Researchers :

Benoît Gilson, Nadège Comhaire, Sandrine Meyer
Coordinator : Pr. Dr. Guido Van Steendam, Higher Institute of Philosophy (HIW), K.U.Leuven.
Other members : Pr. Dr. Henk Oliviť and Pr. Dr. Ir. Erik Duval, Department of Computer Science (CW, K.U.Leuven)

Description :

Project funded by the OSTC (Sustainable Mobility PADD 1)

Summary :

Tourism is very likely to become another major example of non-sustainable development. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors with important possibilities for the development of specific natural or cultural sites, for the generation of new income and for job creation. This and several other reasons will keep tourism growing. On the other hand it is clear that tourism drastically increases the saturation of our transport facilities, and that is has a negative impact on the quality of the environment and on the safety of our roads.

In order to guarantee the sustainable development of tourism, there is an urgent need to understand what exactly moves people towards what kind of tourist behaviour. What are the determining factors of the tourists demands for mobility? It is also important to know where exactly within this behaviour "handles" can be found that policy makers can grip to interfere. The first major objective of the present project is to answer these questions and to make a "social map" of the determining factors of tourist mobility. The map focuses on the determinants of the demand for mobility. The work is done by combining three interdependent, but complementary tasks.

1. The project starts with a standard, state-to-the-art economic analysis of mobility and its determinants.

2. Using social practice models, these economic data are combined with other empirical data to identify the deeper structure and dynamics of human behaviour.

3. Because of the complexity and flexibility of the empirical data that are collected, the project also has to rely on the most recent developments in database management strategies.

The result of this map would be a clear overview of the social structure and dynamics of the behaviour that determines the tourist mobility of families in Belgium. The map also allows to make tentative predictions of scenario's which are likely to happen, and to identify "handles" for managers and policy-makers.

This fundamental analysis is made in three rounds. Once to analyse the determinants of traditional problems of mobility and reduced mobility. Once to trace the determinants of the impact of mobility on the environment. Finally to explore the determinants of the impact of mobility on road safety.

In this way the project also answers another question of strategic importance. There is an urgent need, not just to understand and monitor what is going on in tourism, but also to develop a general methodology to understand the determinants of the demand for mobility. The project develops such methodology by linking the methodologies of "chains of activities" and "discrete choices" to the models of social practices. This is the second objective of the project.

The network combines the strength of the highest expertise in each of the three fields involved. Furthermore, each group of the network is active in several high level international academic and trans-disciplinary networks. This guarantees that the results of the project will be published in international journals and discussed during international workshops and conferences. Furthermore, the members of the network are directly or indirectly involved in official programs promoting sustainable tourism, or in political strategies implementing the Rio Convention. A third objective of the project is to make sure that the results find their way to policy-making and to the end-user. Linking all relevant data that the project generates to the SMIS meta-database (online on WWW) is only one way for the research groups to achieve this objective.

Available documents :

Résumé exécutif (Pdf)

Executive summary (Pdf)

Rapport final (Pdf)


Beginning : January 1998
End : December 2000


Analyzing and Monitoring Social Practices
that Determine the Demand for Mobility -
Tourism and mobility