Many global destinations are buckling under pressure of mass tourism

Published on : Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hands touching a globeVenice is planning to reroute the massive cruise liners. Barcelona has cracked down on apartment rentals. Both places are trying to curb mass or over tourism, which is disrupting communities, harming tourist attractions and buildings and creating problems in the lives of travelers and locals alike.

Tourism-phobia has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in European destinations where visitors are crowding at popular spots. The backlashes from locals at such places have given rise to anti-tourist slogans like “Tourists go home” and “Tourists are terrorists.”
Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO said, “This is a wake-up call.”

The resentment could rise with increase of tourism. The UNWTO forecasts 1.8 billion trips by 2030, up from 1.2 billion in 2016. Cheap airfare is fuelling the growth, along with massive growth in international travel from countries like China.

In spite of that, many destinations rely on tourism as a primary source of jobs and prosperity. Tourism accounts for around 10 percent of the world’s annual GDP, bringing hard currency to many countries that desperately need it, like Greece.

But tourism can also harm the quality of life for residents, with packed beaches, locals priced out of housing and congested streets in the narrow byways of European cities. Environmental damage is also possible in the long term. Rifai, who leaves the UNWTO at the end of the year, dismissed the idea that growth is “the enemy.” What is required, he said, is the need to manage tourism in a “sustainable and responsible” way that benefits local communities.

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