Urban tourism hypertrophy: who should deal with it? The case of Krakow (Poland)

Piotr Zmyślony (Department of Tourism, Faculty of International Business and Economics, Poznań University of Economics and Business, Poznań, Poland)
Joanna Kowalczyk-Anioł (Department of Urban Geography, Faculty of Geographical Sciences, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Publication date: 26 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to analyze the phenomenon of urban tourism hypertrophy (UTH) in the context of the process of tourism-related social conflicts formation; and second, to discuss the extent to which destination management organizations (DMOs) are prepared to take responsibilities and actions undertaken in this process.


The paper adopts conflict management (CM) theory as a framework for discussing UTH within the city context. The paper then analyzes the empirical example of social conflict in Kraków (Poland) to assess the predispositions of key institutions engaged in destination governance to lead CM process triggered by UTH. The Circle of Conflict approach proposed by C. Moore (The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict, Jossey Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2014) is utilized as the main application method.


The study shows that DMO is the most appropriate entity to deal with UTH as a conflict manager; however, it has insufficient resources to fulfill all requirements relating to that role. Therefore, the range of responsibilities and roles of the contemporary DMOs should be completed with CM as the permanent task during UTH crisis.

Research limitations/implications

The example study was based on interviews carried out with a limited number of informants. Also, the contextual nature of the research as well as specific destination governance structure in Kraków blurred the picture of DMOs predispositions to leading the CM process.

Practical implications

The study supports urban DMO managers by suggesting a tool of diagnosis and intervention in UTH-induced conflicts. Thus, it makes fulfilling the mediator role a destination governance task.

Social implications

CM brings agreement among parties as to the understanding of the nature of conflict, which forms the basis for quick and mutually agreed actions, according to sustainable development principles.


The paper proposes an alternative approach to mitigate UTH-related problems in cities by adopting the CM framework which emphasizes the universal nature of conflict causes and proposes adequate tools for undertaking actions by DMOs.



Zmyślony, P. and Kowalczyk-Anioł, J. (2019), "Urban tourism hypertrophy: who should deal with it? The case of Krakow (Poland)", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 247-269. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-07-2018-0051

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