Tourism is one of the key economic boosters in any country but as tourism numbers increase yearly, many destinations struggle to cope with the impact of rising numbers of visitors.
Overtourism is real and cities like Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Paris are some of the places that face it.
According to a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council and commercial real estate firm JLL, 20 more cities are on alert lest they turn into the future face of the problem.
Titled “Destination 2030”, the report studies the tourism “readiness” of 50 destinations around the world and groups cities into five types.
The “Emerging performers” category includes destinations where infrastructure and tourism momentum are growing along with the pressures associated with more tourists.
These cities are Bangkok, Cape Town, Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul, Jakarta, Mexico City and New Dehli.
Destinations like Auckland, Berlin, Dublin, Las Vegas, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, New York, Seoul, Seville and Sydney falls into the “mature performers” category.
They are described as having an established tourism infrastructure, strong leisure or business travel and good positioning to manage current growth levels.
“But there is a risk of future strains related to visit volume, infrastructure or activity that is testing readiness for additional growth,” the report said.
“Over the past years…several destinations, and cities in particular, have been criticised in the media for the under-management of travel and tourism and the stresses that visitor numbers have put on urban systems and residents.”
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Prague, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Toronto and Vancouver falls into the “managing momentum” type and is described as having established tourism infrastructure and urban readiness but heavy leisure travel volume “with potential to cause strain on the city.”
Lauro Ferroni, LL’s global head of hotels and hospitality research said, “Those cities are the ones that are going to start focusing less on attracting a whole lot of new visitors.”
Instead, they have to shift their focus to dispersing crowds throughout their city and encouraging visitors to come at off-peak times.
“Dawning developers” are experiencing less pressure with an emerging tourism infrastructure, experiencing gradual tourism growth and lower visitor concentration.
Bogota, Bueno Aires, Cairo, Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur, Lima, Manila, Moscow, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Riyadh still have the potential to grow, based on the report.
The “dawning” and “emerging” cities generally have a less advanced approach to tourism policy, without official positions on regulating home-sharing or specific mentions of tourism in economic plans.
“Those are areas we would encourage them to focus on as they become increasingly popular,” Ferroni said.
Cities with an established infrastructure for visitors, a larger-than-average share of business travellers and room to grow comfortably fall under the “balanced dynamics” category.
They are Beijing, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Munich, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington.
The World Tourism Organisation, an agency of the United Nations, said that last year, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals around the world.
That total represented a six per cent increase over the previous year, and arrivals were expected to grow another three per cent to four per cent this year.
Last year, a European Union report identified 105 destinations in some state of overtourism.
And Responsible Travel, a UK-based travel company, put together an overtourism map that includes 98 destinations across 63 countries.
Justin Francis, CEO and co-founder of Responsible Travel, says overtourism has only recently become an issue as travel numbers continue to rise.
“Very few destinations even have tourism planning, let alone have figured out how to solve the problem,” he says. “I think it’s a crisis.” -/TISG