Overtourism: Why We All Have to Cease Going to the Identical Locations

There’s been a little bit of a debate within the journey group on the damaging results of tourism lately (see these articles at Skilled Vagabond and Nomadic Matt, amongst others). I assumed I’d pitch in with my 2 cents value.

As a frequent traveler, I’ve had the privilege to go to some locations greater than as soon as. However reconnecting with locations I already know and love is usually a heart-aching expertise typically, when it seems they quickly devolved into swarming vacationer traps in only a matter of years.

This can be a drawback the world is slowly waking as much as. From Venice to Dubrovnik and from Krabi Seaside to Angkor Wat, the issue of overcrowding is having extra folks involved.

I usually battle with this concern. On the one hand, I feel it’s superb that extra folks can journey. Sure sorts of journey might be instructional and break down obstacles between cultures. Alternatively, when the recognition of locations explodes past their cheap capability, it turns into an actual drawback.

This isn’t a problem we will all simply want away. With air journey turning into ever extra accessible, and a rising center class in rising economies (significantly China) absolutely fueling tourism development for many years to return, the pressures of tourism should not going to subside.

(At the least, not till we stay in a world of worldwide inhabitants decline, which in response to the UN most likely gained’t occur this century.)

So, with increasingly more folks touring, and increasingly more locations filling up, what are we to do?

Now we have to unfold tourism round

There’s just one logical resolution to this drawback: we’ve to unfold tourism round as a lot as we will. That will appear apparent, however not everybody agrees.

When I attempt to promote less-popular locations, I’m typically accused of spoiling them. However what’s the choice? The favored locations are absolutely fashionable sufficient already. Spreading tourism round is the least dangerous possibility we’ve; it might a minimum of assist distribute each the advantages and the burdens of tourism extra equally.

There’s only one drawback: It usually appears the journey tradition goes in the wrong way. We’re not spreading round however simply concentrating in a couple of locations.

Social media could have performed a task provided that all the pieces has to look good on Instagram nowadays. An obscure off-the-beaten-path place simply isn’t going to play as effectively on-line as that image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or that image of Cristo Redentor. It’s as if we’ve turn out to be selfie-seeking little magpies, solely searching for shiny trending locations that look good on social media.

Everybody appears obsessive about solely probably the most immediately recognizable and iconic locations. However for journey to be in any means sustainable sooner or later, I feel we have to change that mindset.

The issue with social media

It’s usually claimed that Millennials are much less materialistic than earlier generations. I do suppose it’s true that many people need extra experiences over possessions, however that doesn’t imply we all of a sudden care any much less about standing.

These experiences we crave? We nonetheless wish to make it possible for everybody rattling effectively is aware of we’re having them.

As an alternative of competing over who has probably the most possessions, we’re now competing over who had probably the most Instagrammable brunch this weekend or who went to Machu Picchu solely to try this identical freaking yoga pose that everybody else does.

I feel Justin Francis of Accountable Journey hits the nail on the pinnacle in a latest NYTimes article on overtourism:

“Seventy-five years in the past, tourism was about expertise in search of. Now it’s about utilizing pictures and social media to construct a private model. In a way, for lots of people, the pictures you tackle a visit turn out to be extra vital than the expertise.”

I feel this perspective not solely misses the entire level of touring, but it surely additionally feeds overtourism. Everybody finally ends up going to the identical well-known locations doing the identical issues.

It’s a relentless suggestions loop that may find yourself ruining some areas. The one approach to break it? Cease caring a lot about how our travelling appears to be like and care extra concerning the true experiences we’re having—and to take an opportunity on one thing new.


The problem for influencers

Bloggers and different so-called influencers can play a task in mitigating the damaging results of tourism. But it surely’s a task that additionally extends to all vacationers as a result of social media has turned all of us into influencers indirectly.

I might like to encourage extra folks to journey otherwise. However I’ve usually discovered it extraordinarily difficult to attract consideration to issues that aren’t already a part of the supposed Prime 10 Issues to Do. (It’s one thing I’ve lamented earlier than).

