Love traveling? Perhaps, you are one of us: a tribe of passionate travel addicts who wander the streets of foreign cities, experiment with weird local dishes and immerse into local cultures.
You may as well be spending all your savings on travel and restlessly planning your next trip at this very moment.
But there`s another side of the coin: tourism can put its strain on destinations, local landscapes, architecture, and communities.
Let`s take a quick look at some of the possible negative impacts:
A rising threat
In recent years, there have been growing concerns about the impacts of overtourism, among other issues.
Imagine overcrowded beaches, churches, and sightseeing sights, as well as outrageously high prices for both tourists and locals.
You don`t have to imagine it. Because it`s already a reality across popular destinations like Barcelona, Paris, Bali, and many others.
Statistics published by Destination Barcelona show that the city had to welcome 30 million overnight visitors in 2017.
“Overtourism stays in the way of daily life, pushing locals outside of the heavily overcrowded touristy areas.”, tells me my friend, Sergie, who was born and raised in Barcelona.
About 45% of the residents living in the area of the main street of La Ramblas, for example, have had to move elsewhere, according to research conducted by Becker and quoted in Saara Taiminen`s MA study.
Additionally, other negative consequences remain hard to avoid: from rising rents and shopping prices to changing product selection (for example, pharmacies are replaced by souvenir shops).
Problems stretch beyond Europe
These concerning tendencies are stretching far beyond the Spanish (and the European) borders.
For instance, the small island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand is reportedly being visited by up to 5,000 people per day, according to Sky News.
The island has turned into a major tourist attraction due to Danny Boyle`s movie The Beach, starred by Leonardo DiCaprio. The result? Researchers have reported some serious environmental damages as 80% of the corals have died.
The widely popular Peruvian Machu Pichu has also registered 1,420,000 visitors in 2016, according to the System of Tourism Statistics of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism.
So, what were the main consequences?
- Lack of capacity and congestion
- Tourists complain about tourists
- Uncivilized behavior
Plus, researchers say that the large number of visitors caused water pollution, as well as damage to the local endemic vegetation. Not to mention the fact the quality of visitor`s experiences has worsened.
Looking for solutions
The United Nations choose 2017 to be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Why? The organization wanted to raise awareness about the importance of more sustainable tourism.
In the next part of our series, we`ll explore the notion of sustainable travel and a few practical tips on how to achieve it.
Because we should keep doing what we love (travel) but with care for the places, we visit. Stay tuned and don`t forget to share your experiences in the comments! 😊