Reactions to Overtourism Featured Pattern: P1432 December 2019

Author: Rory Marrast (Send us feedback.)

Tourism is increasing to the extent that many countries are beginning to view it as a problem.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

According to the United Nations (New York, New York) World Tourism Organization (Madrid, Spain), overtourism—a condition in which the presence of a large number of tourists at a destination causes overcrowding and negatively affects locals—is becoming a global concern. Countries that previously embraced tourism because of the revenue it generates are starting to manage tourist populations proactively. Norway is one country that is currently conflicted about soaring tourism rates. Many Norwegian citizens view overtourism as a threat to their constitutional right of allemannsretten—the freedom to roam. According to this policy, people have the right to walk though and camp for one night in any undeveloped property without the owner's permission as long as they are polite; however, during the past several years, multiple communities in Norway have experienced increases in littering and other negative effects from large numbers of tourists. The government of Norway is spending almost $37 million on sustainable tourism, investing in building new trails and fortifying existing trails to accommodate visitors and protect heritage sites.

Some Asian countries are also experiencing an onslaught of tourists. For example, in Thailand, the government has banned tourists from Maya Bay in the Phi Phi Islands to protect the surrounding coral. Maya Bay was the location of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach and therefore attracts many travelers. Despite the drawbacks of tourism, many governments still view tourism as a significant contributor to GDP and seek to continue profiting from it. In Japan, "goals set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016 peg foreign tourist arrivals at 40 million in 2020, and 60 million in 2030." But catering to so many tourists may come at the cost of the comfort of locals. For example, some Japanese citizens believe that the influx of tourists is having an impact on their culture and negatively affecting some businesses.

The Netherlands also perceives the excessive influx of tourists as a problem, and its board of tourism is now refraining from actively promoting tourism to the country. The board has shifted its focus to redistributing the tourists the country already has to lessen their impact.