ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Overtourism: Too Much of A Good Thing Hurts Travel
Wednesday, 13th March 2019
Source : Jabeen Bhatti - Exclusive at ITB Berlin

In tourism, there is a problem with too much success and in fact, while tourism has long played a deep and beneficial role in the economic development of many countries, overtourism is now becoming such a troubling development that that even the UN is taking on the topic.

But what is it really? A feeling of alienation in one's own city? Too few facilities for too much demand? Environmental degradation? Historical heritage destruction? The reduction in demand for some destinations?

It depends, said panelists at a discussion on the topic at ITB this week.

On a local level, residents of so-called overtouristed cities sometimes face a lack of usual services such as hardware shops or local family restaurants because landlords find it much more lucrative to rent to establishments catering to tourists. Or residents face skyrocketing rents for scarce apartments because these are bought up to rent out for short-term only, at far higher prices than local rates.

Then there is the atmosphere: “It gives the people living in the city the feeling of living in a museum,” said Albert Postma, professor of scenario planning at European Tourism Futures Institute at Stenden university in the Netherlands.

On the other side, one problem is unhappy tourists, said Sunita Rajan, senior vice president of Advertising Sales at CNN.

"The image that has been created in a number of city destinations, such as Venice, Barcelona, and others is that tourists are no longer wanted," said Rajan. "Overtourism has become a very dangerous buzzword.”

IPK International's most recent World Travel Monitor reported that travelers are feeling more and more impaired by the onslaught of tourists in some top cities, and that one in ten travelers was negatively affected by overtourism, a jump of 30 percent over the last 12 months. Cities strongly affected by overtourism were Beijing, Mexico City, Venice and Amsterdam, Istanbul and Florence.

In particular, travelers from Asia and the young felt a lot more affected by overtourism compared to Europeans.

Panelists argued that that there was no one simple solution to solving the issues, and several solutions – such as the tourist entry fees in Venice – are only a temporary measure and not always positive for the locals.

They recommended that multiple stakeholders, residents and entities should proactively work together in discussing proper ways to encourage a more sustainable form of tourism for their cities.

“There’s no one size fits all solution,” said Romana Vlasic, Director of the Tourist Board and Convention Bureau of Dubrovnik, a city that has long grappled with overtourism. “Every destination and city must discover its own answers to develop something better for the destination.”

Sharry Sun, global head of brand of Travelzoo, agreed. "We need to sit down together with industry leaders and professionals from other fields and talk about how to turn around the imbalance and restore order for the community."

Photo: Eros Banaj

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted. Jabeen Bhatti is reporting exclusively for 4Hoteliers.com at ITB Berlin 2019 - www.4Hoteliers.com/itb.

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