Overtourism occurs when the balance between the negatives of tourism outweighs the benefits.
Large numbers of tourists can upset the local residents, especially if the positives created by a tourism boom doesn’t trickle down but instead leaks out of the country. As destination popularity rises so can the cost of accommodations. Furthermore, the noise disrupts normal life, and places are trampled by high numbers of visitors.
But, don’t forget, overtourism doesn’t just infect the local population, the tourist also experiences the symptoms of long queues, angry locals, strict restrictions and large crowds.
So why has this occurred all in the summer of 2017? Well, the signs have been around for a while and in places as high as Everest and as far East as the great wall of China. But, this summer the conditions have been just about perfect for the overtourism problems to hit a new high in Europe.
Here are the ten conditions which have led to this epidemic.
Yesterday I woke up to a whole barrage of tweets, emails and news reports on Carnival Cruises new venture into Cuba. It was a huge hand to head moment, how could I have missed it! Of course, Fathom was merely a ploy to open the back door into Cuba. By taking advantage of the Cuban visa loop-hole, people-to-people holidays, Carnival Cruises has been able to enter the holy grail of American destinations.
As the doors have been ‘supposedly’ flung open and the Americans are welcomed with open arms tourists have been falling over themselves to get there before ‘its too late’! However, Americans still face the difficulty of finding the right key to enter, if they have it at all! Heavy sanctions still apply to American citizens and it can still be very complicated to acquire a visa as seen here. But, as Carnivals massive cruise ship sails through a tiny visa loophole mine and many others hearts will sink to the bottom of the ocean.
I think it’s fair to say that large ship cruises are currently one of the undisputed champions of irresponsible tourism. This made it even more surprising when Carnival Corporation announced last week that they are stepping down from the podiums top spot and entering the world of responsible tourism. I had to double check it wasn’t April 1st before I believed it. At first, I was pleased, perhaps they have finally given in to the long list of campaigns and criticisms to become more responsible! However, when a company that was voted 3rd in the top ten corporate criminals list just last year suddenly decides to become the next powerhouse for ‘sustained and long-lasting positive impact’, alarm bells started ringing and concerns start to bubble up.
However, I have previously suggested that perhaps it’s time to work with the irresponsible companies to improve their approaches to tourism rather than fighting them. Nobody can deny that if cruises were responsible they would be a huge force for good. Unfortunately, cruises will always be popular and will not disappear. Therefore, it should be music to my ears when I hear Carnival suggest they ‘harness the assets and resources of the world’s largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world’. In this blog, I have decided to delve into their press release with an open mind and give them a chance to see how they are stepping into responsible tourism.
Tourists are now searching for something a little different in their holidays and marketers have been cashing in on the demand. Words like ‘authentic’ are now being spread across many holiday itineraries like its tomato ketchup; itineraries cannot do without it but tourists are noticing things still taste as bland as ever. The general multinational holiday providers such as First Choice haven’t been able to keep up with the demand and tourists are beginning to look elsewhere. This change is opening up huge opportunities for smaller, more specialised travel companies such as the ones offered by Responsible Travel.
As tourists start to branch into new possibilities the larger, more general operators need to be reactive and anticipate the trends. It is still the case that Disney Land, Benidorm, cruises and the all inclusive holidays make up the largest chunk of tourism revenue. But amazingly, responsible tourism is forcing its way in and popping up in places you would least expect.