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Rannveig Ólafsdóttir and Hörður V. Haraldsson

At a time when international tourist arrivals hit a new record year on year, the result is increased conflicts and impacts worldwide. Tourism geography has thus never played a moreimportant role in bridging the gaps between qualitative and quantitative as well as human and physical sciences. Increased tourism pressure is likely to have adverse social and environmental effects in many destinations. It is essential that we understand the spatial dynamics of such effects and gain a holistic understanding of the causal relationship between the different impact factors if we are to succeed in sustaining tourism. The chapter focuses on spatial dynamics and causal relations in tourism destination development, with a particular emphasis on systems thinking as a tool to obtain a holistic understanding of the system drivers of change and their causal relationships. Systems thinking provides a vital insight into tourism as an economic development strategy, elucidating the system’s key driving forces and their complex interrelations.