September 25, 2019
What does overtourism actually mean? According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) overtourism is “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitor experiences in a negative way.”
Destinations need more visitors, hotels need to fill their beds. It is a fact that more tourists can boost the economy. More jobs are created for local people: restaurants and cafés that serve local dishes, tourist guides and agencies. This helps not only secure income, but also give locals more cultural life in their destination.
On the other hand, as tourists we love unique places, which are hidden gems. We don´t want to wait in a queue when climbing up Mount Everest. We don´t want to see up to seven cruise ships entering the harbour of Dubrovnik every day with 10,000 people pushing themselves through narrow streets. None of the locals want to have an adhesion contract as some foreign cruise shipping companies or tour operators do.
Everybody can understand that this is neither nice for the locals, nor for the tourists, nor for the environment.
So what is the solution? Tourism boards and destination representatives are always walking on the edge. On the one hand it is their job to increase business and visitor numbers. On the other hand, we all have the negative image of overtourism in our mind.
Some coastal destinations are limiting the number of cruise ships entering the harbour and the people entering. Some others charge entrance fees or limit their visas to a certain number per month or year.
There is no perfect solution, but if a destination wants to have growth in tourism, it needs to be prepared and also be aware of investing in better infrastructure, supporting locals to contract with overseas tourism companies and take care that the environment is not suffering.
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