Published on : Friday, August 11, 2017
Mass tourism is really creating a lot of uproar in many European cities at present. When places from the Mediterranean to the Isle of Skye all start complaining more or less simultaneously about the sheer pressure of tourist numbers in their streets and beauty spots, it feels as if the always uneasy balance between the visited and the visitors has gone beyond a tipping point.
Pictures of a wall in Barcelona saying, “Tourist Go Home”, or of protesters in Palma saying, “Tourism Kills Mallorca” should make any holidaymaker uneasy whose summer getaway has taken him to places like San Sebastián, Dubrovnik, Florence, Venice and – further afield – New Orleans and Thailand. Many of these destinations have either taken or are considering immediate measures to limit the relentless pressure from mass tourism.
Predictably, Venice is one of the most pressured of all. 28 million tourists arrived this year, in a city with a population of 55,000, many disembarking from monstrous cruise ships that dwarf the ancient city as they approach the Grand Canal. Each day in summer is a humiliation of most of the things the world treasures about Venice. Not surprisingly, many locals protested against such huge tourist numbers.
Anarchists in Barcelona captured the headlines by holding up tourist buses in protest against the cost of living that they say is inflicted by tourism, especially by short-term-let companies such as Airbnb, which drive up housing costs. Next week, something similar is promised in the Basque town of San Sebastián.
But these are only the hot spots. The tourism problem runs far wider. Now tourists across the world make more than a billion foreign trips a year, twice as many as 20 years ago. The problem shows itself in both supply and demand. There isn’t enough room for many to walk through the centre of Dubrovnik, or enough public loos on Skye for the visitors. But the number of people wanting to visit such places is rising all the time, fed by greater global prosperity, cheaper air travel and increased overall provision of hotels worldwide. Tourism is now the largest employer on the planet. One in every 11 people relies on the industry for work. The governments throughout the world need to be more responsible and come out with effective solutions. Individual responsibility is equally important.
Tags: mass tourism