The objective of this report is to analyze and present information about an issue of concern in the global tourism industry. The paper begins by introducing the concept of tourism, its essence, and the impact it has on societies across the world. There is a lack of sustainable tourism-oriented policies and practices. As a result, issues such as overtourism have emerged, which refers to undesirable outcomes that arise due to the presence of too many tourists at a given period. The overcrowding results in poor quality of life in the area and rapid deterioration of visitors’ experience. Their presence in various destinations has affected the quality of life for the host populations. Thus, there is an urgent need to address the problem to prevent hostility against travelers. The report relies on previous literature provided by various scholars. Based on the existing research, the paper further suggests possible strategies for solving the problem and facilitating sustainable planning and development in the tourism sector.
Tourism refers to activities that involve passing leisure time in new environments. People travel away from their homes for reasons such as having fun, or in pursuit of a calm atmosphere that offers recreation. The tourism industry caters to the needs of tourists who travel for both business and pleasure reasons (Camilleri, 2018, 2). Individuals chose travel locations based on the appeal of each unique destination. The beauty of a given area attracts tourists depending on the leisure activities that they can do while on vacation. These include sightseeing, camping, trekking, kayaking, and birdwatching. Given the number of people who tour different places across the world, the tourism industry plays an integral role in the economies of some regions, making local businesses to thrive well. Besides, through the provision of quality accommodation and entertainment, tourists get a chance to enjoy a new, refreshing experience.
Although tourism contributes to economic development, it has negatively impacted societies. The sector has led to the protection and conservation of valuable natural landscapes as well as the promotion of cultures and traditional practices. However, due to the immense value and positive impacts associated with tourism, the number of people touring different places has increased significantly. In 2012, more than one billion tourists were crisscrossing the globe for fun, leisure, and recreation (Cheer & Lew, 2017, 10). Concerns about overtourism have increased due to the high number of tourists. For instance, there is concern about a breach in the carrying capacity of natural settings as a result of overcrowding. Other issues include an increase in carbon emissions and the commodification of culture (Cheer & Lew, 2017, 11). Overtourism has adverse impacts on the quality of life of locals as well as on guests’ experience, a situation that necessitates the need for planned and sustainable policies.
Information for this report is from a variety of secondary sources. The material forms the basis of an empirical review conducted to examine the relevance of literature on the topic. The report presents findings from the analysis of a variety of ideas deduced by previous researchers. The evaluation focuses on areas of relevance to the problem of overtourism across various regions. The reference list section provides all the literature used to prepare the paper. This report attempts a comprehensive review of the available text on the concept of overtourism. Besides, it aims to understand the problem and suggest appropriate strategies for avoiding it. Therefore, it provides a broad overview of the topic.
A review of the literature reveals that the term overtourism surfaced around 2012 on social media platforms. Local citizens of various tourist destinations began expressing feelings that too many visitors had affected the quality of life. While it started as an emerging concept, overtourism has become a regular issue of concern across various tourist destinations. The problem has garnered international attention given the deliberations on the issue in the 2017 World Travel Market in UNWTO’s Ministers’ Summit (Goodwin, 2017, 1). It signified the extent of the effects that too much tourism has caused among communities. The essence of events such as the summit is to facilitate discussions that will lead to the development of a sustainable tourism sector that does not interfere with the quality of life of local communities.
There is a rapid expansion of global tourism beyond established destinations. These regions have experienced changes such as an increase in the number of people as well as development of tourism-oriented businesses such as bars, souvenir shops, clubs, and resorts (Milano, Cheer, & Novelli, 2018, 2). The rapid rate of growth of such enterprises threatens the local businesses that thrived before tourism changed the atmosphere. Besides, the effects of overtourism go beyond the impact on the economy as it affects society and environment. Issues such as overcrowding, wear and tear, pilfering, graffiti, as well as traffic congestions are a result of a high number of people visiting some tourist locations (Goodwin, 2017, 3). Concern for managing the adverse effects of overtourism has led to a discourse on possible ways of mitigating the side effects while upholding the authenticity of visitors’ experiences.
Global tourism has received intense criticism as it has led to unanticipated side effects in some regions. Some of the adverse outcomes associated with a high number of people traveling the world include increased pollution. The constant movement of tourists through air, land, and water modes of transport has led to a rise in carbon emissions (Cheer & Lew, 2017, 11). Other notable effects identified include exploitation and displacement of local communities and inflationary impact due to the presence of tourists in these regions, as well as unplanned or inappropriate development of tourism-centered businesses that interfere with the cultural and environmental settings of less developed and peripheral tourist locations (Cheer & Lew, 2017, 11). Therefore, given the extent of the impact of tourism on ecosystems and communities, it is essential to establish sustainable discourses to avoid further damages.
