free. We call these Shared Impsources, because the local population can get ImpCal intake, too, although the resulting experience has nothing to do with tourism in their case.


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In cities you see mostly Shared Impsources, which never have been intended to be there just for tourists. Elephants are part of every day’s local life in India.


That is to say that these shared Impsources are called like that depending on the fact, if the tourist gets ImpCal from them or not. Some tourists may simply not notice them. Besides the three aforementioned Impsources there is a fourth, which has no infrastructure at all and has never been intended for tourists. It may be a nice piece of forest, a place may get sudden fame for some natural phenomenon or a herd of sheep may cross the road. We call these the Incidental Impsources. Accidents – unfortunate as they may be – form also part of these fortuitous Impsources.

When we look at the effects tourism may have on the Impsources and when we do so from the sustainability point of view, we have to make a distinction between the different levels there are. We mentioned 4 different types of Impsources:


the main reason, why a tourist goes to a certain destination. This type of Impsources usually is large scale. As example we may mention the Iguazu Waterfalls or the Kruger Park.


near the main Impsource; uses the presence of the tourists at a destination. Therefore the side Impsources or of a smaller scale and they are especially developed for tourists. We can think of spa facilities in a hotel, the so-called Canopy Tours or a folkloric dance group for tourists.


these ImpCal sources are also used by others; in other words these Impsources had existed and will continue to exist independently from the fact if there are tourists or not. The presence of the Shared Impsources does not mean that the tourist uses them – he may not even notice them or may not recognize them as such. It may be about an old little church, a village fair or a romantic lane in the woods.


sudden circumstances which never were intended for tourists. An animal suddenly crossing the road or just meeting nice people can be examples of this group. These Impsources were never constructed or developed as such and have no owner. They may be of a negative nature, too: accidents or crime also form part of this group of Impsources.

The influence tourism can have on Impsources can be noticed on different levels. There are the physical impacts (pollution is one of them) and the socio-cultural ones (discrimination is an example). Apart from this distinction, there is a group of Impsources that do not change when used (e.g. white water rafting, which should not alter the river in any way), or those Impsources that do suffer from the presence of tourists: a forest for example. Finally we can distinguish those Impsources that caused certain damage when developed, while others did not.

At this point we should pause and start realizing that an ImpCal source only exists because human beings labelled it as such. A landscape becomes a landscape because people are looking at it. A waterfall may have been crashing down for thousands of years, but it only becomes an Impsource when someone has the know-how to get people there to watch it. In that sense an Impsource is always a manmade creation, independent of the fact that the source existed before, in one way or another.

In the case of the main Impsources we can see that it is quite likely that some damage was caused when developing this type of Impsource on physical and socio-cultural levels, more than anything else, because of the large scale character of it. The same holds true for the use of this type of Impsources that on the same grounds may cause large scale pollution or suffering the effects of overcrowding. There are cases that the main Impsource was already there (Iguazu waterfalls e.g.), but the enormous infrastructure created around it has had its impact on the environment. There is a different story for the side Impsources, because they are of a smaller scale and should not have caused that much damage when constructed or during use. This should also be the case for any socio-cultural impacts. A completely different case is that of the shared Impsources, which never have been developed just for tourism and therefore cannot have caused much damage either; the same applies to the incidental Impsources, too. With the use of the shared Impsources we assume that little damage is done, or it must the same damage the locals cause when they use these sources, such as emissions of public buses. A damaging impact the side Impsources may have is the fact of too many people at one place, certainly when it concerns nature areas (Canopy Tour); noise pollution may be another problem. A village may be suffocated by too may tourists resulting in a near exclusive use for tourist of shared Impsources and the locals have to keep up with the fact that their village was converted into a foreign town.

The impact of Impsources on the environment can be summarized as follows:







Main Impsources





Side Impsources





Shared Impsources





Incidental Impsources





D stands for Damaging and N for not damaging; D/N means that it is not clear cut

The above table shows us that the more idealistic tourist will realize that the shared Impsources and incidental Impsources cause less harm to the environment. The reason because of the character of these Impsources and because of their small scale size. The large scale tourism projects are the ones causing most harm, apart from problem areas such as overcrowding (beaches!). Unfortunately not all in the world of tourism can be small scale, even less so taking into consideration that the numbers of tourists travelling every year is increasing at an impressive pace.

