Overtourism occurs when the negative aspects outweigh the benefits.
Large numbers of tourists can upset the local residents, especially if income 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 accommodation. Furthermore, the noise disrupts normal life, and places of beauty are spoilt by high numbers of visitors.
But, don’t forget, overtourism doesn’t just affect the local population, the tourist also experiences the consequences of long queues, angry locals, strict restrictions and large crowds.
So why has this all occurred 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’s conditions created problems to hit a new high for Europe tourism.
Here are the ten conditions which have led to this epidemic.
According to Skift ‘the new luxury is defined by small brands with big stories’ and I couldn’t agree more! Skift’s megatrends of 2017 have touched on something amazing for responsible tourism. Stories are essential to selling responsible tourism and the industry is full to the brim of anecdotes just waiting to be told. Continue reading
So the UN has declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism for development. Tourism is responsible for 10% of the world’s GDP and has huge developmental potential for countries with limited exports but are rich in cultural and environmental experiences. 2015 saw 1.2 billion international travellers, it is time to take this growth seriously, ensuring it has positive rather than negative impacts.
The warning signs have been around for a very long time. Responsible Travel has been campaigning for its closure for years, Born Free and other NGO’s have been screaming out to people to stop going. There are even films on YouTube showing tigers being hit so what went wrong, why did it stay open for so long? Why are we all surprised that 40 dead cubs were found in the freezer when the National Geographic linked it to a black market trade? Continue reading
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 am still unsure whether holiday companies have grasped the idea that responsible tourism is essential if they are going to keep their heads above the water. Profitability is always the best way to convince holiday companies that responsible tourism is a sensible addition to their products. For example, it provides a competitive advantage and is making its way into holiday itineraries. However, responsible tourism isn’t essential for business but rather an additional cost or a bit of a pain (so much so that many pay other companies to increase their responsible tourism credentials through tokenistic schemes like carbon offsetting) and it is also a lot of extra work for little return. So how do we make responsible travel indispensable?
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.
The answer is, I hope so……
Recently Orphanage Volunteering took a beating (and rightly so) as volunteers unwittingly found themselves fueling child exploitation when they intended to do the complete opposite. But will this have an impact on the rest of the tourism volunteering industry, will it also have to step into the ring to defend itself?