Overtourism refers to an excessive increase in the number of visitors in a given place. It describes destinations where hosts or guests feel that the number of guests is too many throughout the period (Goodwin, 2017, 1). The presence of several guests contributes to changes that affect the people’s way of life, access to essential amenities, and the general welfare of society. Due to the focus on growth, the tourism industry continues to expand rapidly. Thus, it has given minimal attention to the impact that it has on society. As a result, both guests and locals are witnessing a significant decline in the quality of experience and environment around these areas. The changes reflect a lack of balance and sustainability-oriented plans in the utilization of features and unique resources that attract tourists.
Similar to other industries, the tourism sector continues to expand. The World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, estimates that by 2030, the record of international tourist arrivals will hit 1.8 billion people (figure 1). International tourist arrivals will increase remarkably by the year 2030 (UNWTO, 2017). Meanwhile, host populations have to contend with the pressure of managing changes in tourist demands according to the shifts and seasonality of the sector. While the burden is more prominent in specifically preferred destinations where tourist traffic is high, communities across the world are experiencing the epidemic. Although the concept of overtourism may seem like a relatively new issue, the problem has affected several travel destinations for some time. The increased concern is due to a lack of capacity of residents to tolerate the adverse impacts while meeting the needs of the visitors. Thus, coping with high tourists is a challenge for the host regions.
Figure 1. The UNWTO forecasts of international tourism by 2030. By 2030, the arrivals will hit 1.8 billion.
Source. UNWTO. (2017). UNWTO tourism highlights, 2017 editions. Retrieved from https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/978928441902
Sections of the host populations have expressed their opinions about the problem. In response to the increasing effects of overtourism, some people have held protests seeking to draw attention to the issue. They have organized and conducted demonstrations timed to coincide with the beginning of tourist seasons. For instance, some cities in Europe experienced unrest during the start of the summer holidays. A good example is the city of Barcelona which has a resident population of 1,625,137. During peak tourist seasons in 2017, Barcelona hosted 30 million overnight visitors (Milano et al., 2018, 1). Sagrada Familia, is one the sites that attract hundreds of thousands of guests in the area. The large number of visitors has impacted the locals’ way of life. By protesting against overtourism, the residents are emphasizing the need to address a global issue that has plagued various tourist locations. Besides, concern about the crisis has led to formation of groups like the Assembly of Neighborhoods for Sustainable Tourism (ABTS) (Milano et al., 2018, 1). Thus, the fight for overtourism has attracted the interests of various parties in society.
Figure 2. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia that attracts large numbers of tourists in the area.
Source: Milano, C., Cheer, J. M., & Novelli, M. (2018, July 18). Overtourism: A growing global problem. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/overtourism-a-growing-global-problem-100029
Demonstrations against the high numbers of tourists continue across southern Europe. An example of a region that has expressed concerns due to over exceeding of its carrying capacity by the tourist population is Venice. Carrying capacity refers to the measure beyond which an area cannot withstand or accommodate the adverse effects of an increase in tourist population. Venice has a resident population of 55,000 people; however, it receives 20 million visitors annually (Coldwell, 2017, 1). The ratio of guests and hosts is too high to the extent it has provoked the locals. Challenging the lack of sustainable tourism planning in the region, 2000 citizens demonstrated through Venice city. The march, characterized by messages asking tourists to go home, drew attention to problems faced by the locals. They expressed their anger and frustration due to issues such as high rent rates and the threat posed by cruise ships to the environment (Coldwell, 2017, 1). Figure 3 shows locals protesting against a large cruise ship entering the Italian port. Thus, the demonstrators sought to address the overcrowding and high cost of living in the city caused by mass tourism.
Figure 3. The picture shows Venice locals protesting against overtourism at cruise ship arrivals.
The UNWTO acknowledges the reality of the challenge posed by tourism to the welfare of local societies. The rise in negative feelings towards tourism is a cause for concern. The severity of the marches organized by protesters in Venice elicited a response from the UNWTO secretary general. He argued that tourism offers an opportunity for essential activities such as the conservation and preservation of natural elements and community. Therefore, people should not quit on creating an atmosphere that supports the tourism sector due to management shortcomings (Coldwell, 2017, 2). The secretary-general admitted that there is a need to formulate and implement exceptional sustainable policies that will guide the tourism industry toward better practices. Thus, the leadership of Venice has started making attempts to minimize the impact of the problem by establishing a ban on new tourist accommodation in the city (Coldwell, 2017, 2). Given the socio-economic carrying capacity of the region, leaders are supposed to ensure strict adherence to the established tourism laws to counter the adverse effects of uncontrolled movement of guests in the area.
