Punt tours may soon be offence as over-tourism embraces Cambridge

Published on : Tuesday, August 1, 2017

punt toursCambridge benefits hugely from being on Britain’s tourist trail and its beloved punt tours are one of the major attractions for the visitors. However, the toll of tourism on Cambridge has become so heavy that not only has touting for punt tours been made an offence, but moves are under way that could lead to lawbreakers being imprisoned.


The action against punt touts is just one symptom of the strains of coping with around 5.5 million visits a year. So far this year, the international visitors to Britain increased by 9% and they have spent more than 14%than at the same time last year. The spree fuelled by sterling’s post-referendum decline has caused more Britons holidaying in the UK. For this, the Airbnb and other providers of competitively priced self-catering accommodation have also seen a huge growth. All these adds up to Britain’s tourism honeypots during the summer months.


Most coach tours in front of King’s College in the heart of the city overcrowd the place even before 11 am. What usually starts as a walking tour ends up being in the river.  Punting is a lucrative option and with the high rise in the demand, the unlicensed punt operators opened up some launch points.


Kurt Janson, the director of the Tourism Alliance, said that whatever the downsides are there is no disputing the fact that Britain will see an economic boost from tourism this year.


Numbers of travellers from North America are up 22% – and there has been a 25% increase in visitors from the rest of the world, mostly China, Japan, Australasia and the Middle East. The number of EU visitors rose by only 4%. With this projection, the UK tourism will generate 57,000 jobs this year which is just under half of Cambridge’s population – not counting tourists.


Possibly the only way to change the over tourism is to encourage the first time travellers to visit other parts of the UK. There are big pushes to direct travellers to Wales, particularly for adventure holidays. The trails from London to Bristol, as well as the Lake District and the rich musical traditions of Liverpool and Manchester are equally interesting options to visit.

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