How to cite this article;

K C Komsary, W P Tarigan, and T Wiyana. (2017). Limits of acceptable change as tool for tourism development sustainability in Pangandaran West Java. Proceeding of The 4th Friendly City International Conference (Scopus). Universitas Sumatera Utara. October 11st, 2017. Medan. Indonesia


Limits of acceptable change as tool for tourism development sustainability in Pangandaran West Java

Hotel Management and Tourism Department, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta Indonesia


Abstract. Pangandaran since 2006 has become a model of sustainable tourism development. A program aimed to empower local communities to prepare work plans and activities to enrich the various potential development of sustainable tourism. By empowering local community, business competition in the tourism sector has led to the uncontrollable development of the tourism sector. This become the main concern of the negative impact of physical changes in the area. This study aims to identify and measure the acceptable changes (limits of acceptable change-LAC) as well as the impact of the development of tourism in Pangandaran to remain adaptable as a tourist attraction. Using traditional LAC framework as a basis, this study considers how to determine acceptable levels of impact that occurs on the Pangandaran area. This method involves stakeholders in determining the values, issues, and concerns and to determine acceptable levels of impact for this region then the acceptance rate compared with the effects of the current state. Through review and analysis methods used in this study, the LAC situations in Pangandaran is outlined. Results from this study is expected to identify indicators of sustainable development of tourism sector through LAC approach.

  1. Introduction

The development of tourism after the 2006 tsunami in Pangandaran West Java Indonesia has changed the physical area especially in the of Pangandaran beach coastal are. The development of many semi-permanent tourist facilities in the area not only reduces the quality of the landscape of this region but also threatens sustainability of Pangandaran Beach area in supporting a variety of tourism facilities and activities. The uncontrolled development was due to the widely opened business opportunities in the tourism sector, but not accompanied by good sustainable management practices at this area. Considering the condition of Pangandaran beach tourism recently, the management of sustainable tourism development in this area needs to be re-evaluated, especially to determine any impact that has been caused by the spontaneous development of tourism.

Pangandaran since 2006 has become a model of sustainable tourism development through energy efficiency as well as adaptation and mitigation activities (Sustainable Tourism through Energy Efficiency with Adaptation and Mitigation Measures – STREAM). The program initiated by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia together with UNWTO aimed to empower local communities to prepare work plans and activities to enrich the various potential development of sustainable tourism. Somehow during the field study, it is discovered that local community empowerment is not running as it planned. The empowerment is interpreted by local community as an opportunity to open business as wide as possible without considering the impact they might caused on the area. However, the impact of tourism development in the area has changed the physical condition and activities throughout the coastline area and its resources. The massive utilization of tourism resources by local small enterprise in this area resulting in damage to the resource itself, unfairly business competition and various other negative impacts.

There are several frameworks to control the tourism development specially to limit excessive land use such as Recreational Opportunity Spectrum (ROS), Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC), Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP), Visitor Impact Management (VIM), and Benefits-Based Management (BBM).  For the case of Pangandaran coastline area, there is an excessive land use for tourism development. For the case of Pangandaran the authors suggest LAC framework to be used to measure how much the changes and impacts occurred because of a variety of tourism activities in this region. Limits of acceptable change is a framework for planning development based on an impact threshold which can be received in a natural environment [1].

  1. Literature review
  2. Limits of acceptable change (LAC)

In the field of tourism management, carrying capacity is considered as a concept that can serve as guidelines for the control of progressive tourism development or in other words can be used as a tool of policy interventions in tourism development. This approach is reconceptualized into the tourism destination management tool with an objective approach, such as LAC – the threshold of changes which are still acceptable. Tourism resources need to be protected from damage and for the benefit of local people in terms of providing jobs for the future.

Carrying capacity and the number of acceptable change (LAC) is the key to progress in the development of recreation and tourism management [2]. LAC approach is applied to limit how much an area can tolerate a change due to a variety of tourist activity and development. This approach is applied to manage human-induced changed area. The LAC main concern in how much impact is acceptable and what strategy should be taken to avoid unacceptable impacts [2]. LAC offers a framework for a broader spectrum of the public participation in nature-based regional planning [3], which is in Pangandaran area many tourism activities are managed or run by local people. LAC approach also considers the availability of resources and social conditions [4] which at Pangandaran coastal area there are conflict of interest in the utilization of natural resources by the local people. This LAC approach is applied to mitigate conflicts between recreational activities, tourism and the conservation of resources based on the limits of acceptable change.

