USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET
THE DEVELOPMENT OF TOURIST ATTRACTIONS,
BASED ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SALT MINE IN
Adam R. Szromek**
Abstract: Tourist attractions are the main feature of a tourism product. The Salt Mine in
Wieliczka is the most visited and best commercialized tourist attraction in Poland, unique on
a world scale, a mining site inscribed on the UNESCO list. In the following work, the authors
have attempted to use R.W. Butler’s model of tourism area evolution to interpret the mine’s
phases of development. From 1945 to 2007 two cycles of development are isolated, the collapse
of tourist attendance in the mines being caused by external factors (the collapse of the tourism
market in the 1980s and the flooding of the walkways in 1993). At present, the mine receives
over one million tourists a year, placing it at the forefront of the most popular tourist attrac-
tions, while the changes to the tourism product and the structure of the visitors indicate that
it is achieving the ‘rebirth’ phase outlined by Butler’s model.
Key words: tourist attraction, Salt Mine in Wieliczka, TALC Tourism Area Life Cycle, Butler
Cycle, Butter Model.
Among the diverse conditions of contemporary tourism development,
tourist attractions play a key role; they are one of the most important com-
ponents of a tourism system. Gunn and Rusk [1979, p. 371] describe them
as the main ingredient of the whole system, alongside such components as
transport, tourist services, information and management. The notion of
“tourist attractions” is a broad one, including not only elements of nature
and culture, but also price levels, the attitude of the locals toward tourists
and tourism, the tourist facilities and the whole technical infrastructure,
and the chance to experience something remarkable.
* Ph.D. Tourism and Recreation Department, Institute of the Geography of Tourism,
Univeristy School of Physical Education, Poland: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Ph.D. Management and Organization Department, Computers and Economics Institu-
te, Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland: e-mail: email@example.com.
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world’s most famous tourist at-
tractions. Beyond its rich history and the many functions it has served in
society (education, culture, health etc.), it is also an important research
site. One of the fields of research that takes place is the tourist activi-
ties in the mine.1 This is why the aim of the following work is to analyze
the development of tourist paths in the Wieliczka Salt Mine from 1945-
2010, with reference to R.W. Butler’s concept of tourist zone development.
His Tourism Area Life Cycle concept (TALC) ties in to the familiar eco-
nomics theory of the product life cycle, and the development of animal
populations. In the 30 years since its publication, Butler’s concept has
been applied to research on the development of tourist sites and areas, of
health spas, ports and tourist products. We might approach the Salt Mine
in Wieliczka as both a tourist attraction and a complex tourist product.
The value of the attraction itself generally decides upon the quality of the
product, which is the core of the profit in the tourist product structure.
Researching an attraction might help marketing goals tied to evaluating
and managing a tourist product. The measure of the value of a product
is its power to attract tourists; the fluctuating tourist attendance can be
represented by the logistic function “S.” The present authors have presup-
posed that it is possible to use the model of the Tourist Area Life Cycle to
analyze the development of single tourist attractions as we do locations or
The Characteristics of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka
The beginnings of the salt mine date back to the latter half of the 13th
century, if we overlook the salt manufacturing that occurred somewhere
around 5,000 years ago. The work of several dozen generations of Polish
miners shaped an underground world that is unique for its beauty and its
The mining site is unique on a world scale, containing an underground
chapel with rich decor, original walkway construction, and chambers where
miners once worked, featuring mining machines and equipment.
UNESCO inscribed the mine on its first World Natural and Cultural
Heritage List, where it was placed among the world’s top twelve sites. For
many years it served a dual function: salt was mined, while other cham-
1 In 2005 the directors of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka signed a contract to collaborate with
the Physical Education Academy in Krakow. The college took academic patronage over the
activities being carried out at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in tourism and physiotherapy, and Dr.
Zygmunt Kruczek was named plenipotentiary in carrying out tourism agreements.
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 251
bers were made accessible to tourists. Today, the mine is chiefly a tour-
ist site, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists annually [Kruczek,
The mine is well prepared to receive its guests. The site is accessible
to tourists for twelve hours a day. It is serviced by a professionally trained
personnel, who speak a number of languages. Around 300 qualified guides
work the mines. Before entering the shaft, tourists can pick up information
materials (guides, folders, video cassettes) in 12 languages. On the tourist
route souvenirs are available in an underground store, and there is an un-
derground post office, a restaurant, a cafe, and restrooms.
