The Herman Trend Alert
September 19, 2018
According to the latest figures from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in 2017, international tourist arrivals set a new record at 1.332 billion, up by about 84 million. That number represents 7 percent growth the largest increase since 2010---and this growth has been happening for eight years in a row. In the first 4 months of 2018, Asia and the Pacific led the world with an increase of 8 percent, while the other regions of Europe (+7 percent), Africa (+6 percent), the Middle East (+4 percent), and the Americas (+3 percent) also recorded upticks. (As previously reported, we believe strongly that the nationalistic and isolationist rhetoric of the current administration has been responsible for depressing these numbers.)
The benefits of tourism
No one would dispute the benefits of tourism; it has brought sorely needed financial support to neglected rural communities, softened the blows of financial downturns, brought attention to endangered species, and been responsible for the rebuilding of crumbling, historic cities.
Coined in 2017, "Overtourism" occurs when too many visitors travel to a particular destination. The key is to explain "too many", clearly a subjective assessment. Locals would define it as when rent prices push them out to make way for vacation rentals. Or when narrow roads become clogged by tourist vehicles. Or when wildlife is scared away or when fragile environments become degraded.
Interestingly, it is the local communities in Barcelona, Iceland, Cornwall (UK), and Venice that have begun to revolt. We would add Antarctica to the list, though the penguins are unlikely to protest. (Of these places, only Antarctica and Iceland have taken steps to limit the numbers of tourists.) Even Gili Trawangan, a remote island in Indonesia has been affected by hordes of tourists. There is even a powerful, yet short documentary called, Crowded Out: The Story of Overtourism.
The near-term and no-so-near-term futures
The opposite of "responsible tourism", we see that the near-term future for popular tourist spots is bleak. Enterprising entrepreneurs will arrange exclusive visits for small affluent groups when others will be barred. Eventually, the situation will become intolerable for those who have the resources to take effective action---but unfortunately that will not be for at least 10 years. In the meantime, the best advice we can give is to take your vacations at off times, so hopefully the crowds will be somewhat diminished.
Special thanks to TravelMole.com for raising our consciousness to this important issue. When they asked their thousands of UK and US travel providers whether they considered overtourism to be "a real issue", 57 percent "Yes"., for calling our attention to this new development.
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