Once I take a look at search key phrase statistics, the recognition of posts on social media, and even on-page statistics by myself weblog, I’ve to conclude that most individuals solely simply care about the preferred vacationer areas.

Possibly that’s the Instagram impact. Or perhaps it’s simply at all times been that means: I suppose that when you have restricted time to journey and you’ve got perhaps simply two weeks to spend in a rustic, you don’t wish to take too many probabilities.

However I want we might change that and break our dependancy to solely probably the most normal itineraries and hottest issues to do.

I used to be lately on Sao Jorge, an island within the Azores that only a few folks appear to go to. (Most individuals go to the largest island of Sao Miguel.) In keeping with TripAdvisor, there most likely isn’t that a lot to do on Sao Jorge, however for me this island was a pleasure to find. It’s stuffed with charming coastal villages the place you’ll be able to simply have recent seafood or bounce from the docks into the ocean for a little bit swim. It has some superb hikes with paths main down gnarly cliffs and previous lovely waterfalls.

However regardless of these qualities, I suppose nothing about Sao Jorge is actually iconic or a one-of-a-kind. It’s not as Instagrammable because the turquoise lagoons of Tahiti or the eyes of the Mona Lisa. However Sao Jorge is good. It’s satisfying. It could not lend itself fairly as effectively to listicles or hashtags, but it surely’s an exquisite but humble place. It’s the sort of place that deserves to not get missed.

With this in thoughts, I’d wish to recommend the next ways in which vacationers can maybe make a distinction:

  • Dare to go to much less acquainted locations. For instance, Thailand doesn’t really want extra vacationers, however Armenia might most likely use a couple of extra.
  • Seek for different areas. Resist typing solely “high locations to go to” into engines like google. Search for different, quirky, off-the-beaten-path, native, and so forth.
  • Go to web page 10 on Google typically. There’s a lot of superb stuff there that most individuals don’t see!
  • Cease fawning over those self same outdated pics. Who cares concerning the umpteenth particular person to do a yoga pose at Machu Picchu? We should always deal with this because the lamest and most normcore factor to do. Share extra concerning the folks we’ve met or the attention-grabbing experiences we’ve had.
  • Choose up your trash. Be respectful to native cultures and promote good journey.
  • Go to within the shoulder season when the climate continues to be good, however crowds are fewer.

I even have ideas for journey bloggers, YouTubers, and anybody with any sort of social media affect. (Sure, I’m partly preaching to myself right here):

  • Promote different locations. Don’t at all times go for the utmost anticipated pageviews. Do good by giving new locations an opportunity.
  • Be sincere about overvisited ones. Some locations might sound compulsory to say however be sincere if locations get overcrowded. Some vacationers would possibly wish to give them a move.
  • Point out your enjoyable favorites first! Flip issues on their head and begin your high 20 listicle together with your bizarre little discoveries. Go away the tried and true towards the underside.
  • Do defend fragile locations. Whereas I feel it’s good to unfold tourism round, some stuff you nonetheless would possibly wish to preserve underneath your hat. This 12 months, I didn’t point out a small riverside city in Laos that may be reached solely by boat, regardless of being a favourite of mine. 50,000+ folks learn my posts about Laos annually, and I didn’t really feel that tiny village with poor infrastructure was fairly prepared for the highlight.

Lastly, I want we might get previous the intuition of simply going via the checklist of Locations to See in ascending order. If we will genuinely admire the off-the-beaten observe (and never simply say we do!), I feel on stability it’s going to have a optimistic impression.

Is it hopelessly naive for me to anticipate this to vary? Possibly. Then once more, we used to make enjoyable of Chinese language vacationers solely ever transferring in enormous teams on organized excursions, and now I’m seeing many Chinese language vacationers touring independently armed with journey information apps and Google Translate.

The journey tradition is at all times altering. Possibly we will nonetheless change it for the higher.

Header picture credit score: Grasp Meang Khou