“Overtourism” Sizzles This Summer

The rising buzz in tourism circles about overtourism is now spilling into the mainstream media, especially in Europe, which seems to have the largest numbers of unhappy, tourism-battered residents. This attention is long overdue, since the phenomenon has been building for decades. Even governments are reluctantly beginning to take notice.

Here are some of the latest sources of information.

One of the best is the 23-minute documentary Crowded Out: The Story of Overtourism, from Justin Francis and his team at UK-based Responsible Travel. Note the recurring question in the second half—”Who is in charge of managing tourism?”—and the recurring answer: “Nobody.” (Here at the Destination Stewardship Center, we will continue to stress the need to address this gap .)

Justin has also written possibly the best, concise explanation of overtourism pitched for the general public that I have seen.

Credit for promoting the term “overtourism” belongs in considerable part to the online travel-industry news service Skift, which has made a point of investigating the phenomenon. They offer their roundup of “5 solutions to overtourism,” of which numbers 4 and 5 go beyond mere mitigation to cope with long-term requirements in the face of relentless tourism growth.

What can overstressed destinations do to cope with millions of food-eating, beer-drinking, plastic-wrap-discarding, linen-using, toilet-flushing tourists? Megan Epler Wood presents environmental, business, and policy solutions in her new book, the scholarly Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet (Routledge).

Elsewhere, Freya Higgins-Desbiolles discusses the threat of overtourism in Australia, travel sites like Nat Geo suggest alternate destinations, and the South China Post suggests who is to blame: Everyone.

And what can travelers do to help? A new book with a new point of view is by Johan Idema, a Dutch consultant, not in travel, but in showcasing art: How to Be a Better Tourist (BIS Publishers), to be released in the United States next month. Many of his profusely illustrated tips offer ways for travelers to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Worth a look before your next trip.

Jonathan Tourtellot

About Jonathan Tourtellot

CEO & Portal Editor, DestinationCenter.org; Principal, Focus on Places LLC; former Geotourism Editor, National Geographic Traveler; founding Director, former NG Center for Sustainable Destinatio

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