More and more people are visiting the same destinations. Many in the tourism industry see the problem, but few want restrictions.
More than 20 million people visited Bangkok last year. The metropolises of London and Paris are also among the top 3 most visited cities in the world, according to Mastercard’s “Global Destination Cities Index”. The relatively small Palma de Mallorca counted almost 8.8 million visitors and is thus ranked 16th.
The immense number of visitors leads to a state of emergency in many tourist centers with noticeable consequences. The places are literally overrun by visitors. In part, tourists displace the local population. Normal residential apartments are converted into apartments for short-term guests. The cities are increasingly losing their atmosphere when only a few locals live there.
City breakers are often only a few hours on the spot, rushing from one attraction to the next. The tourists arrive emotionally not at the destination. Instead of diving into the culture, many visitors only work on a travel bucket list. This also creates little acceptance among the residents. Finally, if too many visitors gather in one place and become a burden to the locals, then this is Overtourism.
At this year’s ITB travel fair, tourist overkill was the hot topic, as it was in 2018 . The industry sees the challenge and wants to find answers. But how does it work without damaging the important tourism industry while pursuing sustainable goals? Travel companies like Travelzoo try to analyze the ways of tourists. Board member Sharry Sun tells the story of Overtourism in an impressive number: “The 20 most visited destinations in the world are attracting as much interest as all other travel destinations.” The solution will not be easy to find. “It is not the goal to stop travelers, but to bring them to a wise and responsible travel.”
The head of the online giant TripAdvisor sees Overtourism as a problem that concerns only a few places and not too many people interested: “I think that Overtourism for the majority of holiday destinations is not a problem,” said CEO Stephen Kaufer n-tv. But, of course, the respective tour providers would have to take care of it in the respective cities. The topic is also just “hyped”.
How much responsibility do the shipping companies bear?
However, the pressure to act is growing and passenger shipping in particular is at the center of the debate. The president of the International Cruising Association Clia, Adam Goldstein, knows that tourists have to be redistributed: “People are hungry to discover the world, we are part of it and therefore have to take responsibility and work with cities and NGOs (…) It must not affect the quality of life of local people, “he says in an interview with n-tv. The participants see the problem, but weigh it down and repeatedly refer to other groups who are supposed to make suggestions. A satisfactory solution for the locals in the resorts is not.
For Goldstein also relativizes the influence of the ships. In his view, the big ships are clearly visible, so their influence on the problem of governments and the media is shown as exaggerated. But in the next few years, more and more ships are coming on the market. This year alone, there are 21 and they are transporting more and more passengers from port to port. The cruise association expects 2019 with 30 million cruise ship worldwide.
Governments fight back
For example, on the Balearic island of Majorca, the holiday-maker situation has been getting worse for years. Meanwhile, the government limits the licensing of apartments, so that less tourists stay on the coastal areas. Also against the housing broker Airbnb is the Mallorcan administration, to prohibit illegal lettings and to control the tourist flows better. Majorca is probably one of the few destinations that wish that significantly fewer people spend their holidays there. Parts of the island population are now no longer good to speak to the visitors. So it often came to major actions of Mallorcans , who revolted against the tourists.
Another example is Venice: The Italian city, which suffers particularly from the day trips of cruise tourists, now charges an entry fee of up to 10 euros. Officially it is said that it will be used to finance the maintenance of Venice. But one might also hope that this will allow a few people to visit St. Mark’s Square. At peak times, around 130,000 tourists a day stream the lagoon city.
Not to be underestimated is the attraction that film locations have on tourists. Maya Beach Bay in Thailand became world famous for the Hollywood movie “The Beach”. After the movie was released in the year 2000, it attracted crowds of vacationers who crowded into the turquoise and photogenic bay. But then the Thai government had to crackdown: too many people polluted the beach, since then it is indefinitely closed to tourists.