Overtourism: Tackling The Curse of Too Many Tourists

Emma Nolan3 min read#EverydayLifeOutdoors

Continuously developing an understanding of the ECO issues most affecting our planet, the next step on our educational sustainability journey is to discuss one of the latest additions to the Oxford Dictionary.


'the perceived overcrowding of an area from an excess of tourists, resulting in conflict with locals'

Living in a world full of tourists who love to travel, explore and discover, did we ever stop to think about what impact our travels were having on the rest of the world?

Trevi Fountain

Crowded bridge

What Pushed Tourism Over The Edge?

Alongside the rise of Instagram and its many image based companions, the world of travel is now diluted with images of perfect beaches, picturesque trails and relaxing retreats not to be missed. In the tourist hotspots of Mallorca and Barcelona, they're even discussing the negative impact of the Unesco's listing of World Heritage Sites. The argument is that although it works to preserve historic places, it destroys authenticity of communities and turns culture into theme park style attractions.

Which Areas Are Most Affected?

One of the most famous places suffering from too many tourists is Venice. Blessed with just over 25 million visitors a year, the Venetian landscape is not only sinking underwater but its 60,000 strong local population is being washed away in a sea of boat tours and booze cruises.

Alongside Venice, an EU report last year stated that there were 105 worldwide destinations suffering from Overtourism.

Symptoms of Overtourism

 One of the main concerns of Overtourism is its alienation of local residents. This is due to rising rents, noise pollution and overcrowding on streets, in restraunts and in other local attractions. Alongside this there are also areas include that find their local shops to be displaced and heritage sites damaged due to an ever increasing amount of footfall.

Once the initial symptoms set in, the tourist experience itself is degraded by crowds and longer queues. Then inevitably the problems seep down through to the overloading of local infrastructure including transportation of sewage, then onto the actual destruction or pollution of habitat such as in the Thai Islands where they continue to lose their coral reefs.

tourist infographic

Crowded Bridge

Residents Setting Limits

Recently graffiti messages surfaced in places such as Mallorca and Barcelona reading, 'One Flight Every Minute Is Not Sustainable' and 'Tourists Go Home, Refugees Welcome'. And, as tensions continue to grow many nations to take action.

Dubrovnik, Amsterdam and Santorini have all decided to limit the number of cruise ship passengers allowed to disembark each day. Alongside this, places such as Barcelona and Madrid are limiting lettings on Airbnb, whilst Venice plans to charge a day trippers fee of €2.50 in off-peak seasons and up to €10 during peak seasons.


Will This Impact the Tourism Industry?

Tourism is actually one of the world's fastest growing industries and there looks to be no signs of slowing. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council the industry accounts for 10% of the world's GDP.

However, Amsterdam and Paris now look to encourage tourism but have them holidaying in less-visited areas to drive interest away from busy cities and heritage sites.

As the industry struggles to cope it seems we must now not only consider the tourists but the locals too if we are to create a more sustainable tourism industry.

How do you travel more sustainably? – LET US KNOW!

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Author avatar

Emma can normally be found walking her dog around Lancashire searching for cake. Determined to see as much of the world as possible, Emma enjoys travelling to new regions especially to ski, sunbathe and soak up the culture. From Lisbon and Barcelona, to Australia and New Zealand, as long as there is some sort of cake on offer, Emma will be happy.

When she's not travelling the world, Emma enjoys walks on the hills, looking after her chickens and trying to be the next Andy Murray on the tennis court.


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