Many countries are bringing in restrictions against mass tourism

 Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ibiza mass tourismTourism contributes around 9.5 per cent to the global GDP; it is the single largest employer, fetching one out of 11 jobs worldwide. With increasing incomes, mobility and better connectivity, tourism is growing at a rate of 15 percent annually with many countries totally dependent on this sector. However, a darker underbelly of this sector is now becoming visible.

 
As the numbers become unsustainable its negative fallout can be seen: the adverse cultural, ecological and infrastructural impacts can be seen on places and communities. Natural landscapes are devastated by vehicles, garbage and human waste, with infrastructure stretched to breaking point. Venice is a case in point: it is a city of just 200,000 native residents, and is flooded by 30 million tourists every year.

 
Traditional small businesses and shops are shutting down to make way for the tourism stocks-in-trade: pizza joints, cafes, bike rentals and fake souvenirs shops. Real estate prices have skyrocketed and residences are being taken over by Airbnb. Locals cannot afford to live in the city anymore and 160,000 have moved out, displaced by the attractions of their own city. Barcelona has the same picture: its population of 1,600,000 is swamped by 30 million visitors every year. Crime and drugs infiltrate the regions, which is similar to our own Goa and Kullu in Himachal. Civic services—transportation, water, police, waste disposal designed for much smaller populations cannot keep pace, and once again, the locals continue to suffer.

 
Many communities and cities are no longer willing to put up with this consistent deterioration in the quality of their daily lives and are pushing back strongly. These include Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Paris, Kyoto, Bali and Rio de Janeiro. In Europe, an organization has been established to take the fight forward—“Network of Southern European Cities Against Tourism (SET)”, which is driving governments to do something drastic. Tourists in many places in Europe are now being branded ‘tourism terrorists’ and met with banners and shouts of GO BACK and LEAVE US ALONE.

 
Many governments are shutting down destinations that cannot cope with the swarms. In April, the Philippines banned all tourists from its most famous beach resort, the island of Boracay which attracts 2.5 million visitors a year and generates $2.5 billion annually; President Duterte called it a “cesspool”. Thailand also closed down its Maya beach due to environmental degradation. The famous Galapagos Islands are also limiting the number to 100,000 per annum, and Dubrovnik to 4,000 per day. Daily number of visitors to the Taj Mahal is also recommended to be restricted.

 

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