Overtourism – The Industry’s solutions

The holiday season in Europe is about to kick off. This is good news for some but perhaps creating more upset for locals who have been protesting about tourism numbers. Tourism overload is likely to be 2018’s biggest problem and one that has no definitive solution.

Last year, I  investigated the causes of overtourism as it approached its pinnacle. This year, governing bodies had time to react and create solutions. I wonder which one of the following 7 implemented solutions to the overtourism problem will be the most successful… If any.1. Complete destination closure: Thailand closed Koh Tachai due to ‘overcrowding and the degradation of natural resources and the environment‘.  Paradoxically, Thailand will also close the famous Maya Bay featured in ‘The Beach’, a destination that gave the country a huge popularity boost. The Philippines has also decided to close Boracay; an island named a cesspool by its president President Rodrigo Duterte due to limited infrastructure and the raw sewage pumped directly into the sea.

2. Time restrictions: The Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu are some of the worlds most famous destinations so it’s no surprise that they have suffered. This year they introduced a cap of 3 hours placed on each visitor to the Taj Mahal and timed slots have been created for Machu Pichu.

3. Segregation of tourists from the local population: Venice, arguably in a move towards ‘disneyfication’, has trialled tourist/local segregation on two of the main routes into the city centre using metal turnstiles. This is an attempt to decongest the city by re-routing tourists from key areas of the city.

4. Taxing tourists: Bhutan has used a form of taxation on tourists through their visa system. Charging up to $250 (US) a day prevents large numbers of tourists entering the country while keeping income flowing. But, taxes haven’t been used to lower the numbers of tourists, rather a way to ease its impact as seen in New Zealand, Majorca and Ibiza to protect the country’s environment.

5. Reducing accommodation: To try and stem the growth of tourism in key areas, Barcelona has banned the building of new hotels in the city centre and placed restrictions in other areas. Although, many argue that it is actually illegal AirBnB rooms that are causing the real problem which in turn, pushes rents up and drives locals out.

6. Travelling more responsibly: Responsible tourism is becoming fashionable and could be a real solution. Iceland has created a video and pledge on becoming more responsible. However, research suggests travellers expect the industry to take responsibility for sustainability.

7. Creating alternative routes and destinations: Tourists need be encouraged to visit lesser-known destinations for their benefit as much as the hosts. The Inca Trail only issues 200 permits for tourists every day. Alternative Inca Trail routes have become available including the Lares Trek, but perhaps this is just pushing the problem further afield? Potentially, future technology could be used to mine social data to find suitable new and interesting destinations.

Have I missed one? Please let me know in the comments.

Follow me on twitter – @conservetourism

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