There are different ways a tourist can organize his holidays. He can travel individually or with a group, he can have booked all hotels and transport beforehand or he may have arranged nothing at all. Depending the way how a tourist has planned his holidays we can have a look what Impsources he is most likely to have his ImpCal intake from.

Resort tourism:

The main Impsource is the resort hotel itself. There are some side Impsources which are easy to relate to for any tourist (spa, horseback riding on the beach or a golf course, just to mention a few). It has been made hard for a toursit to leave the hotel grounds, which means tourists can have little ImpCal intake from local places or population; in other words shared Impsources hardly play a role, while the incidental ones in such protected environment are not likely to occur either. Hotel staff is for most part form the cities and usually represent very little “local” elements.

The same remarks for resort hotels can be applied to cruise ships, too.

Group travel (comfort):

This type of travel arrangements usually visit some well known main Impsources (tourist highlights) and may offer the possibility to visit side Impsources. Hotels are comfortable , which means that part of the hotel staff may be contracted from city areas. The number of shared Impsources is limited, but they are there. Every day the coach crosses the country and on the way stops can be made. There is even a tendency among Tour Operators to visit local schools or families to enhance the ImpCal intake from shared Impsources. For the same reasons there is more chance for the incidental Impsources to occur (flog of sheep crossing the road or a local funeral, for example).

Group travel (low budget):

Perhaps this type of group travel visits a few main Impsources, but that does not always need to be the case and furthermore they will visit a number of side Impsources. The number of shared Impsources is high, mainly because of the use of public transport and for the same reason the incidental Impsources will certainly present themselves. Contact with the local population may be of importance for the experiences gained by this type of tourists.

Individual travel (F.I.T.) – rental car:

Depending on the wishes the tourists has he may visit a number of main and side Impsources. Obviously he will have a fair amount of possibilities of ImpCal intake from shared Impsources, since he travels by car through the country. Incidental Impsources may certainly occur, too (and we hope only the positive ones!). The last two Impsources mentioned depend on the tourist´s attitude to be recognized as such.


This type of tourists usually do not visit main or side Impsources, since they do not want to pay for them. For backpackers it is more about the incidental Impsources and obviously they will get many chances to have ImpCal intake from shared Impsources. Precisely in the case of this way of travelling haphazardly the incidental Impsources are the most important ones, also, because they have no economic value.

Backpackers have a tendency to boast the fact how they arranged things just on the basis of chance meetings.

There are many ways more to travel, and we can mention sailing trips (no shared Impsources at sea….), mountain trekking or short weekend break-aways. They all make use in different ways of the available Impsources in a area, country or region.

Every destination has a certain number of main and side Impsources and obviously they count with shared and incidental ones, too. We can say, therefore, that each destination has a certain ImpCal value, which counts for the sum of main and side Impsources. Apart from these Impsources an area may have a high potential of shared Impsource, such as picturesque villages or medieval towns.

Apart from the Impsources at any tourist destination we find a tourist infrastucture, such as hotels, restaurants, shops, information offices, etc. We can map a destination on the basis of its different types of Impsources available as well as the amount of infrastructure there is for tourists. Below an example of how we could map the village of Tortuguero on the Costa Rican Caribbean coast,  which only can be reached by boats of small planes:

Destination: TORTUGUERO

Main Impsource: Tortuguero National Park

Side Impsources: Hiking up the Tortuguero Hill, canoeing, turtle nesting

Shared Impsources: little original population, getting by boat meand little “local” things, much of ht ehotel staff from the cities, most villagers work in tourism

Incidental Impsources: Except for spotting wild animals there are none, because everything is by boat

Infrastructure: Hotels 1-3 star, not more than one floor high, 10-70 rooms. No roads. To be reached by small boats or planes. No further infrastructure for tourists.

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All rights reserved. Complete or partial reproduction is prohibited without the permission of Marinus Gisolf and without mentioning the source

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