Overtourism is something that I have been thinking long and hard about for the past year or so. Recently I travelled to London to attend the World Travel Market and this was a hot topic at the conference.
So, what is overtourism?
Cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice are the top 3 worst cities in Europe for overtourism. There are simply too many tourists and not enough infrastructure to house them and residents. The residents are slowly getting pushed out of the cities and are having to live elsewhere because the prices are rising, and house owners make more money out of letting their properties with companies like Airbnb and Booking.
When residents have to move out of areas they have been living for centuries this is incredibly threatening to the local culture. What will happen in 50 years? Will the culture be totally lost in these cities? These destinations will simply lose their spark.
These cities are at breaking point. They cannot handle a rise in tourism anymore. It’s not just cities but whole islands in Thailand and The Philippines are being shut down due to the damage of too many tourists.
What makes a destination affected by overtourism in the first place?
It’s a mixture of reasons really. One of the big ones is cheap airline tickets. You can get a flight from London to Barcelona for £9! So, of course, people are going to flock there by the dozens if a flight is that cheap.
Cruise ships have a huge part to play in overtourism and should be heavily restricted. For example, beautiful places like Kotor (Montenegro) and Saranda (Albania) I have witnessed first-hand thousands upon thousands of tourists piling into these small cities and completely overtaking them. The place becomes different and sort of unbearable. Waiters are forced to run from table to table to keep with the influx of customers, and by the end of the summer, waiters, tourist operators and everyone else are absolutely ruined and exhausted by the season.
Accommodation suppliers like Airbnb and Booking also have a part to play in this problem as more and more house owners would rather let out their properties for short-term stays than rent to locals for long periods of time because they get more money this way.
Travel publications and travel influencers/bloggers also have a big part in this. When Lonely Planet publishes their yearly guides on the best destinations to visit in 2019 it’s a huge influence on where people are going to travel to for the next year. As a travel blogger, I also have a responsibility because I influence people to travel. If I write an article on Barcelona and it goes viral, potentially a lot of people who have read that might go and book a flight to visit the city and then, this is contributing to the problem.
A new outlook on Anita Hendrieka
So, what can we do? After some thinking, I have decided to make a conscious effort to change how I run Anita Hendrieka. I will no longer be promoting places that have been affected by over tourism on my website.
My new tagline is ‘Discover the lesser known’
From now on I am going to be showing you just as beautiful if not more beautiful places that are a little off the radar! I have always had a big passion for discovering destinations that are a little less known about and could do with a boost in tourism. This is why I loved Albania so much because as of yet, it hasn’t been ruined by mass-tourism and it’s off the beaten path. And although I have been kind of promoting the lesser known unconsciously for a long time, now I am going to completely cut out talking about the overpopulated destinations and will be inspiring more people to do the same.
I challenge more travel bloggers to make the conscious effort and do their part to help the strain of overtourism.
What can you do as a travel lover for overtourism?
- Pick cities and regions that are not often talked about
- If you really want to visit a place like Barcelona, why not stay in a region nearby and make a day trip to the city rather than spend your whole time there.
- Visit in the off-season. Don’t go to these affected places during the peak time. Wait until the off-season.
- Start conversations with your friends and family about the effects of overtourism
- Challenge governments and councils to put restrictions on destinations before they get affected by overtourism.
I would love to know down below if you have heard about overtourism? Is this something that you know about or is this term completely new to you?
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