Each year the mine holds events on a regional, a national, and even
a world scale, attracting thousands of tourists. The most popular of these
would seem to be the International Minerals, Fossils and Jewelry Fair. An
added attraction for the fair’s visitors is the fact that they can try their hand
at sculpting with a chisel and salt rock. Other equally popular events include
the Underground International Tourist Attraction Fair and the “Personality
of the Year” concerts. In 2000 the mine held the world’s first underground
“Bungee Jumping Show,” and the world’s first underground hot-air balloon
flight. Moreover, the mine offers tourists a wide range of services, including
conferences, concerts, masses for groups of pilgrims, wedding ceremonies,
and banquets, dinners, and lunches. There are also New Year’s Eve parties
and pre-graduation parties (studniówki). An underground tennis court and
a field for team sports are available. Finally, the mine offers specialist guides
that take visitors beyond the tourist routes.
The mine is constantly working to improve its tourist program. All ef-
forts are made to take advantage of the opportunities that the mine pro-
vides, and to draw the greatest number of visitors. One of the more impor-
tant investments to increase the mine’s draw is the construction of a second
shaft – the “Regis” – into which tourists will descend from the surface in the
very heart of the town. Guests will travel in a stylish railway car from under
the “Wisła” chamber to an elevator. One of the more important planned
undertakings will be the staging of legends in English (they have thus far
been performed only in Polish). A multimedia museum has been created in
the newly opened chambers, allowing inaccessible parts of the mine to be
“visited” (such as the Crystal Grotto inanimate nature reserve); new tour-
ist products are also continually being created, such as the “New Adventure
Route” for thrill-seekers.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a modern management enterprise that em-
ploys around 250 full-time workers and over 300 tour guides. The pres-
ently implemented Motivational Reward System is a priority of the business
strategy in personnel policy [Kruczek, 2006, p.132].
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
The attractions incorporated in the “Wieliczka” name are handled by
The Salt Mine Museum (a unit controlled by the Ministry of Culture and
National Heritage). Two exhibitions have been arranged – in the under-
ground passages of the mine, and in the Salt Mine Castle up above,
• the “PPU Wieliczka” health resort.
• The Tourist Path Co. Ltd.
In 2010 the Wieliczka mine was visited by over one million tourists,
i.e. 2% more than in 2009. The mine is increasingly visited by tourists
from abroad – in the period mentioned, they represented 58% of all visi-
tors. In 2010 the British accounted for most of the foreign visitors to the
underground tunnels (58,874), followed by the Germans (40,248), Ital-
ians (37,617), French (33,575), and Koreans (32,540). The top fifteen were
rounded out by Norwegians, Americans, Spaniards, Russians, Hungarians,
Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes, Ukrainians, and Japanese. There were 4% more
Polish visitors than in the year previous.2
Guides descended into the heritage underground tunnels 43,000 times
in 2010; over half of them were Polish. Foreigners had guides speaking ten
foreign languages at their disposal. English, German, French, and Italian
have enjoyed the greatest popularity for a number of years.
Sociological studies indicate that tourists experience Wieliczka on the
highest emotional level. Leaving the mine, tourists are enormously excited
and satisfied – in a word, they are entirely content with having visited this
place. It is only for a minority of visitors that the mine is monotonous and
becomes tedious (after repeated visits) [Holota, 2001, p. 72].
An attraction of great renown should be profitable, and can be financed
from three sources:
• private sources (tickets and entry passes, services, souvenirs, space
• foundations, sponsor grants, bursaries,
• budgets (states or local).
The Wieliczka Mine is a profitable tourist attraction, and only uses
budget resources to a minor degree. The number of visitors has the greatest
impact on the mine’s income. Ticket proceeds make up three quarters of
the mine’s tourism income. In 2002, the Minister of the Economy and the
National Chamber of Economics awarded the mine the status of Founder of
the Brand-Name Academy, thus emphasizing its role in the development of
the Polish economy. This distinction confirmed that the mine enjoys a fine
reputation and deserves to be called a brand-name company. The Wieliczka
2 Salt Mine Ltd. data (www.kopalnia.pl; as of 12.06.2011).
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 253
Salt Mine was among the top winners of the “Golden Fifty” poll. In 2005 the
Polish Tourism Organization awarded a special certificate of quality for the
“Underground Escapade, or: An Adventure Tour” product.
Cyclical Development at the Salt Mine in Wieliczka
Economics literature presents numerous concepts of product evolution,
among which the most well-known is the product life-cycle formula [Kotler,
Turner 1993, pp. 3271-3397]. Focusing on the cyclical nature of the changes
occurring in a product’s development (in the largo sense) caused this issue
to develop vis-a-vis many typologically diverse products and services.
