5 industry solutions to overtourism

Arrivals by international tourists have virtually doubled since the year 2000, with 1.2 billion travellers crossing borders for leisure in 2016.

Overtourism is by no means a silly fad, it’s a very real threat to the travel industry as we know it.

Related: What overtourism means for the industry.

And now, US travel trade publication, Skift, has created a framework for how the industry could potentially address the overwhelming issue that all these global tourists are presenting to the world’s most fragile and sought-after attractions.

Drawing from what certain destinations have successfully implemented to slow and limit the influx of tourists, Skift has identified way responses the industry would be wise to take note of.

Let’s take a little peek at some of their solutions, and if you want to read their comprehensive framework, you’ll find the full article on Skift here.

1. Limiting transportation options

More flights, global cruise access, and the expansion of Low Cost Carriers means the world has never been so open to tourists.

Per Skift, the CEO of European Tour Operators Association, Tom Jenkins, said tourism is “not normal”.

“Cities are designed for tourism to disrupt normal activity,” he said. “When you get foreigners arriving somewhere exerting financial influence over supply, you get a phobia.”

Skift suggests making it more difficult to access destinations, by limiting cruise ship tenders or access of LCCs to airport terminals, hence less visitors can enter.

Earlier this year, the Mayor of Dubrovnik put his foot down when he announced he would be limiting the number of cruise lines coming into the city, and tourists entering the historical Old Town.

Citing the maximum recommendation of 8000 people entering Dubrovnik’s walls each day, the mayor said they would be cutting it to just 4000.

He also insisted he’d be cutting cruise ship arrivals in peak times of weekends, limiting numbers of passengers allowed into the town at any one time, and imposing restrictions on local tour operators as well.

Intrepid Travel’s co-founder Darrell Wade, told Travel Weekly that tourist taxes is one alternative to preserving destinations.

“Maybe the cruise passengers should be paying a port tax of $50 a person as well so that they leave some value behind for the town they are visiting?” he suggested.

2. Making it more expensive

Skift explained Iceland tourism officials said the best way to slow growth is to create more luxury offerings targeting the high-rolling travellers.

The luxury tour operators and cruise lines are, in their words, “better positioned to provide experiences outside of the traditional tourist areas in a destination”.

3. Better marketing and education

As Skift explained, many destinations haven’t worked out how to keep tourists from wrecking their cities, and the same goes for tour companies educating travellers on what they’re buying into.

They use the example of London, which has laid out a plane for the next 10 years to manage tourism growth, marketing outer regions like downtown and Westminster. New York’s also done the same with plans to take tourism into Brooklyn.

Wade told TW, “New York is a huge city and has very large capacity for tourism if managed properly.

“But when certain demand bubbles emerge then it creates stress points even in a city as large as New York.”

Wade added that education of places beyond the typical tourist traps is essential.

Related: Darrell Wade talks overtourism with TW.

“Croatia is not a small country, with hundreds of beautiful islands and fantastic towns. So why is it that 90 per cent of tourists go to Dubrovnik?” he asked.

4. Better collaboration among stakeholders

Instead of tourism boards purely being responsible for promoting tourism, Skift claimed they should collaborate better with stakeholders to ensure they’re also planning and managing tourism.

Speaking to Skift, Megan Epler Wood, Director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, said it’s about measuring the impacts of tourism itself.

“It’s well-known tourists want to go to specific places at certain times, so we have to think of other ways of managing their use [of destinations],” she said.

Citing a local initiative, Skift talked about Tasmania and how they offer travellers free smartphones to track their movements and better understand traveller behaviour.

Another approach, Intrepid’s Wade told TW, is to think about what people really want when they travel, and then building products around that.

“Customers are not stupid and rather than regurgitate the same tired old icons we need to create products that we are proud of.

“Overtourism is everyone’s problem. Agents, tour operators, cruise ship operators, CEOs, travellers, local communities and government all have roles to play.”

5. Protect overcrowded areas

“It takes a lot of work and very quickly these smaller communities can be overrun, much quicker than a city like Barcelona,” G Adventures Vice President of Buying and Contracting, Yves Marceau, told Skift.

Having detailed future-proofing plans to really rein in tourism, like the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu, is something that needs addressing if cities are to cope with heavy influxes of tourists.

Intrepid’s Wade told TW of a somewhat controversial solution he’d come up with.

“Most of the industry disagrees with me, but I think taxation has a significant role to play,” he revealed.

“If there was a $50 a night city bed tax in hotspots like Venice, Barcelona and Split, then tourist numbers would start to fall away a little, locals would start to be able to live in their cities again, and balance would start to be restored.”


One response to “5 industry solutions to overtourism”

  1. Taxation or increasing prices does not work as a tourist and visitor deterrent – ask the operators of some of the word leading tourism attractions and sites who have doe that and all these actions do is increase popularity and pressure. The only thing that works in reducing visitation to tourism honey pots and preserve the very thing people come to see in the first place and ensure that these sights will be there for future generations, and also provide a quality visit, is strictly controlling access – that is only so many tickets a day are available to go there or in to a location and no more! That is there is a certain daily allocation and you have to book ahead – if you have not booked ahed then you can’t go – simple! I worked for The National Trust in the UK in this space and every time we increased prices aimed at reducing visitation, it boomed! The only thing that worked was restricting access and having a certain daily allocation of pre-booked and timed tickets.

Leave a Reply


Tourists stranded as Europe’s rivers continue to drop

Water levels across Europe’s rivers continue to plague cruise operators with reports of marooned boats on the Doubs River.




Midweek Interview

Midweek catch-up with Italian hotelier Gai Quartucci

This week, we sat down with Gai Quartucci, global sales and marketing director for part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world group.



Travel Agents

Malaysia Airlines launches free trip incentive for agents

This incentive is like a buy one, get one free, except instead of buying something, you’ve got to sell airfares… which is likely your job anyway so win-win.




Ennismore to bring four new lifestyle hotels to NZ

Accor’s quirky stepchild is spreading its wings across the Pacific with four new signings in New Zealand.




Missed the Visit USA Expos? Fear not, we’ve got your biggest questions covered.

by sponsored by Visit USA Australia

No more FOMO! These hot tips will get you in top-tip shape to visit the USA.




Jetstar launches Sunny Coast sale with fares cheaper than a tank of petrol

With prices this low, Jetstar will have to steal Bunnings’ famous tagline. Hopefully they’ll start hosting sausage sizzles as well.




Hotel Review: La Sultana is an oasis among the chaos of Marrakech

by Nancy Hromin

A peaceful hideaway right in the centre of the Medina’s hustle and bustle, La Sultana is an oasis among the chaos of Marrakech – a chaos we absolutely loved.




Aussie travel start-up Ok Away partners with Air Doctor

While it is a cool name, Ok Away also sounds like a good way to end a sentence with someone you wish would leave you alone.




“It’s a shocking insult”: Qantas slammed for asking execs to work as baggage handlers

The bags on your next flight may be handled by Alan Joyce, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your confidence in his ability to fling around 30 kg bags.




Travellers warned over bomb threats against Moldova’s international airport

The government’s travel alert website is advising Aussies to reconsider their need to travel to Moldova, which, given the bomb threats, is probably sound advice.




Intrepid launches citizen science programs in Antarctica

Believe it or not, there is more than one program about understanding phytoplankton (which are a lot more important than you would think)!




IHG celebrates 60 years with big surprises + Tim Tam cake

The brand is celebrating its Diamond anniversary with a series of events and surprises for guests, but honestly, they had us at “Tim Tam”.