post by : gaia.boeri
More people are travelling, and many are visiting the same places
The word “overtourism” entered recently the lexicon of the travel world to describe the consequences of having to many visitors in one place at the same time. Tourism is booming and the number of travellers is constantly increasing. According to the World Tourism Organisation, the number of international visitors making overnight stays, grew to 1.3 B in 2017, twice the number of the year 2000.
Problems are not caused by the increase of the number of tourists but, as Alex Dichter, partner of the consultancy Mckinsey, reports, with the fact that a lot of people want to visit the same places at the same time. Such overcrowding brings costs and problems, which have to be supported by local residents. For example, pavements, roads and cycle lanes are clogged. The level of pollution is increasing globally and ordinary services for citizens are slowly disappearing.
For this reason, governments and Local authorities are starting to react in order to develop strategies to cope with the problem.
The most extreme reaction, as already done by the president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, is to completely ban tourists from certain locations. Others, like in Venice, try to cap the number of visitors by limiting the number of cruises ships reaching the ports and other measures. Another approach as suggested by councillors in Edinburgh could be to introduce a tourist tax, to better reflect and distribute the costs that tourists impose on communities.
Nobody wants really less tourists. In fact, according to McKinsey “People in 99% of countries in the world are crying out for more tourists.” In addition, tourism directly accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s GDP, employs 5% of the world’s workforce and generates one in five new jobs. It also positively affects economy in poorer countries employing a huge amount of people and attracting foreign investors.
Overcrowding in some locations could be attributed to the rise of the “bucket lists”: Internet lists which direct tourists to the same Unique Selling Point places around the world like Venice and Amsterdam.
In the end, according to Thordi Gylfadottir, Iceland’s tourist minister, the answer to the problem is to send people less to overcrowded places and, instead “spread visitors out to undiscovered sites of the countries”.