The phasic aspect of the shifts in tourist area popularity (as a product)
has been noted by researchers including S.C. Plog [2001, pp. 13-24], J.M.
Miossec [Pearce, 1995, p. 15], J.M. Thurot [Pearce, 1995, pp. 6-14] E. Grom-
sen [1981, pp. 150-170], and M. Opperman [1993, pp. 535-560]. And yet the
concept most frequently confirmed in the literature is R.W. Butler’s TALC
[1980, pp. 5-12]. TALC (Tourism Area Life Cycle) is a concept that describes
the changes occurring in the evolution of a tourist area. These changes are
described through six phases, characterized by different dynamics and focus-
es of the areas analyzed, using symptomatic variables, such as the number
of people coming to a certain area over the course of a year.
R.W. Butler gave symbolic names to the various phases: Exploration,
Involvement, Development, Consolidation, Stagnation, and Rejuvenation or
Decline. Thus, the first phase (exploration) takes place when countless indi-
vidual tourists arrive at a given location, attracted chiefly by its natural or
cultural assets. These are tourists who independently organize their trips,
and follow no tried-and-true recreation paths. Their impact on the lives of
inhabitants and the local economy is minimal.
Involvement takes place when tourists visit an area in growing num-
bers, and some of the inhabitants begin to draw their livelihood from ac-
commodation, gastronomy, health services, and the like. The inhabitants’
involvement proceeds through becoming active in the tourist economy, or
even focusing their activities exclusively on visitors. Expectations arise in
the area for organized forms of recreation, and there is pressure to improve
transport and conveniences for tourists.
The development phase begins at the moment when the tourist area
becomes one of the main sources of income, and the number of tourists
is either equivalent to or exceeds the number of permanent residents (at
the same time, this is a signal that the tourist market is well defined in
the area being studied). Tourist organizations from outside the tourist
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
area enter the region, pushing out the local businesses and depriving the
permanent residents of control over the development of how tourism func-
tions in the area.
The consolidation phase marks the full development of the tourism
functions in a given area. It is characterized by a reduced growth in num-
bers of tourists, and by tourism becoming the dominant industry in the local
economy. A gap occurs between the spaces with the town’s health/tourist
functions (sanatoriums, hotels, restaurants, etc.) and those with social func-
tions (e.g. households). Projects are taken up to extend the tourist season
and to expand the area in which services are offered. Antagonism from the
local population can grow with the intensification of obstacles in running
The stagnation phase brings a decisive halt to the growth dynamic of
the number of visitors, the attainment of a maximum quantity of tourists in
the area, and then a decline in the number of visitors. At this point the area
has a very well defined profile, but it has ceased to be fashionable, and its
image no longer fits the region.
The last phase of the cycle is either the rejuvenation or decline of the
area’s tourist function. Decline is characterized by a drop in numbers of
tourists, and the closure of unprofitable tourist sites or their transforma-
tion into typologically different venues (e.g. social care houses, private
apartments). The area is no longer capable of rivaling other more attractive
places for tourists. The services on offer are reduced, making the location
Figure 1. R.W. Butler’s tourist area life cycle
Source: developed on the basis of Butler [1980, pp. 5-12].
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 255
increasingly unattractive, which makes it draw less and less tourists. If the
area has a sufficiently large infrastructure, weekend or one-day tourists ap-
pear. The local population becomes involved, this time generating demand
by offering services that are accessible at a lower price. The decline phase
can conclude within the total or partial disappearance of the tourist func-
tion in a given area.
The area can, however, enter a phase of rejuvenation, though this is im-
possible without a conscious and complex program of activities to enhance
the attributes that decide on an area’s attractiveness. This can be achieved
through introducing artificial attractions (e.g. by turning buildings into
a network of casinos) or by using unexploited natural resources.
Among the works that tested R.W. Butler’s concept were those by S.
Lundtorp and S. Wanhill, who in 2001 estimated the logistic function as
a mathematical formula of the course of the phenomenon on the Bornholm
Island [Lundtrop, Wanhill, 2001, pp. 947-964]. While the logistic function is
a very fine model to explain the development of many economic phenomena,
its interpretation is not a simple affair. Nonetheless, S. Lundtorp and S.
