The Issue of Over Tourism

It’s that time of year when many folks are heading off on a much anticipated holiday.

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, a chance to escape the coolish winter months.  In the Northern Hemisphere, a warmer posse to glean more sun rays.  Whatever the reason they all require using some form of transportation and with many travelling to a tourist hotspot.

Next comes the impact of that travel on specific popular destinations.

In the world news, there have been quite shocking images of the ques of mountainers dying while waiting in line near the summit of Mt Everest for their chance to tick off another mountain. It turns out this is as much down to the greed of the Nepalese tourist operators as it is to the nativity of the climbers attempting the ascent.

How far would you go to tick another place off your “Bucket List”?.

The issue of tourism then prompted me to think closer to home and the area we are housesitting in which overlooks the foreshore on the Thames Coromandel.  It also happens to be in an area that is subjected to hordes of visitors during a long weekend and the even longer summer months.

Some would conclude that this area too is subjected to over tourism without having the infrastructure to cope in the high season.

Overtourism is a word that has been bandied about for the last few years by the tourism trade and many locals. What does it mean?  What can we do about it?

What does it actually mean?

According to the Responsible Tourism Partnership, it describes over tourism as “destinations where hosts or guest, locals and visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably”.

Think Milford Track during the summer months or the Tongariro Crossing during January.  Venice during August. There are many more that I am sure we can all think of that we have visited and are now choosing not to revisit during the same period as before.

Where is it occurring in the world?

One of the areas I mentioned above was the biggest shocker for me, and that was Mt Everest.  Like most people, I knew it was a popular destination for many adventurists to tick that mountain off their list.  What I didn’t realise was how many people are dying in the pursuit of doing so.

It is happening in areas where we are pushed to believe is the place to tick off your “bucket list”, you know the big-name, heavy hitters. Most of us have either been to already or probably want to go because those are the ones that are commercialised and all over the social media.

The more popular destinations that have seen considerable increases in visitor numbers way beyond the coping capacity of their infrastructure.

What is being done about it?

Milford Sound
Milford Track

With the spotlight as in the media focussing on Mt Everest, I am hoping that tour guides will become more accountable and be certified in taking groups mountaineering.  A limit of people on the mountain at any given time.

Limiting people was one way for Dubrovnik to curtail it’s growing popularity and also a way in which it was too keep it’s World Heritage status as UNESCO threatened to remove it due to the number of visitors that the city was allowing through the Old Town gates.  This year only 4000 people a day are allowed to enter.  Still seems a considerable amount of people.  So, don’t expect to have a view to yourself for more than a few moments.

Dubrovnik isn’t alone in changing how it deals with it’s visitors.  Edinburgh has introduced tourist taxes.  Venice is banning cruise ships from mooring in the harbour.  A few places in Thailand have stopped tourists from entering at all, for example, Koh Phi and Maya Bay.

Amsterdam, a place where the Squire and I have been a couple of times, this city has now switched from seeking tourists via promotion to focussing on the ones that are arriving using destination management.  In other words, it is not seeking further tourists and just trying to deal with the ones that are visiting.

What can we do about it?

Italy Siena

It isn’t about stopping travelling to other parts of the world. What does it mean? We need to be smarter and more informed.

Want to visit places that are usually overcrowded?  Think of visiting during the off-season.  The Coromandel, as a good example, is still a beautiful scenic place to explore and capture 180 deg ocean views.  Though of course, unless you are brave, the waters will not be as warm as the more busier summer months.  Swap that with a cafe visit and a bush hike or a beach stroll.  Visiting during the off-season will help spread the tourism burden more evenly.

When you do arrive at your chosen destination, think “local”.  Buy local produce, use local guides and their local knowledge.  Use local hotels, Airbnb, Bed and Breakfast perhaps not as cheap as the big chain hotels though it will give you more of a local feel staying with people who have a personal investment in their communities.  One of the reasons why we love and are still enjoying housesitting.

Another issue is respecting the locals and their environment and behave accordingly.  That includes awareness of any cultural sensitivities, such as the way you should dress or behave in places of religious and cultural significance.

One of the ways how we handled avoiding the more overcrowded tourism spots was to choose places, cities, towns, beaches that were near the more popularised areas. They landed up being just as beautiful and historical without the crowds.  Think Northern France as opposed to Southern France. Cadiz instead of revisiting Barcelona.  In New Zealand, local hikes instead of the more overcrowded tourist traps like the Milford Track.

It is a privilege to travel, so hopefully, those that do won’t take it for granted.

If you look more in-depth, you will always find an alternative destination to those ones that are overexposed.  Keep having fun exploring our wonderful weird world perhaps just think outside the tourism square when planning your next holiday.


49 thoughts on “The Issue of Over Tourism”

  1. I’ve been reading lately about cities where being overtouristed means that locals are getting squeezed out by Air B&B-type rentals, so the real cities–the ones people come to see–are in danger of dying. Venice. Bruges. Barcelona. There’s more money to be made in short-term rentals than in year-round ones.

