Overtourism – a new term which is being increasingly used

The term Overtourism or Over-tourism was coined in 2012 but hit the headlines in 2017 when there was a backlash from residents in cities such as Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik. Has the balance tipped between travel industry growth and destinations as attractive places to live, work and visit?

A measure of success in the tourism industry has been a year on year increase in the volume of visitors. The expansion of air routes at competitive prices, has resulted in more opportunities to gain travel experiences in a greater variety of places worldwide. There has been an impact on local residents for example in Venice the number of residents has decreased and holiday rentals in general have increased. The sharing economy and escalation in the availability of Airbnb may be seen as fuelling the expansion. However residents are now fighting back saying enough is enough and forcing authorities to address local issues  in both tourist hotspots and fragile rural environments such as Isle of Skye, wilderness areas and national parks.

Overtourism is sometimes simply a case of numbers: there are too many people in a particular place at a particular time. However overtourism can result in a reduction in the quality of life for residents and a negative holiday experience for visitors.

How are destinations taking a more responsible approach and trying to address overtourism and respect the voice of residents? Some destinations are addressing the type of visitor who comes to their resort, city or countryside – cruise ship, backpacking, and luxury seeking visitors. They are seeking a better fit of visitor to the destination and adopting tactics to gain a better spread of tourism during the year.

What other tactics are being tried? Dubrovnik and Santorini for example are being proactive controlling the number of cruise ships coming into the port and increasing docking charges at specific times. Some will control the issue of tourism permits to businesses or adopt a ‘attract and disperse’ policy.

With DMOs such as Venice and Dubrovnik recognising the issues and being much more proactive to manage tourism on behalf of the residents, do British DMOs need to learn the lessons from destinations experiencing overtourism?


CNN  writer Joe  suggests in his article that there are “12 destinations conscious tourists might want to think twice about visiting in 2018” Isle of Skye, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Venice, Santorini, Bhutan, Taj Mahal, Everest Nepal side, Machu Piccu, Galapogos Islands, Cinque Terre Italy, Antarctica.


September 21 2018