A chaos approach to tourism

Robert Douglas McKercher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

295 Citations (Scopus)


Chaos theory and its companion model, complexity theory, are emerging as legitimate schools of thought to describe how complex systems function. This paper argues that tourism essentially functions as a chaotic, non-linear, non-deterministic system. As such, existing tourism models fail to explain fully the complex relationships that exist between and among the various elements that constitute a tourism system. The paper concludes by proposing an alternative model of tourism based on the principles of chaos theory that incorporates the nine elements that combine to explain how tourism functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-434
Number of pages10
JournalTourism Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1999


  • Chaos theory
  • Complexity
  • Systems
  • Tourism models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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