Wanhill attempted to estimate the logistic function and describe its proper-
ties in terms of the phases described by R.W. Butler. The experiment aimed
to verify the accuracy of the estimated function of the described phenom-
enon based on a limited number of observations. Although S. Lundtorp and
S. Wanhill stress the high applicability of the development model using a lo-
gistic function, they simultaneously prove that it is not applicable before
the full formation of the first phases of the cycle. They confirm this thesis
in their next article of 2006 [Lundtrop, Wanhill, 2006, p. 146]. As such, we
have empirical proof that the logistic model can predict phenomena only
after the majority of the phases have been formed, and moreover, that it
provides no opportunity to foresee the final phase of the cycle (decline). It
therefore serves only to describe the phenomenon ex post.
Part of the achievement of S. Lundtorp and S. Wanhill was also to pro-
vide knowledge on the phase division of the cycle which surpassed the in-
flection point. Researching the properties of the function, and in particular
its characteristic points (calculating the zero points through the various
derivatives) they established that the natural division resulting from the
logistic function breaks down into five phases, of which the first occupies
the range marked out between 0% and 9% of the maximum value of the
function, and the following ones between 9% and 21%, between 21% and
79%, and between 79% and 91% of the maximum (100%). At the same time,
the accurate estimation of the logistic function permits the calculation of
both the inflection point and the maximum function, which in turn allows
the various phases of the model to be marked out.
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
Analyzing the curve in the development of the tourism traffic at the
Salt Mine in Wieliczka, we used the data collected by the site concerning
the number of people visiting the mine over annual periods. The result was
a time sequence describing the fluctuation over a period of 65 years (be-
tween 1945 and 2010).
We note that the curve in the development of the intensity of tourist
traffic in the mine has taken an extremely interesting course. This results
from the several changes in the area’s direction of development over a long
period. The changes that occurred have been described through a well-
matched (R2=0.94) fifth-degree polynomial function. The complexity of the
function alerts us to the high fluctuation of the number of visitors in the
site’s various stages of functioning.
Figure 2. Development of tourist traffic at the Salt Mine in Wieliczka
Source: Own calculations based on Salt Mine data in Wieliczka.
Historical events and an analysis of changes in the number of visitors to
the site allow us to isolate two cycles of development for this area. The first
is the period (herein called “A”) from the end of World War II (1945) to the
turn of the 1980s/90s, while the second period (B) covers the period of time
that began at the turn of the 1980s/90s.
The period of the first cycle can be described through the logistic func-
tion of A, while taking into account the observations of S. Ludtorp and S.
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 257
Wanhill concerning the division of functions describing the cycle. The logis-
tic function of A (ytA) is presented in formula 1 (in which t is the number of
the period, wherein 1945 is period 1).
Knowing, therefore, that the logistic function of A peaks at 762,628
tourists, we can analytically mark various phases of the R.W. Butler cycle.
Though it may not be complicated to mark out various phases, we ought to
firmly state outright that the division is no more than a hypothesis which
can be verified by assigning various phases to historical events from the pe-
riods involved, and most frequently to the break between the two periods.
Thus, the cycle was broken down in the period we are calling “A” in the
a) the exploration phase is the period from the start of tourism in the
mine to 1947 (the available sources do not mention heavy tourist activ-
ity prior to World War II – we might therefore suppose that it was in-
significant, and that the war caused it to vanish entirely; it is only with
the post-war tourist traffic statistics that increased numbers are noted,
i.e. after 1947).
b) the involvement phase is probably the period from 1947-1951/1953 (in-
creased interest in a tourist path for the mine is observable from 1947,
though some researchers note that equipment to ensure the secure
transport of tourists was not applied in this period, and some even claim
that the site was not prepared for particularly substantial numbers of
tourists [Rączkowska, 2003, pp. 81-102]);
c) the development phase occurred from 1951/1953-1967 (the development
phase was tied to state grants the mine received during this period;
the period of renovating the tourist transportation equipment caused
a temporary drop in the number of visitors, but shortly thereafter the
number of tourists began to sharply rise once more);
d) the consolidation phase occurred from 1967-1972 (the growth in the
number of the visitors to the site continued, but we ought to recall that
the fragmentary data on foreign tourists prove that they played a signif-
icantly greater role than in the previous phase (mainly from the USSR
and Czechoslovakia); in 1969 80,000 were noted, while the previous sta-
tistic, from 1955, registered 4,600 [Rączkowska, 2003, pp. 81-102];
e) the stagnation phase covers 1972-1978 (during this period growth in
numbers of visitors ceased, and the traffic fluctuated greatly in the
consecutive years; this may be as a result of attempts to increase the
1 + 20,71 . e–0,1786t
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
f) the decline phase occurred from 1978-1981/1991 (a period which saw
a definitive reduction in visitors, to around 300,000; obviously, the main
cause of this situation was the introduction of Martial Law and the so-
ciety’s difficult socio-economic position).
