According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), overtourism is defined as “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitor experiences in a negative way”. In other words…Overtourism is too many people in the same place at the same time causing discomfort for visitors and locals alike.
Overtourism has only recently become a very real crisis as our world has become so well-traveled and a little smaller than ever before, due in part to global tourism hitting record highs – 1.4 billion tourist arrivals in 2018, up 6% from 2017 – and with so many popular destinations being besieged by travelers. Overtourism is fast becoming one of the most hotly debated issues in the modern age of travel.
It wasn’t that long ago, a traveler could saunter up to an attraction on the spur-of-the-moment and expect to gain admittance after waiting in line for a reasonable amount of time. Now several popular sites around the world have instituted mandatory pre-booking polices, sometimes months in advance, with absolutely no walk-up tickets even available. This has certainly taken the spontaneity out of some aspects of travel.
Sure, it may be easy to place the blame on Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or FaceBook) for perpetuating the need for that perfect “selfie” at some secluded location. We could also fault the cruise industry for contributing to the excessive crowds at popular destinations such as Venice or Amsterdam, or the airlines for offering cheap flights around the world. Or we could hold the tourist boards or travel advisors accountable for promoting such beautiful images of Bali, Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu that no one can resist taking a trip there.
Heck, we could even accuse the film industry for their stunning scenes in the popular ‘Game of Thrones’ series introducing the world to the picturesque destinations of Croatia and Iceland, to name a few, that now has everyone flocking to. Not even Mount Everest is immune to overtourism with its long lines of climbers attempting to reach the summit at the same time causing traffic jams, which unfortunately has resulted in multiple climbers’ untimely deaths.
So just who is responsible for Overtourism? News flash…We all are!
Anyone who promotes, sells, or travels the world shares jointly in the responsibility of finding a solution to help solve the negative effects of overtourism. The good news is that some of the world’s most famous tourist hotspots are already taking steps to begin combating this issue. The time is right for the travel industry as a whole to come together with one shared goal in mind, to educate the traveling public of the impact (positive or negative) their tourist dollars play in the role of tourism for the sake of our planet and for future generations to come.
“We have a finite environment—the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.” – Sir David Attenborough
Kelly Miller – Blogger at Travel Placement Service