Tourist spots around the world are beginning to introduce measures to counter overtourism – the phenomenon whereby places are inundated by tourists, causing undesirable side effects. Bali is a textbook example of a destination plagued by overtourism. The island of 4.3 million people saw 6.3 million visitors in 2019, the year before the pandemic – up from just 2.2 million a decade before. The rise has put a strain on the island’s infrastructure and officials are currently looking to set a quota for tourists. Greece has started limiting Acropolis daily visitors to 20,000 while Venice plans to trial an entrance fee of 5 euros($5.35) for day trippers next year. Outsiders often vastly outnumber the residents of the city centre, overwhelming its narrow alleyways. Hawaii is in the process of passing a $50 annual ‘Hawaii Green Fee’ for tourists to visit state parks and beaches in order to help protect them for generations to come. Amsterdam’s restrictions are more specific. The city is asking young men and women from the UK who come to the city to binge at stag or hen parties to stay away!
Why is it important?
The tourism sector is an important component of the overall economy of some countries so it is important that the sector remains sustainable. Overtourism can lead to cost of living rises for locals and a decline in living standards as resources are directed to the tourism sector.
Popular destinations may not have the infrastructure to support large numbers of visitors, leading to overcrowding, traffic congestion, overdevelopment, and inadequate waste management systems. Crowded and dilapidated tourist destinations can result in poor travel experiences, leading to a decline in long-term appeal and sustainability. Overtourism can also put immense pressure on natural resources and ecosystems. Popular destinations may suffer from pollution, deforestation, habitat destruction, and water scarcity.
What can businesses do about it?
Sustainable tourism aims to balance the benefits of tourism with its negative impacts to ensure that destinations remain attractive and viable in the long term while preserving their cultural and environmental integrity. Businesses in the tourism industry would benefit by envisaging new forms of overtourism disincentives: offer special discounts for visiting during less crowded times of the year or week to distribute tourist traffic more evenly throughout the year. Encourage tourists to explore beyond the well-trodden paths, spreading the economic benefits to more locations. Perhaps, as a restaurateur you can limit the number of people you seat to avoid overcrowding so as to ensure your patrons enjoy a calm, serene dining experience.
While no enterprise wants to turn away business, there are reasons, as mentioned in the section above, why it is important to take a holistic, long-term view.
By Faeeza Khan
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