The Stream

Is mass tourism ruining vacations as we know them?

New boom in global tourism puts strain on popular holiday hotspots.

On Tuesday, July 30 at 19:30 GMT:

Holiday. Many people look forward to it all year, as a chance to get away from the stress of everyday life and let loose in a new place. But what if that new place is over capacity? That’s the problem facing many hotspots around the world recently, from Bali to Barcelona to Mt Everest to Machu Pichu. These destinations are grappling with overtourism – when the presence of too many people in one area diminishes quality of life for both locals and visitors.

In one sense, these places are the victims of their own success. Whether through social media or other marketing, they have convinced visitors en masse of their value. But many locals are now saying the cost of a tourism economy is too high. Mass tourism translates into traffic congestion and environmental damage. It also prices residents out of their hometowns and spurs the closure of local shops in favor of more lucrative tourist-focused businesses.

Mass tourism is set to be the new normal, due to more affordable airfare and the rise of the global middle class. According to a report from the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, there were 25 million international arrivals in 1950. That number skyrocketed to 1.3 billion in 2017. The UNWTO forecasts the sector will continue to grow 3.3 percent annually, with some 1.8 billion tourists forecast to travel in 2030. Much of the new traffic comes from Asia, specifically China and India.

But cruise ships are also facilitating mass tourism around the world. This summer, calls to ban these liners grew in Venice, Italy after one crashed into a dock, injuring five people. Residents in other popular hotspots have also been protesting overtourism over the past few years. Governments are responding by imposing tourism taxes, limiting access to popular destinations through ticketing systems and even closing sites to give them a chance to recover.

During Monday’s episode, we’ll ask our panelists, should limits be set on global tourism? Join the conversation.

Read more:
​Too many people want to travel – The Atlantic
What the tourists did to paradise, in pictures – The Guardian
Top tourism spots crack down as they become victim of own success – Reuters

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