For some reasons, the development of tourism facilities and equipment will enhance the quality of social and environmental at the destination if developed with proper planning, design, and mitigation [5]. After the devastating tsunami hit Pangandaran in 2006, local community of the affected area used this moment to rebuild facilities without proper planning and design

Document issued by the Pangandaran Tourism Management Plan (2009) has set several indicators to measure the impact caused by tourism activities in Pangandaran such as 1) the natural environment, 2) built environment, 3) Social culture, and 4) Social economy. But so far there has been no analysis of the magnitude of what has happened on the indicators that have been compiled.  There are nine stages in the application of LAC used to assess and evaluate the changes that can be received on a region. These stages are:

  • Identification of problems/issues and concerns of the area – This stage is important for stakeholders to understand the issues surrounding resources in affected areas and underlying decisions on taking action what to do next.
  • Define and describe class recreational opportunities – This step is intended to identify the type of recreational experience available. The purpose of this stage is to determine the condition of the existing regional and desired future conditions.
  • Select indicators of resources and social conditions – Indicators are specific elements of the biophysical and social environment chosen to represent (or be “indicative”) appropriate and acceptable conditions in every class of recreational opportunities.
  • Inventory of resources and social conditions that exist today – Information generated from the results of inventory used to evaluate what actions will be taken based on the conditions that exist today.
  • Sets the standard for resource and social indicators – The determination of these standards provides the measurement and value of current conditions can be accepted or not.
  • Identify alternatives – This stage is used to allocate various management alternatives.
  • Identification of management actions – Identification of actions need to be considered when the condition of the area is already at a level close to or below the acceptable change.
  • Evaluate and select alternatives – This phase stakeholders can already choose an option of action to be performed.
  • Implementation and monitoring – It is the final stage in which the selection of the actions carried out and supervised.
    • Previous limits of acceptable change implication in Pangandaran

By the year 2009 Pangandaran Tourism Management Plan (TMP) issued a document contained an impact assessment indicators on the Pangandaran. The indicators consisting the aspects of natural environment, built environment, socio-economic and socio-cultural. The application of tourism development impact indicators in Pangandaran was intended to avoid excessive impact of changes that can be accepted in the tourist area of Pangandaran.

Table 1. LAC indicators Pangandaran based on Pangandaran Tourism Management Plan

Indicators Measurement
Culture –      The influence of local cultural traditions and to the development of coastal recreational activities (unique games) and local fishing activities (special fishing techniques).

–      Complaints from local communities with respect to changes in lifestyle, especially youth

–      Number of cafes with negative image

Physical –      The number of animals (deer) were seen in public area

–      The volume of waste

–      Density of vehicle

Infrastructure –      The ratio number of public toilets

–      Percentage (%) of the composition of sports or games in the area

–      Density of traders on the beach (density of the vendors at the beach)

Safety and security –      The density of visitors to the beach (density of visitors at the beach)

–      Percentage of visitor satisfaction towards nature-based tourism products and services

Local people –      Local people attitudes toward changes in local culture

The exploitation of natural resources in pursuit of economic development as well as in fulfilling the socio-economic needs of local communities as is currently happening in Pangandaran plays a part in changing the natural and physical condition. This situation also affects the development of tourism which is highly depending on excessive use natural resources as a tourist attraction, although local communities benefiting from tourism economically [6]. Over-exploitation can affect the tourism business in the future for its sustainability primarily on the management of its resources to meet the needs of present generations, while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the next generation [7]. The policy intervention through LAC needed to support sustainable tourism development in order to:

  • Set a tolerable limit for the sustainability of tourism activities in the area;
  • Measuring tourism carrying capacity.

Therefore, changes that are acceptable in Pangandaran the needs to be set to keep area ability to support local communities in economic, cultural, and environmental through tourism sectors.

