While tourism is a huge moneymaker for people and places across the world it comes with a significant cost. Overtourism is a growing problem across the world and is resulting in cultural, societal, financial and environmental issues. Statistics show that the problem is only going to get worse. How can this issue be solved to preserve the places we all love so much for future generations?
Tourism is a huge industry today and many countries rely on tourism as a large percentage of their GDP. All tourism is not equal. The rise of traveling hen and stag parties is one such example. These parties spend a lot on flights and drinks but little else. They arrive in a city for a short time and cause havoc in the area with anti-social behavior. Cities like Prague and Amsterdam have become known as “stag cities” and are attracting more and more crowds of people looking to party. The net benefit of these groups is low as they often cost the city as much as they bring in. They also dissuade older tourists from coming to the city. Older tourists are often the ones who leave very little cost and spend more on tourist activities, meals, and accommodation.
Responsible tourism is a phrase that has grown in the social sphere lately as organizations want to change how people view their tourist activities. Environmentally there is a huge cost as well. Ignoring the issue of fuel consumption while flying (although many leading companies do now offer carbon offsetting) the impact tourist have on environmental destinations is huge. Places like New Zealand have grown as tourist destinations due to the incredible nature that is there. The low population of New Zealand makes it a beautiful and tranquil place to go. It also means that it can’t take huge influxes of tourists every year. It will damage the local nature and ruin the tranquility that is celebrated there.
Accommodation is facing huge issues. Airbnb is an incredible innovation in the area of tourism allowing people to rent beautiful accommodation for less when they travel and giving people the chance at a second income. However, it is destabilizing accommodation prices everywhere. The price to rent in many cities is growing exponentially due to Airbnb and those who simply want to rent to live in an area are struggling to keep up with the increased rates.
At present, there are tourism boards in cities and countries across the world. The main aim of these organizations is to attract more tourism to each area. The role of these companies will likely change in the coming years as they shift from a growth platform to one focused on responsible tourism. They need to act as the governing body and bring together tourist accommodation, activities, food, and drink businesses to ensure a responsible approach is taken for the future of the city, not just for a quick buck in the present.