11/17/2021 - 16:41
- Student work
This article was written by Asia Nawrocka as part of the course Professional Writing and Communication 1 during academic year 2019 - 2020
It is impossible not to notice the enormous flows of tourist wandering through the city when visiting a destination like Venice, Rome or Paris. The queues at popular sightseeing spots or attractions can be endless, the streets congested due to all types of city tours and the restaurants and cafes are overfull. This overcrowdedness does not only negatively influence the tourists’ experience during the trip, but it also significantly affects residents’ quality of life. Even though tourism is beneficial for the local economy, as it generates income for businesses and creates jobs, at a certain point, those advantages are outweighed by the problems caused by it.
Unfortunately, it seems that this point has been reached by some destinations; in the recent years, various anti-tourism protests have been organized by locals. Luckily, most of them were peaceful. A few however were not. An example of those are the attacks on tourists’ busses that took place in Spain, performed by an extremist anti-tourism group called “Arran’’ (Coldwell, 2017). According to experts, this might be the first sign of a phenomenon called tourismphobia. This concept can be defined as an extreme aversion to tourists and manifests itself by verbal and physical violence against tourists and destruction of tourists’ infrastructure. It occurs when the resident-tourist relationship is troubled for a longer period (Egresi, 2018).
Causes of Tourismphobia
There are various reasons for
negative associations locals have when it comes to tourism, as mentioned earlier, the first of which is the traffic congestion. The streets are full of vehicles and people, causing traffic-jams and therefore increasing the transportation time. Moreover, the movement of tourists leads to air pollution as well as noise pollution, which is increased even more by partying visitors playing music and being loud on the streets. This type of irresponsible tourist often causes damage to the landscape by littering, vandalism or other disturbing behavior. When it comes to the economic consequences, tourism leads to inflation and as the prices increase, the buying power of residents decreases. This is particularly visible in the housing sector; the rent increases due to two reasons; the first one is gentrification, so the process of renovating and improving of buildings and districts to make them more attractive for middle- and higher-class visitors. The second one is the fact that tourists are in general willing to pay more than residents. This way locals are forced to move out, leading to a higher tourist: resident atio, which reduces the sense of belonging and social connectivity to the place. A good example of this phenomenon is Barceloneta, which lost over 11% of the permanent population between 2000 and 2015 (Egresi, 2018).
Causes of overtourism
Knowing that it is overtourism that leads to tourismphobia, the question arises as to what the causes of it are. The first one is rather obvious; travelling has become cheaper, resulting in more people who can afford going on a trip. This growth exceeds all the forecasts; UNWTO estimated that international tourist arrivals increased with 6% to 1.4 billion in 2018, while the registered growth of global economy amounts to 3.7% only (Koens et all, 2018). This growth is caused by the introduction of cheap flight tickets by low cost airlines, encouraging tourists to take more, often shorter trips. Cheaper flights are not the only reason for the growth; introduction of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb or CouchSurfing leads to more affordable accommodations, which again increases the numbers of tourists. These platforms are viewed as extremely problematic by locals for one more reason. They result in a movement of tourists from typical leisure- and tourism-oriented areas, to residential areas, where they literally live next door to locals. Moreover, the way we travel changed; we no longer want to see the main attractions the destination has to offer, eat in restaurants we are familiar with and shop in stores we know. The current trend is to look for a genuine atmosphere of the place, have an authentic experience by getting to know the culture and residents, eating local food or joining local events (Egresi, 2018).
Logistics as a solution
Since the issue arose, various solutions have been introduced, in the hope that they will resolve the problem at least partly. Some of the destinations and attractions tried to limit the number of tourists, by introducing special regulations for entrance or by freezing the development of tourism facilities like hotels. Even though this might work on short term, managing the flows of tourists might be a better solution. In last year’s report, the World Tourism Organization came up with five ways in which logistics could contribute to solving the problem of tourism overcrowdedness.
The first strategy is to promote dispersal of tourists within the city, instead of making the city center being the main attraction. This can be achieved by organizing events in less visited parts of the city and surroundings as well as promoting attractions in those parts of the destination. Moreover, creating better and cheaper public transportation options outside the city center should help too.
The second logistics related solution involves fighting seasonality and rush hours, by promoting time-based dispersion. First, promoting travelling during the peak-off month, organizing events outside of the high season and offering discounts and other deals in the low season should solve the problem of seasonality. Monitoring real-time queue length with the use of technology offers a way to prevent tourists from visiting the attraction all at the same time of the day.
The third idea is to stimulate new itineraries and attractions, which can be achieved through the publication of special travel guides and books or by offering combined discount for specific attractions, in order to make them more attractive for tourist.
The fourth strategy includes identifying and targeting specific types of visitors. If the destination can establish who causes the problems, it can try to market and promote the city and its’ attractions in such a way, that it attracts the most beneficial type of visitor.
The last idea is to improve the city’s infrastructure and facilities in general. Those include public transportation, sustainable traffic management, walking routes and cycling lanes or cleaning and maintenance facilities for tourists’ attractions (Koens et all, 2018). This way, the impact that tourists have on the destination would be deceased, as everything would be organized better and result in less problems.
Hopefully, when those are successfully implemented, the earlier described banners will disappear, and peaceful co-habitation of locals and tourists will finally be feasible, as both can benefit from each other’s presence.
- Coldwell, W. (10 August 2017). First Venice and Barcelona: now anti-tourism marches spread across Europe. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/aug/10/anti-tourism-marches-spread-across-europe-venice-barcelona
- Cuskelly, C. (17 August 2017). MAPPED: Shock map as tourists are no longer welcome at these European holiday destinations. Retrieved from: https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/841843/holidays-2017-anti-tourism-protests-where-map
- Egresi, Istvan. (2018). "Tourists go home!" - Tourism overcrowding and "tourismophobia" in European cities (Can tourists and residents still co-habitate in the city?).
- Godfrey, K. (22 March 2018). Spain warning: Anti-tourist marches to increase - could your summer holiday be affected? Retrieved from: https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/935689/spain-holidays-warning-anti-tourism-travel-advice
- Koens, K., Papp, B., & Postma, A. (September 2018). ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions. UNWTO