‘Overtourism’ isn’t a term you hear very often, but it appears as though it was a hot topic at the 25th World Travel Monitor Forum held in Pisa, Italy November 9-10, 2017. At the invitation of IPK International and supported by ITB Berlin, roughly 50 tourism experts met to discuss the latest trends and hot topics in the tourism industry. And it appears over-crowding and ‘overtourism’ was one of the hot topics.
It is a concept that, as travel enthusiasts, we may not actively think about a whole lot, but I am sure it is something that is often in the back of our minds. I know it is often in our minds as we travel.
Increasingly crowded destinations not only have an impact on travelers in terms of longer wait lines, lack of accommodations, and more expensive trips, but it has an impact on the destinations and local infrastructure as well. In fact, in the past year overtourism has led to an increasing number of protests by residents. We have outlined just a few of the articles written about the topic in the past year below.
- First Venice and Barcelona: now anti-tourism marches spread across Europe
- Why Barcelona locals really hate tourists
- Are tourists still welcome after protests?
According to a World Travel Monitor representative survey, in which 29,000 international travelers from 24 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas were surveyed, roughly 25 percent of all international tourists feel as though their travel destinations have been “over-crowded”. We have summarized some of the other key findings from this survey below.
- 9 percent, or roughly 100 million tourists, said this over-crowding has directly effected the quality of their trip.
- The group that reported the most issues with over-crowding, at 13 percent, was families with young children and young people under 34 years-old.
- In terms of origin, Asians reported experiencing issues with over-crowding most frequently, with 15 percent of those surveyed saying they have been directly effected by over-crowding on their trips. This was followed by 9 percent of North American travelers and 8 percent of European travelers saying they have been effected by over-crowding.
- In regards to activities, skiers and snowboarders reported the most issues with over-crowding, with 19 percent of those traveling to engage in winter activities reporting issues with over-crowding.
- According to the survey, the cities most effected are Guangzhou (24%), Shanghai (23%), Beijing (21%), Amsterdam and Istanbul (both at 19%), and Barcelona, Florence, and Venice (all at 18%).
At the World Traveler Forum there was plenty of discussion on how to address some of the issues with over-crowding, such as managing seasonal visitor flows, spreading out tourism benefits, and investing more in infrastructure.
And it was mentioned that Venice, Italy has already taken great strides to try and tackle the issues it is facing with over-crowding by banning cruise ships from docking directly at the waterfront, increasing tourism taxes, and fining tourists who break the local laws. It will be interesting to see how these efforts and others pay off in the coming years.
We have certainly seen first-hand the effect that over-crowding can have in our travels throughout Europe. Longer lines and a scarcity of accommodations is something that every traveler needs to factor into their travel planning these days.
We would like to know your thoughts. Have you had any bad experiences with over-crowding? What have those experiences been and where did you have issues? What would you like to see these destinations do to counteract the problems with overcrowding?