Frequently Asked Questions
The World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) nicely describes the term: Overtourism occurs in ‘destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently’. Another and probably better term, is ‘overcrowded destinations’.
Overtourism is not solely caused by an increased number of tourists. With urbananization and increased tourism going hand in hand, the problem is not solely a tourism industry issue. In fact, the majority of residents in cities most affected by overtourism believe there should be no limitations to the growth of visitors. Local governments are more than often not able to mitigate the effects and, in some scenarios, even turn a blind eye to the problem. Meanwhile, “tourism can only be sustainable if developed and managed considering both visitors and local communities”, says UNTWO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Overtourism is a big problem because it creates negative environmental and social impacts. In terms of environmental impacts, overtourism contributes to an increase in water consumption, air pollution, litter and waste in tourism destinations.
We all know that tourist areas tend to be more expensive than in other places. While it's good for the business owners, this can negatively affect the locals. During the high tourist season, the prices of essential goods rise, making them less affordable for the locals.
Overtourism might be the latest tourism buzzword but the struggle is real. The world population is growing, and more people will visit popular tourist attractions. Although we cannot stop the rise of tourism, we as tourists can already decrease the impact we have on these destinations. The easiest thing we can do is to simply be aware of the impact that we have and behave accordingly. Try to familiarise yourself with local habits by researching how you are expected to behave. This will keep you out of trouble but will also minimize your impact.
The other thing we can do is to help with the dispersal of tourism both over time and geographically. Don’t only book your stay outside peak season, think about the location of your hotel and explore new things. Last but not least, actively promote alternatives. Make photos of the main hotspots that are crowded with the crowds in the picture. Show your friends the real experience and promote the alternative!