In recent years, the phenomenon of “overtourism” has been observed.
In short, overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is a subjective term, of course, but it is defined in each destination by local residents, hosts, business owners and tourists. When rent prices push out local tenants to make way for holiday rentals, that is overtourism. When narrow roads become jammed with tourist vehicles, that is overtourism. When wildlife is scared away, when tourists cannot view landmarks because of the crowds, when fragile environments become degraded – these are all signs of overtourism, Responsible Travel writes.
The reason for its emergence is as much travel options as the combination of macroeconomic factors and changing business trends is driving more and more tourists to popular destinations. However, this leads to environmental damage, dangerous conditions, misery and expatriation of local residents because of the high prices.
Local residents complain that the tourists, and visitors are often disrespectful and vandalising natural and man-made miracles since they began to visit them. But tourism as we know it was much more organic.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the journey for personal pleasure was only a matter of wealthy noblemen and educated professionals – people for whom it was an expression of their social class and showed influence, power and money. In 1840 the mass tourism developed due to the rise of the middle class.
Here are some examples: In Barcelona there are 30 million visitors a year for a population of 1.6 million people. 20 million visitors to Venice for a population of 50,000. The main reason for this peak of tourism, however, is macroeconomic.
The middle class is already global and tens of millions of people have the means to travel. Here is one example: the number of Chinese citizens’ trips abroad has increased from 10.5 million in 2000 to around 156 million for the past year. International tourists around the world have grown from just over 70 million in 1960 to 1.4 billion now, which clearly shows that mass tourism is a completely new and quite large phenomenon.
Business trends also contribute to turning paradise places into a history. Cruise holidays are much more popular than they were before, diesel ships are pouring thousands of passengers at once into port cities. Low-cost airlines use small provincial airports and drastically reduce the cost of travel across Europe, America and Asia. They encourage passengers to make 1 billion flights a year with budget flights.
Platforms such as Airbnb increase the number of suitable rooms for rent in the cities. Yelp and TripAdvisor also make restaurants, museums and beaches more discoverable and easier to ruin. The word overtourism goes into mass use in 2017 with a wide coverage of the problems in Venice, Bali and elsewhere.
Of course, some fears of overtourism seem extremely exaggerated, and many of the local complaints are provoked by class or racial discrimination. On the other hand, however, it also has its positives in the face of greater knowledge of different cultures, more investments, more global ties, greater democratization of tourism, and perhaps more admiration for the wonders of the world.