Rudi Hartmann* - University of Colorado
The critical mass theory originally developed in physics has been increasingly applied to the study of social phenomena. This paper examines the potential of applications in the study of tourism dynamics. In particular, the questions is asked whether critical mass theory can contribute to the further explanation of the take-off phase of evolving resort areas and the eventual slowing of the dynamics in a maturing tourist destination setting, an evolutionary process as first sketched by Walter Christaller and later successfully modeled by Richard Butler in the Tourist Area Life Cycle (TALC). In the final part of the paper the question will be addressed of whether the critical mass theory can be usefully connected to the wider field of evolutionary economic geography in tourism.