First generation European mass tourist resorts, defined as those that developed in the north of the continent up to and including the first half of this century, have shown a variety of responses to impending decline within the post‐stagnation phase of their life‐cycle, much as predicted in the tourist area life‐cycle (TALC) model. There have been winners and losers, as some destinations have diversified their local economies and others have accepted gradual contraction, whereas a select few have maintained a competitive edge through product investment and reorientation to new markets.
For the second generation of European mass tourist resorts, those high density tourist areas that emerged in the Mediterranean in the 1960s, the evolutionary life‐cycle has, to date, been of a much shorter duration. The period from exploration to stagnation has lasted a mere 30 years, sometimes less. The nature of these resorts, whereby rapid development has created a tourism monoculture, means that the onset of decline has far more dramatic implications to local economies when compared with first generation resorts. Unfortunately, although strategic planning initiatives are now (belatedly) being practised, it is likely that rejuvenation will only be short‐lived due in most cases to the inherent structural weaknesses of these resorts. Their legacy is one of overdevelopment and environmental scarring, they rely too heavily on price as a marketing tool in an increasingly quality conscious market, and the powers of promotion and distribution remain largely in the hands of northern European mass consolidators (tour operators), with little commerical incentive for customer loyalty. This paper thus predicts a pessimistic post‐stagnation scenario for most second generation Mediterranean mass market resorts.