    And for whatever it’s worth, I hate the idea of having a bucket list. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I try and choose less popular destinations.. I did pop in to Warsaw on my way home and found it quite crowdy.. I think Everest can be blamed on local and international tour operators alike.. and the people who want the bucket list tick.. A sad reality of modern man.. ;-(

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous photos as always Suz and I so agree with you about it being a privilege to travel. These days we tend to travel to see people more then things but also go out of the high season. It’s terrible what’s happening in some places and I totally get your point about over tourism. A very interesting and thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Suzanne, So true about the shocking images near the summit of Everest. Staying informed, awareness, being smarter, all good concepts when going forward. As you said well, it is a privilege to travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. An important topic, Suzanne. Thanks for bringing it up. You won’t think anyone would enjoy being lined up for hikes and standing in line for hours at amusement parks or historic sites. Yet, people do. Just like they sit in traffic jams on the way to work.

    It boggles my mind and reason would tell us this problem will solve itself as tourists prefer and decide to frequent less popular areas. But, this won’t happen easily, by the looks and sounds of it.

    Personally, we never go anywhere to “check it off” and don’t have a bucket list. The world has a lot of amazing places!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liesbet, I was thinking the same as I watched people lining up to go up a tower in Barcelona in 36 degs with many not wearing hats, crazy.

      We have never had a bucket list we have a few things we would like and next month we will be doing one of those things. No time to wait. By the way I was not blessed with the patience gene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good points,Sue. Our tourism operators wring their hands everytime a tourist tax is suggested but many places we go to overseas have them and it doesn’t stop us visiting. Instead we’re glad to contribute to the local economy and help compensate for the impact we have on their place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for you comment Wendy and apologies for the late reply.
      Hopefully the tax that is generated from tourists/visitors stays in the local area instead of placed in the main funding source.
      What is a worry is that NZ beginning to place an importance of gaining more revenue from tourism. This usually occurs in third world countries. Let’s hope NZ creates a more sustainable revenue than from tourism.


  7. Beautiful pics, Suzanne! This is such a huge issue as you describe. I worked and now teach in recreation and tourism industry, and many destinations are being ruined by tourism. Some places have sold out for the big bucks and have lost the very charm and uniqueness that enticed tourists in the first place! Your idea of going “local” is important. Simply renting a car from a local company or staying at a local hotel is so much better because you help their economy. We’ve done this in Hilo, on Hawaii’s big island and ended up getting discounts. The entitled tourists in any situation, many known as “ugly Americans” is ridiculous. I like to blend in and meet people. Great post and timely as more people are traveling abroad more so than ever before.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Living in a tourist town myself, I have watched it go from seasonal to year-round visitation. It isn’t to the point of quite over tourism yet – but there are four new hotels under construction (and a few built in recent years). This is a town of about 17k people! And in nearby Utah, I can’t even consider making a return visit to Arches National Park. All year it is chock full of people. Fortunately, there are many equally stunning landscapes in the state that have no people at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amusing that you get a holiday to celebrate the Queen’s (official) birthday and we don’t!
    As for tourism, living only 3 miles from the popular St Ives we actually don’t go to the town at all between July and October as there is nowhere to park! Our narrow roads are packed. Traffic grinds to a halt on the one and only major road through Cornwall (A30) and we tend to stay at home other than visiting the library and supermarket during these months. Luckily we can visit the lovely beaches any time of the year, weather permitting, and Saturday change over days are usually quieter (though not on the roads!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is strange that the UK doesn’t enjoy a day off for the Queen’s unofficial birthday! I do remember how busy Cornwall gets during the summer months. Those roads are hard to drive around let alone without the crowds.
      Parking seems to be a universe problem with no easy solution [public transport???]. The person who remedies that issue will be hailed as the new messiah [slight exaggeration].

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Public transport is abysmal in the countryside. We have to walk a couple of miles to a bus stop and on roads with no pavement so it is not going to happen. And taxis are expensive.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s a conundrum and one that worries me too. Many countries need the money tourists bring in but don’t necessarily have the facilities to cope with a vast increase in numbers. Many people like to travel (I include me of course) but don’t want to be surrounded by crowds – all of whom like to travel and have just as much right to be there! Maybe global warming means we’ll all have to stay put soon anyway – sorry, that’s even more doomy, i’ll stop now!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The issue of over tourism is one of those that is timely, and one of those distinctions that I find myself wondering why it didn’t occur to me until relatively recently. Thank you for your insights into it here. Going to places off season is a good option, as is traveling locally. I guess it’s all part of our need to move towards living more mindfully in all aspects of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. I agree travelling locally will help support our own economies. For those of us who love to travel more extensively perhaps now we should do so with more regard to the environment and locals.


