Overtourism: Causes, Consequences and Solutions - Ecobnb (2023)

Overtourism: one of the words that people use most in recent years.In effect, more and more often, tourist destinations suffer from overtourism, tourism overcrowding.Places that everyone wants to see because they are “famous”. Movie scenes shot in locations (such as Lake Braies) that now attract hordes of tourists looking for a short trip. Simply, they stop the time for a selfie and then leave for the next famous stage.This type of mass tourism causes pollution, the devastation of nature and distress of local populations.Let’s see in detail what is overtourism, what are its causes, what are the consequences, and what can be done to avoid it.

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Overcrowded beach, photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

What is overtourism?

Overtourism is a neologism that indicates the overcrowding of tourists on a holiday destination.The term was first inserted in the Oxford dictionary in 2018 and nominated as the year’s word.Overtourism, literally “too much tourism”, is a complex phenomenon that we should analyze from various points of view.In essence, we could sum up the concept in one question. Is this place affected by the presence of more tourists than the place and the inhabitants can support?

When it comes to natural tourist destinations, tourism must respect flora, fauna, and microclimate.When the destination is a city, tourism must primarily respect residents, as well as local culture and archaeological sites. The latter in particular are small microcosms blocked in time that tourism should protect.If this doesn’t happen, we talk about overtourism, or unsustainable tourism for the place, for nature, for the people who live there.

Overtourism: Causes, Consequences and Solutions - Ecobnb (2)

The crowd in Time Square, photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

(Video) How mass tourism is destroying cities

The Causes of overtourism

More than 1.4 billion people are moving around the world every year, and they are growing at an exponential rate. The World Tourism Organisation predicts that by 2030 the international flow of tourists will exceed 2 billion. This very high number of people focus on a few tourist destinations in the world, which suffer from the excessive presence of tourists. The causes of too much tourism are many. From the famous films that make tourist destinations famous to the ease with which you can reach any corner of the world. Also, we can name the cruises that bring large quantities around the seas. We talked about cruises and their environmental impact in this article.

Cultural tourism, a new trend

A trend of the moment is tourism influenced by mass culture. According to this kind of tourism, people chose the destination based on social media, influencers, television programs and films. Tourism influenced by film and TV series products, also known as film tourism, has in some cases led to real disasters. An example is what is happening in the Pacific Islands: in Thailand at Maya Bay, where the film “The Beach” was shot with Leonardo Di Caprio. Over the years, tourists who wanted to see the film set invaded the small beach. This forced the Thai government to prohibit the entry of tourists to restore the delicate balance of the beautiful bay.

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Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

The increase in low-cost air flights and cruises is certainly one of the causes of Overtourism.

(Video) Overtourism Solutions

The numbers published by the World Tourism Organisation (Unwto) speak for themselves. Even in Italy, we have examples of how mass tourism damages the nature and residents of cities invaded by travelers. Venice, for example, is visited by about 20 million people a year. A number a little too high for such a delicate city, devastated also by cruise ships causing pollution.

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Photo by Lucie Hošová on Unsplash

Even Florence, Capri and the Cinque Terre National Park in Liguria suffer from the excessive number of tourists arriving every year. This influx is leading the administrations of the various Italian municipalities to take steps to limit the number of revenues.

San Marco Square, Venice; on pixabay
Florence; photo by: Matyas Prochy; on unsplash
Cinque Terre; photo by: Josh Hild; on Unsplash

Consequences of overtourism

1 Destruction of natural ecosystems

The flora and fauna are usually the first to suffer overtourism in the most popular natural tourist destinations. In some natural destinations, environmental issues led to the destruction of entire ecosystems. Among these problems, we can mention deforestation, exploitation of the soil and pollution. But also, no policy of raising awareness and protecting natural environments. In some cases, this situation has no possibility of redemption, such as, for example, what happens to coral reefs around the world. As global warming and tourists irreparably ruined them, corals are part of a natural system that is becoming extinct.

