With The Continent suffering from “overtourism”, holidaymakers are being advised to seek out new summer destinations.
Venice, Dubrovnik, Paris, Barcelona… if you’re one of the millions checking out these European landmarks this summer, be prepared for a not-so-warm welcome from frustrated locals.
These historic cities and more are suffering from ‘overtourism’, a term used to describe how temporary visitors negatively affect local residents’ quality of life.
Tourism generates vast revenue, creates employment opportunities and helps better understand countries’ cultural, geographical and historical aspects — but the huge popularity of hot spots like Santorini and Amsterdam has lead to locals upset about the noise and physical impact on their cities.
Australian tourists should “absolutely” take overtourism into account when planning a European summer vacation, Dr David Beirman told 10 daily.
“If you go in July and August — peak months — the place is crawling with tourists,” the University Of Technology Sydney’s senior tourism lecturer said.
“It somewhat detracts from the experience of going there.”
Thousands of Venetians recently took to the streets to complain about cruise ships entering and damaging the city’s famed canals, like last week’s incident where a cruise ship crashed.
While Venice is home to only 55,000 permanent residents, some 20 million tourists visit each year. In summer, the number hits 120,000 people daily.
“In Venice, there’s thought now to adding surcharges to any transport that goes in there, for hotels and for tour guides,” Beirman said.
“The cost of living has been jacked up, and accommodation for tourists is taking precedence over locals. That has a huge impact on housing and rents.”
Game Of Thrones fans have visited Dubrovnik, Croatia in droves since it was revealed the Medieval city was used as the film location for King’s Landing.
The city is supposed to hold no more than 8000 people at a time — however the first quarter of this year saw over 100,000 visitors descend upon it.
Over in Paris, the Louvre Museum closed for a day at the end of last month because workers said the crowds were too big to handle, according to the AP.
The tiny Greek isle of Santorini welcomed a record 32 million foreign travellers last year, with Mayor Nikos Zorzos forced to put a daily cap on cruise ships.
Greece’s tourism industry promotes trips to the country outside of summer, and urges visitors to look beyond the obvious popular islands like Crete and Mykonos.
The worst European city for overtourism is arguably Barcelona, thanks once again to the excessive amount of cruise ships that dock in the port city.
As one of the continent’s most crowded cities — over 15,800 inhabitants per square kilometre — even a few thousand extra visitors can cause issues.
With 32 million annual visitors, Barcelona’s locals regularly take to the streets to protest the city’s tourism industry with marches and rallies.
Overtourism is caused by things like the aforementioned spate of cruise ships, low-cost airfares, accommodation services like Airbnb, and social media.
Due to accessible travel, the number of global tourist arrivals has skyrocketed from 525 million in 1995 to 1.4 billion last year.
In comparison to the rest of the world, Australia receives a relatively small number of worldwide visitors, according to a Tourism Australia spokesperson.
The country is in a counter position to Europe’s top destinations, in that it has many more residents (25 million) than international visitors (9.2 million).
Overtourism solutions aren’t rocket science. Travellers are advised to visit key cities during off-peak times, placing less strain on overcrowded areas, resources and infrastructure.
If you’re happy to explore smaller and less popular towns, you should do some research in advance to ensure those places are able to handle the extra traffic.
It’s additionally important your money stays as local as possible in the community you’re visiting, so residents benefit from your stay.
Beirman told 10 daily that cities affected by overtourism may add punitive taxes to “discourage people from all going at the same time of the year”.
“Places like Dubrovnik, Venice and Barcelona are on so many people’s bucket lists, it’s very hard to say you can’t go. Many people will pay the difference.”
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