  1. Methodology

This study is conducted by determining indicators based on issues and conditions at tourist area of Pangandaran to establish and apply limits of acceptable change to be used to monitor and identify violations of acceptable change limits because of tourism activities. Changes that occur used as guideline to identify acceptable threshold changes that are particularly related to land carrying capacity limits. These indicators enable tourism stakeholders in tourism destinations to cope with increasing pressure from tourism development. There are 3 types of indicators proposed to reflect the acceptable limit of change:

  • The physical environment
  • Social
  • The natural environment

The consideration of the determination of these three main indicators is based on several main considerations. As it is understood that tourism is an activity where in the planning and development needs a balance in the management of the physical environment. Therefore, the implementation of development should be based on the carrying capacity of the environment. Carrying capacity is often seen as a management tool to protect sites and resources from overuse. One form of carrying capacity is the physical environment, a quantitative measure of the number of people or the variety of uses that a site can support [8]. In the case of Pangandaran, there is excessive physical use of the land, especially for accommodation business development and the utilization of shoreline for various tourism supporting facilities and activities. This excessive development affects the density of physical buildings in the tourist area of Pangandaran and the mobility of tourists especially during the holiday season (high season). Excessive use of land certainly results in a decrease in the carrying capacity of the area.

Hall and Page [8] suggest that social carrying capacity is the ability of individuals and groups to tolerate others following their various activities and levels of acceptance (specific conditions). The social carrying capacity was first triggered by Pigram and Jenkins [9]who suggested social support as the maximum limit of recreational activities both from the number of visitors and the activities performed and measured through the deterioration of the quality of the visitor experience from the point of view of the participants. As a framework for controlling the social impacts of tourism, the social carrying capacity mentioned in this paper is not only as a maximal measure in the utilization of tourism resources and activities in involving tourists and the community, but as a maximal measure of community and tourist involvement in a tourism activity in an area.

This social carrying capacity can serve as a framework in limiting social contact between tourists and the community, as well as communities with the community in tourism activities of course with reference to rules and norms that apply and still make tourism as an inclusive activity. This social support relies on community involvement in tourism development planning. This carrying capacity can be applied within the framework of community involvement in tourism (community-based tourism). This carrying capacity framework can be:

  • Zoning of tourism business undertaken by local communities.
  • Regulation in involving the community in tourism activities serves as a preventive regulation in avoiding negative impact such as prostitution.
  • The age limit of workers involved in tourism businesses
  • Development of special areas of recreation for people who are not directly involved in tourism activities. For some cases, the development of tourism infrastructure in a region creates conflicts with the surrounding community due to the reduced comfort of the people as the activities in the area increase, while the community can not enjoy the facilities.
  • Continuous and consistent guidance to local community about the consequences of tourism presence in an area and what can be done by the community.

From the ecological side, exploitation of natural resources for economic sector in meeting the socio-economic needs of local communities, has greatly contributed to reducing forest area and reducing biodiversity. The case that occurred in the west coast of Pangandaran is the number of wild animals (deer) that roam the tourist area. The interaction of tourists with these wild animals causes a change of dietary pattern because of frequent hand-feeding by tourists. The method of applying acceptable change limits is illustrated in the following figure below:

Table 1. Method for applying the limits of acceptable change indicators at Pangandaran

Aspects Assessment of tourism development Proposed LAC indicators
–  Physical environmental aspects

–  Social environment aspects

–  Ecological aspects

–  Level of development

–  Assessment of tourist attraction

–  Assessment of tourist activity

–  Tourist characteristic assessment

–  Limits of acceptable physical environment changes

–  Limits of social change

–  Limits on changes in ecological environment

  1. Research findings

4.1. Issues on Pangandaran

Some of the issues or problems that need to be addressed in Pangandaran:

  • Setting up zoning for recreational activities
  • Relocation the physical building of street vendor
  • Restructuring the waste management
  • Restructuring parking area

The above issues based on point rating system conducted in Pangandaran that shows some impacted aspects in the area as shown on Figure 1.

Figure 1. Percentage level of impacts occurred in Pangandaran

The most significant impact occurred in Pangandaran caused by high number of tourist arrivals in the 1990s has turned the local people to become more dependent on tourism than in the fisheries sector which is economically more profitable and have better sustainability level if managed properly [10]. The golden era of tourism in from 1990s to late 2000s has significantly changed the livelihood local people surrounding the coastal area from fisherman to street vendors led to the transformation of shoreline landscape into a neighbourhood of street vendors with semi-permanent buildings. As the area developed, the occurrences of negative impact also arise in the area.

