Traveling is my passion. I often speak and write about how useful it is to be a wanderer: to open unprecedented horizons, experience new sensations, touch the history of other lands and get acquainted with the culture of distant peoples. The more we learn, the more complete and meaningful life. However, one cannot fail to voice the other side: the consumer attitude to travel. Yes – tourism is useful for human development, but is it useful for those hot spots where millions of foreigners want to spend the weekend? How does it affect tourist-friendly cities and countries? Everything is not as clear as it seems at first glance.
The dark side of travel: overtourism and tourism phobia
“Tourists, go home!”, “Stop foreigners!”, “Tourists – you are terrorists!”, “We do not want tourists!”, “Tourism destroys our city!” … Such and similar inscriptions, graffiti, banners, posters and slogans during mass protests rallied in 2017-2019, Venice, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Mallorca and Ibiza.
Perhaps, if not for these cries of the soul, we, in our travel tunnel of reality, would never even have thought that such a harmless and good deed could have a dark side. Having looked into it, we are faced with the concept of “overtourism” or, as it is interpreted in Russian as “excess tourism”, “supertourism” is too much influx of tourists, which brings more negative consequences than benefits.
Initially, this term was applied exclusively to settlements, denoting how local residents suffer from comers, and as a result the term “tourism phobia” appeared – this is when indigenous people experience psychological discomfort, fear that foreign visitors will destroy their domestic infrastructure, historical and spiritual values. However, the fact of the negative influence of tourists can be traced much further than in cities – many sights and natural locations suffer from crowds of travelers.
A double-edged sword: trick or treat
Tourism brings money, fame, variety and many more small bonuses. The tourism industry provides stable jobs, good salaries and significant income to the state treasury. So why did certain regions and cities decide to abandon this good? Apparently because a calm measured life is more important for them than a wallet.
What the traveler sees on his most often weights:
simplification of visa regimes,
expanding the choice of housing – from inexpensive (hostels, CouchSurfing, discounts in hotels) to luxurious conditions and high-quality service,
the availability of information and navigation thanks to the mobile Internet, here is the lack of an urgent need to know foreign languages,
the growth of a variety of entertainment and outdoor activities,
the popularity of travel topics and the ability to be in trend: learn more about interesting locations and talk about them yourself,
increased competition in tourism, which improves the quality of services and often offers promotions and discounts.
you come across large crowds of tourists, bursts,
high demand leads to more expensive access to attractions
you have to adapt to the conditions of popular locations (for example, in Machu Picchu, they limited the time of stay, in Venice they imposed a tourist tax of up to € 10 / day for staying in the city, and in Rome they forbade sitting on the Spanish Steps, otherwise a fine of € 100 is imposed).
some of the downsides that concern locals.
Another point is the craving of some travelers to popular extreme locations. A striking example of this is Everest, to the top of which last year such a convoy of tourists (there are few who can be called climbers there) stretched that a real traffic jam formed on the ridges of the 8-thousander, for many it was a long queue.
What do locals see on other weights more often:
jobs and good income for the population,
State / City Hall invests in tourism in preserving sights and developing the city,
fame, attention, popularity,
the incentive to become better, more interesting, more diverse,
broadening one’s horizons and communicating with representatives of different cultures and peoples without leaving home.
orientation of the city to the needs of tourists, not local residents,
crowding out by visitors of the central regions and the old part of the city,
pandemonium, traffic jams, lines, round-the-clock noise on the streets, a lot of garbage, crime is becoming more frequent,
the dominance of recreational areas (parks, beaches) and sacred places (temples and locations for spiritual practices) that have come in large numbers because of which local people cannot retire, relax and relax,
a large load on communications and infrastructure (in some cities the number of tourists exceeds the population of the city by 5-10 times),
rise in price of life for locals (prices increase per tourist, but they also hit the wallet of locals).
damage to the local ecosystem (mainly related to natural attractions),
barbarism, destruction of attractions, their identity is erased, cities lose their charm.