There is a need to embrace policies that facilitate sustainable tourism practices. Achieving sustainability and responsible tourism requires the current human population to utilize resources in a way or rate that does not tamper with the integrity of earth’s natural resources (Mathew & Sreejesh, 2017, 1). It is essential for human beings to acknowledge that the ecosystem is under threat due to high pollution levels. Therefore, people should work towards considerate resource exploitation to ensure longevity and capacity to meet the needs of the present and future generations. Fostering sustainable development in the sector is crucial to shielding the environment and local populations against threats posed by global growth in tourism. Hence, it is vital for leaders, community members, and legislators to consider the present and future effects of overtourism on the economy, society, and the environment. Since the sector is also a critical contributor to economic growth and development, adopted policies should account for the needs of the guests and host communities.
Governments should impose various restrictions to reduce overcrowding. Some destinations draw a lot of traffic compared to others. One of the measures that the government can implement is formulating legislation that prohibits the provision of short-term rental services in specific regions (Milano et al., 2018, 3). Federal administration should work with private developers to draft an agreement that bans projects seeking to accommodate guests for a short period. An excellent example of an entity that they can work with is the Airbnb Company. By offering subletting facilities, the setup allows visitors to stay for extended periods since they have access to decent housing (Zervas, Proserpio, & Byers, 2017, 1). With fewer short-term units available, their prices will increase, thus reducing the possibility of prolonged stays. Although the approach may affect investment patterns, the government can offer incentives to sway developers away from setting up rental structures.
Restricting the movement of tourists is an applicable measure that can reduce overcrowding of people in one place. There is a need for the proper and organized management of the flow of people. The purpose of controlling how guests move through towns that have attractive features is to protect and preserve the ambiance of exceptional destinations. Regulated movement can also contribute to a decline in challenges associated with waste management in urban settings. States need to adopt comprehensive redistribution strategies as executed in Copenhagen. The area implemented an aggressive redistribution strategy that ensures the spread of tourists across diverse destinations in the city (Goodwin, 2017, 4). The goal is to minimize an occasion where a large section of the guest population is in gathered in one part of the city. Thus, through planned movement guidelines, authorities and businesses can control the flow of guests into and out of busy areas.
Governments and local authorities can help mitigate overtourism. Apart from controlling the number of people moving through towns or visiting specific locations, they should strive to exercise greater control over tourism-related practices. For instance, legislators can deliberate on the urgency of adjusting prices charged to gain access to some sites. Alternatively, the government can exercise its authority by regulating the number of attractions that have licenses to accommodate and entertain guests. The goal of these measures is to establish a control mechanism that allows entry of specified numbers that do not put a strain on the environment. Limited figures can reduce the impact associated with high populations in one area. Alternatively, the government can regulate total numbers of visitors by banning the use of cruise ships that exceed a specified capacity or size. Enactment of such measures can promote sustainable tourism.
States should encourage de-marketing as a way of regulating overtourism. The approach involves the intentional modification of the market forces with the aim of influencing consumer behavior. De-marketing can occur by improving the value of goods and quality of experience provided to customers. Tourist destinations can achieve this by tuning marketing strategies to attract fewer numbers of high-spending clients. The primary objective of using such a tactic is to increase the number of low impact clients (Milano et al., 2018, 4). By providing middle to high-end services, the tourism sector can reduce the vast amounts of large groups that visit primary locations. Large groups often have a more significant impact on their environments compared to small ones. With a sudden decline in the number of people traveling to a place, there is a likelihood that economies that relied on the high number of visitors will experience various repercussions. Thus, it is essential to de-market top priority areas progressively to cushion against a sudden collapse of local businesses.
Guests and authorities ought to recognize that most of the tourist destinations are home to communities. The constant flow of visitors to a particular region creates the impression that it is a tourist resort. It leads to ignoring the needs of the people that live in these areas. With the endless coming and going of guests, people assume that it is just a place to visit. Therefore, initiatives undertaken in these regions seek to improve the experience of those attending instead of those who live there. With such a perception, it is challenging to prioritize the need to conserve the immediate surroundings for posterity purposes. There is a need for communities and governments to work toward making destinations better places to live. Thus, enhancing the quality of life in these areas will consequently make the sites more appealing for visits.
Overall, the tourism sector is an essential industry that contributes to a nation or a region’s economic development and growth. Tourism is an exciting activity as it entails traveling for leisure and recreation. The rate of tourism has increased over the years due to various factors. As a result, a lot of people are moving from one location to another, causing issues such as overtourism. The concept refers to the presence of too many tourists in a place, which leads to reduced quality of life. A factor such as the availability of short-term rental units has made it convenient for visitors to stay in specific destinations for a long time. However, this has led to a high rate of overcrowding and overexploitation of resources in host regions. They make up some of the adverse impacts associated with high tourist populations. Other concerns include increased waste management problems and the overwhelming of local businesses by tourist-oriented enterprises. Implementing measures such as controlling the flow of tourists across destinations can address the issue. Given the magnitude of the effects caused by overtourism, there is a need for the enactment of sustainable tourism policies.
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