It’s no secret that visitor overcrowding and the effects of mass tourism have led to an outcry that popular destinations are losing their authenticity and the much-needed support of locals. Longstanding grievances at ‘invasions’ of visitors escalated this summer across popular European cities into angry protests, searing public graffiti, and even violent confrontations. The resident backlash has been particularly dramatic in highly popular locations such as Barcelona and Venice, yet the phenomenal growth of mass tourism when left unchecked is negatively impacting travel destinations and in turn travel experiences across the globe. Boutique towns and internationally renowned cities are feeling the strain, but so too are ‘Instagrammable’ natural wonders and wilderness areas like Yellowstone National Park, fragile Icelandic ecosystems, and previously pristine Thai beaches. It’s clear the plethora of pain points to the popularity of destinations and the increasing volume of visitors when tourism is mismanaged. Far from being contained to a quickly forgotten news cycle, these situations simmer and flare while posing a direct business risk to tourist destinations that are ultimately preventable. Under pressure, many organisations fall back into short-sighted strategies that lock them into patterns of reactivity rather than effective, flexible change management. For key destinations most strongly associated with resident backlash and overcrowding, it’s important to be reminded of the staggering scale of these visitation increases. Credit: Destination Think.
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