There are more and more people traveling every year and in many instances, it’s becoming difficult for some popular tourist attraction destinations to deal with the influx of visitors on a daily basis. Much of the problem is caused by visitors who lack respect for the host city or attraction. Travel on the world stage overcrowding and poor behavior has even caused the closure of much-loved attractions.
In many cases, over-tourism is suffocating cities around the world. However, there are ways for tourists to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
VERY FEW HIDDEN GEMS LEFT
With the advent of the internet, there are very few hidden gems left for the adventurous traveler to seek out. As soon as an amazing new destination is found its location spreads like wildfire across the travel websites.
It makes sense that people want to broaden their horizons, but the concept of searching out hidden gems to scratch off a bucket list is exactly the kind of attitude that is perpetuating over-tourism.
This is not a problem that is simply an issue in one segment of world travel destinations. Over-tourism is impacting many cities around the world.
OVER-TOURISM A WORLDWIDE DILEMMA
Peru’s Macha Picchu was once famously known as the lost city of the Incas. However, it has been found to be far too many tourists. It was discovered over 100 years ago and although unknown to most of the world, eventually morphed into a tourist hotspot.
Tourists come by the busloads just so they can say they have found the lost city high up in the Andes. Just last year, over 5000 people on average walked up and down the pathways of Machu Picchu on a daily basis in the peak season months of July and August.
It’s not so much that people visit, it’s the way they behave when they get there. They often do things they should not do. Some people climb ancient structures, mark up the floors, and take stones as souvenirs.
Authorities are beginning to limit the number of visitors at any one time in order to allow security guards to monitor the tourists who are misbehaving.
Scotlands Scenic Isle of Skye is another example of tourism that has gotten out of hand. At one time tourism was not great in Scotland, but over the past several years Scotland has become a tourism hotspot.
Every effort is being made by local officials to limit the number of crowds in an attempt to allow city centers to hold on to their character.
As an example of what media and the internet can do, The North Coast 500, the road traverses the north and west of Scotland was heavily marketed and the results were sensational once travel media picked up on it. All of a sudden a four-month travel season became ten months and the businesses along the route can hardly cope.
There isn’t enough accommodation, toilets, or parking.
This once quiet hidden gem of the travel world is now part of the world’s bucket list.
Amsterdam’s Red Light District has a very tolerant attitude to the use of drugs and of prostitution. So many people visit Amsterdam that they have begun to ask tourists too so somewhere else. Almost 20 million people visit Amsterdam every year, and the citizens want their city back.
The city has tried many things to discourage tourists. They have increased hotel taxes, prevented more tourists shops from opening, and have even banned tours of the red light district.
Locals feel like prisoners in their own homes on the weekends especially. Many tourists start drinking early in the day and by night are throwing up in people’s yards, urinate in the streets, and scream. The city has taken steps to warn tourists to stop drinking in the streets and taking pictures of the sex workers.
Most of the problems take place in the red-light district because many tourists think that Amsterdam is a place where anything goes. Many of the sex workers are against the city’s decision to stop tours to the area. As one sex worker said, “most of the girls don’t mind the tours and are just interested in making a living.”
Still, the deputy mayor believes it’s wrong to see sex workers as a tourist attraction, and would like to see tourists visit other parts of the city besides the red-light district. Most of all, he would like tourists to realize that people live in the streets surrounding the red-light district and they shouldn’t constantly have to put up with rude behavior.
IT’S A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP
The people who live in countries that depend on tourism to boost their economy often end up in a love/hate relationship with the influx of tourists.
They love to have them visit their city or country because the money they spend provides locals with a source of income. On the other hand, they hate the way many tourists behave when they do arrive.
I’ve seen it myself many times. It’s no different in St. Thomas in the Caribbean USA Virgin Islands, Hawaii, or Las Vegas. All are major tourism hubs that rely on tourists because they do so much for the economy. However, there always seems to be an underlying feeling of discontent amongst the locals of these major tourism centers.
All these places that are inundated with tourists suffer from overcrowding, littering, drunkenness, and general disrespect of the local culture.
So what can people do in order to make themselves more welcome in the tourist hotspots of the world?
HOW TO BE A BETTER TOURIST
The UN World Tourism Organization estimates that there were 1.4 billion tourist arrivals in 2018. In 1950 there were just 25 million, and by 2008 the number was 636 million, It’s estimated that by 2030 the number will be 1.8 billion. Much of the increase is blamed on a middle class that is constantly growing, much cheaper airfare, and the tourism targets set by local governments.
Another major reason is social media. People will take selfies of themselves at tourist spots around the world and plaster it on the internet for the world to see. It’s thought that this behavior could be a major cause of over-tourism.
As one traveler said, it was almost impossible to get close to the Berlin Wall because so many groups of young people were taking selfies and monopolizing the space.
The question is, do people want to go to a place to enjoy or do they just want to go so they can show others that they have been there? In effect, it becomes a superficial holiday. For example, do people go on an Alaskan cruise to enjoy the beauty of it, or to brag to others that they have been there?
People should have a plan as to what they want to do and see when they travel, instead of seeing something for the sake of seeing it, even though they are not all that interested. As a result, you get places like the Louvre inundated with tourists who have no idea they’re seeing.
Instead of taking a trip and blindly going through the motions, people should research their holiday destination. Just perhaps it would be more of a memorable holiday to spend a week in a city like Rome, Paris, or Amsterdam and see the entire city instead of just the tourist traps that everyone goes to.
Mass Tourism At a Tipping Point
PLAN BETTER AND BE BETTER
It doesn’t matter if you are a first time tourist or a seasoned traveler, you can be a better visitor when you arrive at your destination.
The considerate tourist will make a point to be well-researched when it comes to a specific holiday destination. They will be respectful and genuinely curious about the destination. Stay away from the “selfie culture” and “bucket list” way of thinking. When you visit a foreign destination keep in mind that people live there full time.
Treat the attraction or city you visit as you would your own home and not as a hidden gem that you toss money at in order to enjoy a certain experience you feel entitled to.
Ultimately, traveling is a privilege. There is no such thing as the right to travel.
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