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Photo by Juanma Clemente-Alloza; on Unsplash

(Video) SMART Tourism is the Solution to Overtourism

2. Increase in the amount of waste

Another consequence of mass tourism is the large accumulation of waste that people don’t differentiate. Inevitably, it creates a major environmental problem of disposal and pollution.Boracay Island, in the Philippines, has been closed to restore the ecosystem after years of uncontrolled tourism.The waste problem is also very important on the island of Bali, which is trying to combat it thanks to the thought of Zero waste Bali.

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Photo by Laurentiu Morariu; on Unsplash

3. Escape and malaise of residents

Too much tourism affects mainly the locals.Across Europe, in cities like Barcelona or Venice, the phenomenon of overtourism has unleashed strong tensions from the inhabitants.Residents complain about the rising of housing prices and rentals. In effect, they inflated them due to the spread of online platforms such as Airbnb. But also, they talked about the disappearance of small shops, replaced by tourist shops, and the inviolability of their cities.The last consequence is the escape of residents from their cities, which have become tourist theatres, thus losing their authenticity.

Solutions to overtourism for destinations

As tourist flows around the world increased, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has dedicated an entire Report to overtourism.Certainly, there is not one single solution, but many small things that we can do during our holidays.The Report thus proposes 11 strategies and 68 measures to combat excessive tourism.

Here are the 11 suggestions that tourist destinations can follow to counter the phenomenon of overtourism.

  • Encourage the dispersion of tourists within the city, and even beyond the territory, suggesting the visit of lesser-known destinations and less touristic areas.
  • Promote tourism in different periods (for example out of season) and at different times from the most popular.
  • Create new and different itineraries and tourist attractions.
  • Review and improve regulations, such as closing some overcrowded areas to traffic.
  • Attract more responsible types of travelers.
  • ensure the benefits of tourism to local communities, for example by increasing the number of inhabitants employed in tourism, and by involving residents in the creation of tourism experiences.
  • Develop and promote experiences in the city or territory that benefit both tourists and residents.
  • Increase the infrastructure and services of the resort.
  • Involve the local community in tourist decisions and choices.
  • Educate travelers and tell them how to be more responsible and respectful of the place.
  • Monitor and measure changes.
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To counter the phenomenon of overtourism, the city of Venice has introduced these rules for tourists, image via ComuneVenezia.it

And what can we do?

With Ecobnb we promote responsible tourism, avoiding overcrowded famous destinations and promoting the close destinations. Often we don’t know what surrounds us and which beauties we can find without necessarily taking planes that emit huge amounts of CO2. Slow and sustainable tourism offers authentic locations. These places enrich local communities and those who invest in eco-sustainable activities.The real holiday could also be for you the relaxing and unplugging holiday. You could simply recharge the energies in contact with nature. Nonetheless, remember to try and lessen as much as possible for your environmental impact.

Overtourism: Causes, Consequences and Solutions - Ecobnb (13)

photo by Arthur Poulin; on Unsplash

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The good news is that each of us can do our part to counteract overtourism and promote sustainable tourism.

Here’s your vademecum

Here are 5 simple ideas, a vademecum, to promote quality tourism, instead of quantity, every time we travel.

  1. Avoid air flights and cruises, move by train and public transport whenever you can.
  2. Don’t take your decisions following the mass. If everyone goes to the mountains on August 15, why don’t you choose a different date?
  3. Organize your holidays in an alternative way, choose authentic and less touristy destinations.
  4. Travel out of season: spring and autumn are beautiful and less expensive seasons.
  5. Respect the places you visit (here you find 40 tips to travel green), try to live like a local”, immerse yourself in the culture of the place and make friends with the inhabitants.

Cover image:photo by Elizeu Dias via Unsplash

FAQs

What are the causes of overtourism? ›

Causes to Emergence of Overtourism
  • Increased World Population. Increasing the world population is the main cause of overtourism because the market is expanding and thus the number of visitors has increased.
  • Increased Urbanisation. ...
  • Safety. ...
  • Travel Cost Decreases. ...
  • Destination as Common. ...
  • Social Media. ...
  • Rights of Travellers.
13 May 2021

How can we solve the problem of overtourism? ›

Promote tourism in different periods (for example out of season) and at different times from the most popular. Create new and different itineraries and tourist attractions. Review and improve regulations, such as closing some overcrowded areas to traffic. Attract more responsible types of travelers.