The above division is merely a hypothesis based on some historical facts
and a quantitative curve analysis of development. It is possible, however, to
pose various questions about how the situation would have differed had the
changes due to Martial Law not occurred. What if the social situation had
It would seem, however, that the tourist exhibitions and the state of the
tourist infrastructure at the time would have led to a further drop in num-
bers of tourists regardless, down to 300,000 visitors a year (though this level
would have been reached significantly later).
We ought to note that tourism was regenerated after 1982. At this point
the numbers of visitors rose sharply for the next four years, and in 1986
another significant drop in visitor numbers was noted, and was not to be
improved in the years immediately following. According to the historical
sources natural forces caused the degradation of the access roads to the
Salt Mine in Wieliczka in 1992 (i.e. uncontrolled water leakage). The mine’s
closure to visitors for a period of several months not only caused the annual
number of people visiting the route to drop (once more) to around 300,000
people; it also led to the introduction of changes to the tourist exhibition,
resulting in increased interest in the years that followed.
Analyzing the period of the mine’s operations after 1991, it would
seem that the interest in the exhibition grew with every consecutive year,
ultimately exceeding one million tourists annually in recent years. Ap-
plying prognostic methods of time analogies, we noted that the logistic
function of A estimated for the first period could describe the course of the
phenomena in the second period. Taking into account the new base of the
cycle equal to 300,000 tourists, the formula for the logistic function of B
is the following:
There is no way to establish the course the function will take in the
full B period – as S. Lundtorp and S. Wanhill have proven, it can be ful-
ly described only after the conclusion of the cycle. We can see, however,
a similarity in the dynamics of the growth of numbers of tourists. It would
also seem accurate to say that hypotheses of the capacity to continue the
present cycle (halted because of external events) should not be discarded
yB = 300,000 +
1 + 20.71 . e–0.1786 (t–36)
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 259
Such an explanation of the course of the development curve coincides
with the hypothesis S. Corak, which describes the case of the Croatian health
spa in Opatija, where the effect of the Butler cycle has been documented over
the course of the last century, or more accurately, three full cycles adding up
to one large cycle of development for the area [Corak, 2006, pp. 271-287].
Between these cycles there were periods of several years when the area was
entirely abandoned by tourists, or when there were very few. These were
the periods of World War I and II, and the period of the economic transfor-
mation of the 1990s. Opatija also shows a significant similarity in terms of
the continuing growth dynamic of visitors in the consecutive cycles.
A. Kapczyński and A. R. Szromek draw similar conclusions in terms of
the possible continuation of the cycle, noting a similar regularity with re-
gards to the development curve of Polish spa towns [Kapczyński, Szromek,
2008, pp. 1035-1037].
We ought to note, however, that it is extremely difficult to prove wheth-
er we should allow the defined course of the phenomenon to indicate the
continuation of the cycle to date, or whether we are dealing with a new
Figure 3. Two cycles of development for the Salt Mine in Wieliczka
Source: own calculations.
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
evolutionary cycle while the evolution process is still underway. Certain cir-
cumstances verifying the set hypotheses can, however, result from an analy-
sis of the impact of events that have disrupted the progress of the cycle.
Therefore – to return to the development of the tourist traffic in the
Salt Mine in Wieliczka – we should stress that the first of two key events
that took place in the period under analysis was an external factor, in that
the events were not strictly tied to the tourist object (route). Here we have
in mind the armed events connected with the Martial Law period and the
destabilization of the country in 1982.
The second event, on the other hand, was an internal one, and was di-
rectly linked with the tourist route, or rather with access to it. This was the
ecological catastrophe caused by the inflow of water in 1992, which caused
some of the deposits to be damaged, and cut off access to the route.
A signal that heralded the beginning of a new cycle was the quality
changes in the form of the product structure changes, and the consequent
changes in the type of visitors, their needs etc. If essential changes had not
been made to the product, it would have been more likely that the previous
phases of the development cycle to date would have been continued.
