Between dedicated location Instagram pages, budget travel accommodations, and accessible navigation applications, the travel bug has sparked an increased level of tourism in destinations worldwide. Last year, over 1.4 billion tourists traveled internationally.
Without being managed, popular tourism locations can result in damaged ecosystems, threatened culture and heritage, poor infrastructure and polluted environments. The city of Venice, Italy has had to fight back against littering tourists, inflated rent and damaged coastlines from cruise ships. The city alone receives 30 million visitors every year. Water levels are rising and many native residents have left, the city predicts there will not be any Venetian residents by 2030.
Seven thousand miles away in Bali, Indonesia, the destination was struck with the Eat, Pray, Love effect. Quant rainforests and fields have been replaced with bustling world-class resorts and dedicated Eat, Pray, Love based tours. In late 2017, the country declared a “garbage emergency” after tides of plastic and waste spread across 3.6 miles of western coastline.
Locations facing overtourism have been forced to take action. This month, Venice major Luigi Brugnaro has urged the ban of cruise ships passing through the Giudecca Canal. Bali is constructing a bylaw to impose a $10 tax on foreign tourists when leaving the country.
Beloved destinations across the world are facing overtourism issues. Mount Everest, The Galapagos Islands, Amsterdam, Boracay and some U.S. National Parks are all forced to manage the effects of overtourism.
Linda Meriglaino, resource manager for the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming urges the awareness toward the increased effects on wildlife. “Increased visitorship may increase revenue, but it also increases costs, such as heightening the demand for visitor services and different facilities, such as demand for new visitor services and different facilities,” said Meriglaino.
Changing how we travel to become sustainable tourists
The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) says that responsible tourism can aid rural poverty, provide peace and understanding amount cultures, educate, and provide economic opportunity to indigenous peoples.
- Reconsider your bucket list. Often travel destinations on our own bucket list are shared by millions of others spanning the world. This results in specific locations being overly visited. The World Travel & Tourism Council conducted an assessment of locations worldwide and ranked their readiness for tourism growth.
- Lessen your eco-footprint and stay small. Utilize the city’s public transportation system and travel in small groups rather to large groups. Don’t litter and choose environmentally friendly accommodations during your stay.
- Spend and shop local. Local guides and shop owners know the city and will best direct you away from the crowds to hidden gems. By supporting these businesses, you directly support locally owned businesses and the community you visit.
- Consider visiting in the off seasons. Weather may not be as ideal, but prices drop, there are lessened crowds and you’re more likely to experience the country like locals do during the less traveled seasons.
In order to protect native residents and resources threatened by growing tourism, destinations must take steps toward improved management of infrastructure and local regulations. It is possible to experience the world without being a heavy contributor of the issues heavily visited locations are facing.
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