What are the effects of overtourism? ›

One of the most prevalent issues with overtourism is its impact on the environment. Too many visitors and not enough regulations can lead to excess pollution, ecosystem destruction and the death of rare plants and animals.

What are 5 negative effects of tourism? ›

Tourism often puts pressure on natural resources through over-consumption, often in places where resources are already scarce. Tourism puts enormous stress on local land use, and can lead to soil erosion, increased pollution, natural habitat loss, and more pressure on endangered species.

What is overtourism PDF? ›

In a very short time, the term overtourism has come to be used to describe the negative. effect of tourism, and has been applied to the problem of excessive numbers of tourists in. many cities. The discussion around overtourism has brought attention to the negative. consequences of the unchecked increase in tourism.

What is a disadvantage of tourism? ›

Environmental disadvantages of tourism. Intense use of resources. Physical damage to natural and marine areas. Increased waste, pollution and emissions. Land use and infrastructure development.

How can we prevent negative impact of tourism? ›

Support Local People & Businesses

Bypass travel agents and avoid booking tours and activities online before you go. Booking locally means the operator or business is making most if not all of the money you pay.

What are the problems of mass tourism? ›

Overcrowding can impact fragile environments and soil will be eroded away. Damage to the ecosystem might totally change the characteristics of a place. Provides money that can help local people to protect their environment. Overcrowding can cause congestion and pollution.

What is the conclusion of tourism? ›

Tourism commodifies cultures and their associated businesses and goods. It effects the environment in many harmful ways, including the habitats of many endangered animals. Tourism can also overshadow or in the opposite direction drastically change the indigenous cultures of a place.

Where is overtourism a problem? ›

Spain, Italy, Iceland and Croatia have all been in the news as victims of overtourism, but in each case, this is extremely localised. Barcelona is rammed, and many of its residents are understandably fed up, but Spain is a surprisingly large country, and many of its cities are not at all crowded with tourists.

How does overtourism affect the economy? ›

Overtourism can also decrease quality of life for residents, leading to an increase in housing costs, limited economic opportunities, and/or exposure to the misuse of public spaces.

What are the benefits of tourism? ›

Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens. The number of jobs created by tourism in many different areas is significant.

What is the positive and negative impact of tourism? ›

Tourism can have positive and negative effects on people and the environment. Tourism is an important industry and can aid the development of low-income countries. Tourism requires management or it can become unsustainable.

What are the major impacts of tourism? ›

The economic effects of tourism include improved tax revenue and personal income, increased standards of living, and more employment opportunities. Sociocultural impacts are associated with interactions between people with differing cultural backgrounds, attitudes and behaviors, and relationships to material goods.

What are 5 positive effects of tourism? ›

Positive Impacts of Tourism on the Environment
  • Awareness raising and experience.
  • Skills and education.
  • Conservation activities and biodiversity.
  • Endangered species protection.
  • Illegal trade prevention.
  • Finance & jobs.
  • Sustainable practices & legislation.
15 Feb 2022

How is overtourism defined? ›

universities collaborating on this project, 'overtourism' can be defined as “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived. quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors. experiences in a negative way”.

What is mass tourism example? ›

There are many types of mass tourism, including skiing in the mountains, sunbathing on a beach, visiting a theme park (e.g. Euro Disney near Paris) or taking a cruise. Governments and local people often support mass tourism because it generates a lot of income for local areas.

What is the difference between mass tourism and overtourism? ›

Overtourism is related to the carrying capacity of a destination and to overcrowding, when too many people visit a specific place for safety or comfort. Overtourism is sometimes incorrectly equated with mass tourism. Mass tourism entails large groups of tourists coming to the same destination.

What are three problems of tourism? ›

What problems are faced by tourists when they visit the city/...
  • They do not have information about where to go.
  • They do not have information about where to go.
  • Hospitality (Hotels, restaurants, etc.)
  • Transportation & Mobility.
  • Lack of public spaces.
  • Traffic congestion & pollution.
  • Lack of security.

What is the advantage and disadvantages? ›

As nouns, the difference between disadvantage and advantage is that disadvantage is a weakness or undesirable characteristic; a con while the advantage is any condition, circumstance, opportunity, or means, particularly favorable to success, or any desired end.

