A tourist provides an incredible economic boost to the places they visit. Sometime with their best intentions, tourism can lead to harmful effects to the local environment. Of course, this isn’t news as many headlines have noted the concern of overtourism. Unfortunately, very few places (cities, historical sites, national parks, and the list goes on) are immune. The question is is it possible to visit a place without changing it?
To Visit or Not?
It is our human nature to explore this planet. In deciding to visit a particular site or country, might determine whether there will be any lasting effect and if these places will remain available to others in the future. The conversations that you have with others, the recommended places, the off-the-beaten path locations, and the most popular sites to see can determine whether more people return in your wake. Please keep in mind the footprints you leave when deciding to visit.
According to the Word Atlas, over tourism is generally defined as a situation whereby too many tourists visit a particular destination. In fact, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), estimates that the number of tourists visiting other countries is set to grow by about 3.3% annually for the next 20 years, to annual arrival rate of 1.8 billion over the next decade. These statistics makes overtourism inevitable in certain places with varying contributing factors vary from place to place. Such issues with overtourism include traffic congestions, significant overcrowding at landmarks or sites, and environmental degradation. One of the main concerns of too many visitors, is that this phenomenon can devalue cultural treasures or natural wonders of a place.
This fine line of wishing for more tourism for economic reason while limiting visitors to certain historical sites is being faced by many governments. Governments have begun to understand the impact of too many tourists and have started to set limits on visitors such as Machu Picchu and Everest Base Camp. Such cities as Amsterdam with a population of around 1 million and some 15 million visitors per year, are starting to consider ways to manage too many visitors. The city of Dubrovnik in Croatia has been forced to limit the number of daily visitors into the city’s center at 4,000. Other cities that are experiencing the impact of overtourism include Paris , Berlin , and Copenhagen.
A Potential Solutions
It is responsible tourism that is only remedy for this issue of overtourism. If you choose to visit certain places, consider the off-peak season or visiting alternative destinations during peak season. If you find yourself (as a tourist) in crowded places, please be sure that impact of visiting the destination is not a negative one. I recommend supporting sustainable tourism efforts this includes learning about the local life and cultural practices.
I know traveling changes us making us world citizens. It is not often we often think of the impact that we make in visiting the places in our desire to see the world. This blog post is not suggesting that one stops traveling. Instead, the goal is to limit the changes that your visit will cause. It isn’t possible to visit somewhere without leaving a footprint.
Consider how your travels have changed the world instead of just how it has changed you?
Consider such responsible tour agencies as Intrepid and Gadventures . These agencies will focus on local life and culture limiting the impact of visitors. You travel the local way eating and sleeping the way locals do. I choose these agencies because of their use of local tour guides for tourists. You learn from a local resident about life in the country you visit.
Continue to explore our great planet in the coming year and the new decade of 2020.