  12. A great post Suzanne and we’ve been feeling the impact of over-tourism in some parts of the Highlands, such as the isle of Skye. Some remote parts have appeared in films or series such as Game of Thrones and then everyone wants to visit without the infrastructure being available. Some villages are only accessible via a single track and the locals can’t get to work or run errands because the tourists block the road. There’s long been talk of charging tourist tax to help improve the infrastructure and of course asking visitors to be respectful of the people who live here. Personally, we only travel locally and always manage to find somewhere quiet. We would welcome a greater balance when it comes to film or tv series locations becoming hotspots and better planning in limiting the amount of visitors.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much Xenia. We did experience the surge of tourists heading over to the Isle of Skye, the journey was just as picturesque as the destination! It is going to be hard for many economies that rely on tourism to get the right balance between keeping locals and visitors happy. A tourism tax could be a good idea as long as it was used to improve the infrastructure and not put into the big pot! More pedestrian only streets would be grand here in NZ and overseas.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t travel as such, but I do visit historic sites that attract tourists. Many of these are shut off-season, so I have to fit my visits between (in most cases) April and October. To be honest, I don’t know that I’d want to be in the ruins of a castle in the middle of December.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The first time I went to Old Sarum I think it was just above freezing. That’s OK if you’re walking around, but I like to stop and look and take photos, all of which means getting cold.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Local is where I go now days. My last few trips to Italy have been fly into Rome and depart the same day. I choose to stay in regional areas off the beaten track, usually rent a house or apartment and live the local way. This makes me very happy. Fortunately I have learned enough Italian to get by in these local areas. I now totally avoid the big cities and in fact the heavy tourist locations. But then having said that, of course if I am visiting a country for the first time, I will get a snap shot of the main cities, visit their main attractions and popular destinations. Recently I spent 10 days on the sunshine coast of Qld, what a pleasant vacation as it was not crowded and overrun with tourists. Now days, I consider myself to be a traveller and not a tourist. I feel so blessed that I did in fact visit many countries and major cities before the crowds became overwhelming to me. Great post Suzanne. You have expressed things that are very much on my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lyn, pleased you enjoyed the post. I admire your ability to learn Italian. Myself, I find languages very hard to learn, English is hard enough!! Though I do try my darnest to learn a few words with many hand gestures.

      Spending time in the major cities is what many of us initially do before the transition from tourist to traveller.

      Lyn, you were very fortunate to travel when tourism wasn’t overwhelming. I suppose there does come a time when staying locally as in our own backyard becomes more appealing than long haul travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s definitely become an issue these days, that’s for sure. Personally I try and avoid the crowds and the hotspots and find my own favourite spots. And I do support the concept of shopping and living local. Great post Suzanne.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I always find it fascinating how so many people want to visit the *most* popular spots, rather than find nearby alternatives that are just as nice, but without the crowds. Some people really only want to visit places on an imaginary bucket list, rather than find cool experiences wherever they are…

    I find it a lot here in Canada too. There are 3-4 hikes that are aaaaalways busy at weekends. We only visit those on days off, or during the shoulder season. There are other equally beautiful hikes that always seem empty. It’s easy to discover them online, it’s just most people just follow the heard and go to the obvious options.

    We wanted to do some of the 10 great hikes in NZ, but they were too booked up, so we chose other routes and had an epic holiday! It’s not that hard to find alternatives, even when you’re far from home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I too shake my head at those that want to only visit the most popular spots. I think we all start off doing a few of those then we find the alternative ones when we gain more travel experience. Hence, we love doing housesitting.
      The hikes in NZ, there are so many off the beaten track that people can enjoy as long as they have hiking experience. Even better is to contact a local “tramping group”.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Local is always much more rewarding and memorable. Unique discoveries that will be remembered (and amaze friends as you talk once home)…please don’t feature them on FB – keep quiet spots quiet!
    Use the guide books to show you where not to go?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You beat me to it! I was reading about Mt. Everest this morning and thinking how so many lovely areas are being overrun by not just tourists, but tourists with cell phones angling for the best places to take selfies. In many ways, traveling isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be. I have only been to Europe once, and that was before the huge cruise ships started to bring thousands of people to shore all at once. I’d love to go again but I’m worried that I’d be disappointed because of the throngs. I just don’t remember that being the case when I was there before. Maybe we’ll stick to Mexico… easy for us to get to and, as long as we avoid the coastal resorts and travel off season, we don’t feel crowded. Did you take all the pictures on this post? The photos of Siena (yes, I still want to go there) and Milford Track are beautiful, and the one of the crowd is depressing (but true).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh Janis, don’t be put off going to Europe as there are so many places to visit where the hordes of tourists don’t venture. Going off season and if do get into housesitting you can experience village life.
      I am not sure I will ever get to Mexico though I have always loved the indigenous art of that area.
      Last but not least is NZ where you can walk around on pristine beaches without the crowds, just don’t go near the hotspots. The same goes with hiking.


    1. What a brilliant idea!! There are so many places to see I agree. I have mentioned too others many of our road trips we tend to pick a route and have found some wonderful gems along the way. Can make for a more interesting adventure.


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