In the other hand, the growing tourism development in this area has a good economic impact on the community, such as community efforts in the form of small enterprises such as water sport equipment’s rental, souvenir shops, homestays, etc. But the growing tourism sector also has leave negative footprint on environment.

As the purpose of this study was to establish indicators of acceptable change limits (LAC) based on the impact that has been and is happening in Pangandaran, there are four types of indicators can be proposed which can be used for planning, analysis, monitoring and evaluation of tourism development [11]:

  • Warning indicators, which is used to alert decision makers to the critical situation that requires immediate action.

2)  The indicator for the level of pressure on the natural environment (environmental stress).

3)  Baseline indicators for the rate of change in the environment.

4)  Impact indicators used to monitor problems arising from environmental destruction

4.2. Proposed LAC indicators

Based on the results of analysis of the impact occurring in Pangandaran the authors suggest the indicators to be used as boundary level of changes that can be accepted.

Table 2. Proposed indicators of acceptable change limits in Pangandaran

(based on the key issues)

Indicators Type of impact Impact management
1.     Percentage (%) area lost due to tourism development




2.     Percentage (%) wild animals roam out of natural habitat


3.     Percentage (%) of waste discharged into the sea without any purification process


4.     Percentage (%) of tourists experienced a certain density level


5.     Percentage (%) change of local livelihood



6.     Percentage (%) of people who depend on tourism


7.     Ratio number of built environment to open space

Natural environment





Natural environment



Natural environment





Natural environment











Physical (built environment)

–   Restrictions of maximum area that could be built for tourism activities based on regulations

–   Zoning


–   Environmental zoning between the visitors with wildlife


–   Water purification treatment

–   Improvement of drainage system




Zoning of tourist activity area




–    Skill assessment, assistance to local communities



–    Diversification of SMEs



–    Spatial planning

–    Control of physical development business permit restrictions

Those indicators are proposed for several reasons. First, the indicators above illustrate the current situation on the tourist area of Pangandararan affected by high tourism activities need to be managed to avoid further conflict between community involved in tourism sector especially in land use for tourism business. Secondly overcrowding often seemed as a problem during holiday high season in the area due to lack of zoning for various tourism activities. This situation become factor for reducing tourist experience during holiday. Finally, the sustainability of tourism development was put at stake if there is no evasive response over impacts along the coastline of Pangandaran tourist area. No clear management after tsunami stroke the area in 2006 has caused excessive land use for tourism with no boundaries between activities in the area.

  1. Discussions and conclusions

This study conducted in Pangandaran has some limitations for example the response from the respondent can not be said fully represent the overall condition of Pangandaran due to low season the of the area. The response might be different if the study was conducted during peak/high season. The results may be different. This study results may illustrate some of the area of the Pangandaran west coast have exceeded the acceptable carrying capacity, but it should be underlined that Pangandaran as a tourist area is in declining of tourist number, especially foreign tourists compared to the 1990s, so the acceleration toward the acceptable threshold changes not as fast as expected. The physical changes that occur in the Pangandaran allegedly more influenced by efforts to accommodate the needs of tourists who prefer recreational activities which is highly depends of infrastructures.

In practice, LAC is a managerial tool in providing a framework for the management to diversify the recreational experience and not to provide standard amenities for recreationist [12] as suggested in Pangandaran. Thus, it can be said if the LAC is used as a tool for managers to “curb” in developing infrastructure or facilities in protected areas.

The application of LAC as a framework is intended to limit the physical development on a massive scale, the contact between the traveler with the community, and society to the tourism activities with referring to the applicable rules and norms. Setting the framework limits of acceptable change is highly dependent on the government and the involvement of local communities in tourism development planning. This framework can be arranged within the framework of community involvement in tourism (community-based tourism). Some important considerations establishment of indicators can be:

  • Zoning of tourism business conducted by the local community.
  • Standard rules for community involvement in tourism activities such as performing arts and culture. This rule also serves as a preventive rule to avoid commodification and commercialization of culture.
  • The age limit for workers involved in the business of tourism
  • Development of special recreation area for local people who are not directly involved in tourism activities. Often the development of tourism infrastructure in an area of conflict with local resident due to the comfort of residents decreased with increasing activities in the area, while the public can not enjoy such facilities.
  • Continuous and consistent guidance to local communities about the consequences of the presence of tourism in an area.


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