It seems imperative to accept the hypothesis that the cycle to date should
be continued in circumstances where external factors intervene, such as
military activities in the country of the tourist site.3 These often introduce
no changes to the product as such (here: the tourist route), they merely
restrict our capacity to safely participate in tourism. This is why when the
external factor ceases to act tourist traffic can return to the phase where it
was before the factor came to exist (particularly when the tourist area was
not in the factor’s immediate range of repercussion).
Other consequences may accompany internal factors (here: damage to
the path), as they often compel the form of the product to be changed (e.g.
through its expansion), which might mean the target group becomes differ-
ent from before, or other needs might be satisfied, thus attracting new visi-
tors, in addition to those who had previously used the product.
An observation of the time spread of the numbers of visitors to the tour-
ist route at the Salt Mine in Wieliczka does not presently allow us to verify
these hypotheses because of the complexity of the process, and also because
of the existence of both sorts of factors in a short time period. Nonethe-
less, the break in the trend in the years 1986-1988 and the probable conse-
quences of an attempt to increase interest are visible in 1990-1991, perhaps
3 This issue has been the subject of several articles, which have surveyed it both in terms
of the negative effects of armed conflicts on tourist traffic (e.g. limiting safety in travelling and
staying in the tourist area), and also in terms of the significant increase in the tourist traffic in
the military area after the armed conflict ceased. [Weaver, 2000, pp. 151-161].
USING R.W. BUTLER’S MODEL TO INTERPRET THE DEVELOPMENT... 261
suggesting a continuation of the previous cycle and the phase of decline,
which was to flower into a rejuvenation phase. Further observation of the
changes made was not, of course, feasible, owing to the events that damaged
some deposits. Paradoxically, this fact might have resulted in more radical
changes to the form of the product (the route), thus initiating a new cycle,
whose consecutive phases are currently being recorded.
It is presently impossible to identify the current phase of the site’s
development; for although contemporary researchers list many indicators
that characterize the various phases of the cycle of tourist area development
[e.g. Buhalis, 2000, pp. 97-116; Zajadacz, Śniadek, 2011, p. 1031; Szromek,
2010, p. 325], they allow us to define a phase only from the perspective of
the whole cycle. It seems, however, that the tourist paths in the Wieliczka
Salt Mine will require further undertakings to stimulate further tourism
development (such as exploiting the opportunities offered by mass events,
such as the EURO 2012 European Championships in soccer).
The Salt Mine in Wieliczka is doubtless one of the most attractive tour-
ist sites in Poland. It seems as though the economic and cultural virtues of
this site require no emphasis, nor even the formulation of arguments. A rich
history, educational and cultural virtues, and a special climate are only some
of the attributes that fill the description of the tourism significance of this
attraction. The fact that it draws around one million tourists a year stands
as further proof of the enormous significance the Salt Mine has in develop-
ing tourism in Poland.
The stormy history of the mine’s tourist route prove that achieving its
present socio-economic significance has been tied to many dramatic mo-
ments and difficult changes. A review of the events associated with the mine
and the course of the symptomatic curve of its tourism development make
us prone to reflect that, from the perspective of the history of the mine’s
tourism activities to date, the difficulties it has encountered were transi-
tional. It even seems that the occurrence of some twists of fate (e.g. water
leakage cutting off access to the tourist path) forced inevitable development
changes in the mine. They facilitated the continuation of tourism develop-
ment at the site.
Observations of the shape of the curve of the numbers of visitors to the
tourist path in the mine indicate the possibility of the curve stabilizing at
a level of one million visitors (though the present tourist capacity of the at-
traction is 1.3 million tourists). This is no more than a prognosis resulting
ZYGMUNT KRUCZEK, ADAM R. SZROMEK
from the course of the phenomena to date. The further development of the
tourist route of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka will depend on many factors.
Among these will surely be activities promoting the existing tourist routes,
as well as the impact of a creative approach to the shaping of the tourism
product of the mine. Examples of such undertakings are already visible,
such as the use of an exhibition of past set designs for popular films (includ-
Buhalis D. (2000), Marketing the Competitive Destination of the Future,
Tourism Management, 21: 97-116.
Butler R.W. (1980), The Concept of the Tourism Area Cycle Evolution: Impli-
cations for Management of Resources, The Canadian Geographers, 24/1,
Corak S. (2006), The modification of the tourism area life cycle model for
Re(inventing) a destination: the case of the Opatija Riviera, Croatia,
[in:] R.W. Butler (ed.), The tourism area life cycle. Vol.1. Applications
and modifications, Channel View Publications, Clevedon – Buffalo – To-
ronto, pp. 271-287.
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