The effects of overtourism

Go Home Tourists – The Effects of Overtourism

As an Atlanta native, we often joke and create memes that say “We’re full” in hopes that people will stop moving to Atlanta. This is because traffic starts at any time of the day and can take hours to get less than 20 miles. I’ve never thought about how crowds and tourists affect other places. My first notice of this was in Naples, Italy where I saw an obscene sign that said “F*** tourists, refugees welcome.” Thankfully I saw this after dinner or else I might have stayed in my room. Since then I’ve noticed what is termed as overtourism it in various places while traveling.

Overtourism Definition:

Overtourism is not a word in the dictionary and is a somewhat new term to describe something that has been happening for a while. Overtourism can be a few things such as when a destination becomes too crowded over a short period of time and impacts the locals. Also, the rise in tourists can affect the physical and eco-system of a destination. Now let’s look at a few places I’ve visited that suffer from overtourism.

 

Overtourism Cities

Barcelona

Before my recent trip to Barcelona, I was aware that there was also a distaste for tourists in Barcelona. I noticed a few things on my arrival and flight. Most of the people on my flight were Spanish. The guy behind me kicked my chair and put his knees in my chair to prevent me from reclining. I asked him to stop and he did but made sure to pull on my chair and slam the tray every time he got up and as we deplaned he snarled and spoke in Spanish as we walked past.

Throughout the trip, I would notice most of the women were friendly and warn us about the dangers of the city and public transportation but the men were not friendly. We encountered an Uber driver who I believe purposely drove us around the city to run up a bill. He stared at us in the rearview mirror and initially tried to drop us off even though his GPS said he had 9 minutes or so to go. He tried a second time and insisted we were close to the destination and when we refused and showed him the address and directions he drove even further then finally he stopped and I just got out because he was continuing to drive, a 9 euro ride turned into over 20 euro.

Paris

I recently had a chance to visit Paris and the Louvre Museum, I went during what was supposedly a downtime but it was still crowded. As I tried to get photos someone would come right in the same area to get the same shot. A month later, I read that the museum workers went on strike because this popular attraction suffers from overtourism yet the workers aren’t being paid fair or as a result of the increase in sales.

Louvre Museum and overtourism


Thailand

I visited Phi Phi Islands a few years ago and later learned that a portion of the tour I took is now closed indefinitely because of overtourism. Maya Bay, which can be seen in the movie Beaches, closed in 2018 indefinitely. I visited in offseason on a cloudy day but since then the popular attraction grew year over year of half a million visitors.

overtourism cities

Iceland

Beyonce and Jay-Z made travel to Iceland popular when their photos and videos dropped for Jay-Z’s birthday trip. I often joked we booked our trip prior the pics. I posted a cell phone quality video on YouTube about Iceland and forgot about it. A year later I logged on with tons of comments and questions. Everyone was ready to flock to the Blue Lagoon. I often repost old content after I’ve updated the article it and I posted it on my Facebook page. It was met with another blogger telling me I should not be promoting travel to Iceland because it was crowded. I have read in the past that Iceland might impose a tourist cap but with the shut down of Wow air and the mediocre service of Icelandair. I’m not sure that’s necessary now.

What annoyed me about the comment is that one, no one should tell me how to post and what to write about. Two, why is it ok that certain bloggers feel they should go but we shouldn’t encourage people to travel there? I hear and read people joke that don’t tell anyone about this place so people don’t start going there. What are you blogging or vlogging about travel for, to just show but not encourage people to go?

Overtourism Solutions

As someone that lives in an overcrowded city, I can understand the term overtourism and how it affects the locals. However, where is the necessary balance? Is it implementing a cap? Since this interesting comment online, there are now reports that Iceland no longer suffers as much from over-tourism and hundreds were laid off from the airport in Reykjavik. It’s a catch 22 to complain about overtourism, if overtourism creates opportunity and sources of income for locals. It’s a fine line because now more people have the access to means to travel, companies are constantly posting deals and some are just coming of age to travel as an adult. We can say that we can promote places that are less popular to travel to but with social media, that place will become the next trend.

When I talk to travelers, that don’t publish travel content, it’s a mixed bag of responses. Some have not heard of it, some think it only has to do with crowds/peak season and some don’t consider it. I am aware of places that suffer from overtourism but I don’t have all the answers to a solution.

People are in different areas of the spectrum when it comes to responsible travel, I think because of background and travel history. I took my first international trip in 2012 (mid-twenties) when I received my passport and it was because of a destination wedding. I traveled a lot around the states but for whatever reason never thought of going out of the country.

None of my friends suggested international trips. We were too busy going Essence Festival or Miami in the Summer. My family doesn’t travel internationally, with the exception of my mom who took her first cruise to Mexico in 2014 and the first trip requiring a passport in 2018. In fact, I’ve talked about how one family member says I shouldn’t travel due to Americans could be a target in other countries. I was probably the second or third person to get a passport in my family. I say all that because it is a tough decision to decide to not visit a place when it feels I’ve just got started. Squeezing in several countries while working a full time job in the U.S. is not easy. We all have different views on travel due to our background and experiences.

As crowded as Atlanta is, hotels and apartments keep appearing on every corner as people flock here after a few visits. I wonder at what point will there no longer be any more room? Poor people are being pushed out of areas in Atlanta (gentrification). Companies are only concerned with one thing, making money (C.R.E.A.M) by building more things to attract visitors to unbelievable flight deals to attract more sales. For now, I will continue to travel and post tips. I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to travel to a country that suffers from overtourism. You should always be aware of what is going on in a country before visiting.

What are some other destinations that suffer from overtourism? What do you think is a good solution? Comment below!

 

Check out a podcast with Holldayz Travel where we chat in more detail about Overtourism

 

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A look at the effects and catch 22 of overtourism. #workhardtravelwell

A look at the effects and catch 22 of overtourism. #workhardtravelwell

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Go Home Tourists - The Effects of Overtourism

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