How can we make tourism better? ›

13+ Amazing Ways to Promote Sustainable Tourism
  1. Avoid the plane, or take non-stop flights. ...
  2. Go green. ...
  3. Spread awareness on sustainable tourism. ...
  4. Support local restaurants. ...
  5. Support legislation that promotes sustainable tourism. ...
  6. Buy souvenirs from local stores. ...
  7. Support the fight against illegal trade. ...
  8. Walk where possible.

How does tourism affect the society? ›

There are many social benefits of tourism, demonstrating positive social impacts. These might include; preserving the local culture and heritage; strengthening communities; provision of social services; commercialisation of culture and art; revitalisation of customs and art forms and the preservation of heritage.

How can we reduce the impact on the environment? ›

Seven top tips to reduce your environmental impact
  1. Tip 1 – Watch your energy consumption. ...
  2. Tip 2 – Go vegetarian for a day. ...
  3. Tip 3 – Recycle old technology. ...
  4. Tip 4 – Conserve resources. ...
  5. Tip 5 – Do some gardening. ...
  6. Tip 6 – Buy in season and avoid packaging. ...
  7. Tip 7 – Travel smart.

What are the negative effects of over capacity of a certain destination? ›

Overtourism is a big problem because it creates negative environmental and social impacts. In terms of environmental impacts, overtourism contributes to an increase in water consumption, air pollution, litter and waste in tourism destinations.

How does tourism affect local culture? ›

Most of the common positive impacts of tourism on culture include increasing cross cultural interaction; understanding, maintaining and keeping local culture, arts, crafts and traditions; empowering host communities; and strengthening cultural values.

How can overcrowding be prevented? ›

How can destinations reduce overcrowding?
  1. Build better infrastructure. Up to a point, overcrowding can simply be improved with better infrastructure. ...
  2. Provide better information. Allowing visitors to plan their visit to minimise delays is important. ...
  3. Manage the flows. ...
  4. Create supporting experiences to disperse visitors.
13 Aug 2018

What is an example of mass tourism? ›

There are many types of mass tourism, including skiing in the mountains, sunbathing on a beach, visiting a theme park (e.g. Euro Disney near Paris) or taking a cruise. Governments and local people often support mass tourism because it generates a lot of income for local areas.

How can overcrowding be prevented? ›

How can destinations reduce overcrowding?
  1. Build better infrastructure. Up to a point, overcrowding can simply be improved with better infrastructure. ...
  2. Provide better information. Allowing visitors to plan their visit to minimise delays is important. ...
  3. Manage the flows. ...
  4. Create supporting experiences to disperse visitors.
13 Aug 2018

How is mass tourism destroying cities? ›

What negative economic effects does mass tourism have on local communities? These include, for example, rising prices – especially on the property market – and the displacement of indigenous people from town centres. In some cases, there's also dependence on tourism or seasonal employment.

How do places change when too many people visit? ›

Overtourism is a big problem because it creates negative environmental and social impacts. In terms of environmental impacts, overtourism contributes to an increase in water consumption, air pollution, litter and waste in tourism destinations.

What are the positive and negative impacts of mass tourism? ›

In the UK, tourism makes up nearly 10% of the total GDP which means that tourism has cultural, economic and environmental impacts.
...
Cultural impacts.
Positive impactsNegative impacts
Rich and poor can learn from each other.Tourist behaviour can lead to locals feeling that their culture and beliefs are minimised.
3 more rows

What is the term of tourism? ›

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.

What is sustainable tourism development? ›

"Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities"

What are the four effects of overcrowding? ›

Effects on quality of life due to crowding may include increased physical contact, lack of sleep, lack of privacy and poor hygiene practices.

How do you manage overcrowding in tourism destinations? ›

Spread visitors across sites, for example, by developing new attractions and promoting less-popular sites and areas. Adjust pricing to balance supply and demand by, for example, introducing variable or tiered pricing. Regulate accommodation supply through regulations on home-sharing and additional hotel rooms.

How overcrowding affect our life? ›

More people means an increased demand for food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, transportation, and more. And all that consumption contributes to ecological degradation, increased conflicts, and a higher risk of large-scale disasters like pandemics.

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