Published on : Tuesday, November 21, 2017
For hordes of holidaymakers flocking to Spain, it must be shocking to see “tourists go home” banner on buildings in Barcelona and Majorca. The anti-tourist graffiti, tyre-slashing and window-smashing are protests against the economics and morality of mass tourism, which – according to activists – impoverishes the working-class. Still in other parts of the world, the tourist trade is seen as vital to the livelihood of local people.
Tourism is what we make it; Barcelona and Venice do not inevitably have to be dominated by tourism, victims of mass tourism. Increasingly residents are raising the issue and it is moving up the political agenda in the city governments. What can be done to manage tourism so that it does not overwhelm the cities – Venice, Barcelona, Paris, London, New York City, Prague, Berlin, Rome – where the sheer mass of tourism is beginning to be seen as a problem.
Many in the tourism industry would probably say no to mass tourism and its negative effects. We often describe ourselves as travellers and visitors, in the same way, that people complain about traffic without recognizing that they are part of it. Overtourism describes destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently. Hence, popular destinations like Venice, Barcelona and Dubrovnik are feeling the negative sides of overtourism and the frustrations are being surfacing in the shape of locals coming out in protests and even acts of violence.