ou may have noticed: ;e world’s population isn’t getting
And as society swells in size, travel has become more
a;ordable and attainable than ever before, putting the squeeze on
popular destinations. Hot spots such as Amsterdam; Venice, Italy;
Dubrovnik, Croatia; and many others are increasingly experiencing
overtourism — where locals and/or guests in a destination feel there
are too many visitors and that the quality of life or the experience in the
area has deteriorated. Along with mammoth volumes of visitors each
year, these places are seeing more pollution, overcrowding and a heightened threat to fragile ecosystems and historical landmarks.
Venice, for one, is ;ooding with both rising tides and mass tourism;
some 60,000 visitors per day are driving up the cost of living for locals
and straining the preservation of cultural landmarks. Barcelona, too, is
feeling the burn — like the denizens of Venice, its citizens are protesting,
and o;cials in many top European cities are passing laws to cap tourism
numbers and even ban cruise ships from docking. Natural and archaeological sites such as the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu are in peril
from overtourism, as well, and have been forced to restrict visitation and
impose tighter regulations.
While the causes of overtourism are vast and complex, there are a
few key factors. According to Ethan Gelber, a journalist and consultant
specializing in responsible tourism, these include access to travel (due
to lowered costs and better technology); social value (displaying travel
accomplishments via social platforms or discussing bucket-list achieve-
ments can create social capital); development opportunities for locals and
investment payo;s for outside developers; and misplaced entitlement,
where some jetsetters feel they “deserve” an experience.
Of course, there are also many people — likely many of your
clients — who are concerned about their global footprint and the
impact of travel on local communities, historical sites, indigenous
people, the environment and ;ora and fauna.
Mindful and responsible travelers can do four things, Gelber says.
First, connect with local people before, during and even a;er a
trip; be mindful of local hosts and work to advance their interests.
Second, respect local heritage and culture. ;ird, travel in a manner that
is sensitive to the local environment. And lastly, spend money locally,
ensuring that tourism bene;ts the right people.
Additionally, consider visiting well-known destinations during low or
shoulder seasons, and move through places in active and creative ways.
For example, walk, hike or bike from town to town to add adventure and
reduce transportation usage, says Casey Hanisko, president of business
services and events for the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“I’d also recommend clients talk to a travel advisor or operator,”
she said. “;ey can steer travelers to places that are unique; suggest
low-volume times for overcrowded places; and cra; or deliver
itineraries that create a balance toward seeing a ‘bucket list’ without
threatening a destination.”
For clients who keep stewardship of the Earth top of mind, we’ve
rounded up ;ve alternatives to well-trodden destinations that travel
professionals can suggest. No less stunning in natural beauty nor
lacking in rich history and culture, these still relatively unknown or
underappreciated gems can provide the perfect setting for exploring
the world in a more responsible way.
By Michelle Juergen
Alternative destinations for clients
concerned about overtourism
in travel hot spots around the world