Mass Tourism Is At A Tipping Point

Mass Tourism Is At A Tipping Point.

At the end of the summer season, various travel destinations in Europe witnessed something unusual – locals opposing the crowds of tourists. Angry signs appeared on the buildings in Spanish Mallorca, saying “Tourists, go home” and “Tourists, you terrorists!” Tourism experts identified two main reasons why the flow of tourists has become excessive and uncontrollable in Europe in the recent months. Firstly, many preferred European resorts as a result of terrorist attacks in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. But Europe was not ready for such an influx. Secondly, authorities feel threatened by the increasingly popular booking website Airbnb. Usually, travel destinations cannot accept more guests than is the number of hotel beds in the given city. But with Airbnb, the rooms of locals are added, making the overall number immense. Therefore, for example, from 1 May 2016, Berlin residents are forbidden to offer their apartments on Airbnb. A high penalty awaits anyone who violates the measure – 100 thousand euros.

So why is mass tourism so harmful? It would seem that the main aim of the visitors is sightseeing or just enjoying the beach. However, experts of the United Nations Environment Programme outlined several negative environmental, economic and socio-cultural impacts of mass tourism. In terms of ecological harm, tourism boosts the depletion processes of water, fuel, food, and forests in the travel destinations. There is obviously pollution, emissions, noise, waste. In terms of economy, there is a great risk of revenue leakages. 70% of all money spent by tourists in developing countries eventually goes into the pocket of international companies – airlines, hotels, importers of beverages and food, not to local businesses. When it comes to infrastructure, local authorities often allocate funds for the development of airports, roads, but neglect more important areas and issues. Other than that local residents are affected by the price jumps connected with mass tourism inflow, as their income does not increase proportionately. Another risky factor is the dependence on tourism. Over-reliance on tourism entails significant risks. For example, a structural change in tourism can have a devastating impact on the local economy of the travel destinations and leave a large number of people unemployed. In the socio-cultural sphere tourism can cause change or loss of local identity and values. High inflow of tourists also increases the risk of culture clashing. In addition to that, when visitors do not respect local customs, conflicts can arise. Credit: Tourism Review.

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