Tourism is something that always seems to be a key part of life. We live in a world where we work with the weekend ahead of us and even more so for the sweet holiday every year. This was not always the case as travel, especially by air, was much more expensive. The entry of low-cost airlines has caused prices to fall, and flying is now often as cheap as driving fast.
People no longer take a single vacation a year, they go to European cities for the weekend for entertainment, they fly to stadiums for sporting events or concerts, and they visit beaches many times a year. Tourism has become a frequent part of life.
It sounds great. People have more money and are spending it in exciting ways. Locals in tourist areas get more visitors and the economy there also thrives. However, there is a very real downside. Over tourism. At the heart of tourism is the idea that any place has a limit to how many visitors it can take, and when that number is exceeded, there are huge costs to the environment, the economy and the local community.
Imagine a city like Barcelona. It’s a big city that for years didn’t even think it had borders. It has created attraction after attraction and is now one of the most interesting places to visit in Europe. However, the city is struggling to cope with the number of visitors. The impact on the environment is huge. Many people visit cities like Barcelona just for a short trip, leaving their impact on the environment but not spending much. Backpackers and cruise ships are considered the worst type of visitors to attract because they don’t spend much but leave an impact. The only visitor that is considered worse is the bachelor party.
Many cities in Europe have become extremely attractive as places for wild bachelorette parties. Big groups go down and get into big trouble. They damage public infrastructure, get into fights and generally wreak havoc. Many cities are already saying they no longer want to host bachelorette parties.
In smaller places such as islands and seaside resorts, the impact is also significant. Although these places survive due to tourism, too much can have a strong negative effect. Local residents struggle to survive in the small town they grew up in as housing prices rise. If you run a business that isn’t affected by tourism, you won’t be able to afford your house soon, and probably won’t be able to afford food on the high street. It’s like two economies forming and colliding.
What is the solution? Although we are happy to advise you to stop getting cheap flights that probably won’t happen. Instead, we recommend traveling in smaller groups as your impact on the environment will be smaller. Pay attention to local customs and culture and be as respectful as possible. It may be your weekend getaway, but that’s the life of the local community – treat them with respect.
Finally, try to take the road less traveled. There are many other wonderful small towns and villages that would enjoy little tourist interest and could provide an incredibly unique trip. Instead of going where everyone is going, go where no one has been before.
The phrase over-tourism now exists in our vocabulary, even though it never existed before. It’s time to coin a new phrase called conscious tourism to become more mainstream so we can combat these issues and make sustainability a key element of our holiday agenda.