This article in the Guardian makes clear it is not only Venice or Barcelona suffering from mass tourism.
The question, 'Can there be too much of a good thing?" , has an answer.
Makes me fear for my favorite places.
Can there be too much of a good thing?
I just read the statistics of last Easter weekend: 800.000 visitors to the Keukenhof and the area around.
It is the eternal 90/10 rule: 90 percent of the visitors stick to 10 percent of the worthwhile places. It has one advantage though: those other 90 percent of the places are the more enjoyable.
here's me getting political (I really try not to) and going off on a tangent. Did y'all hear about the UN warning that 1 million species are likely to be extinct by 2100? Seems that about 3/4 of the planet's ground surfaces are used for agriculture or are paved over and the world population doubled in the last 50 years. It's not just tourist sights, my dears.
kinda makes me glad I'll be gone long before the new century . . .
I have noticed a recent trend of many tourist sites complaining of being over crowded, affecting their infrastructure and the lives of their locals, while at the same time having booming social media campaigns promoting their locales either recently or currently ongoing. The first example of this that comes to mind is our National Park system. They just celebrated an anniversary year, and each one had a whole year of activity on Instagram and Facebook promoting their beauty and encouraging people to travel. Now many of those same parks this year are remarking on those same platforms about how they are "over loved," and their resources are in danger and they need to brainstorm how to curb the crowds. I see this in cities all over. I follow a lot of photographers on Instagram just for the beauty of their photos, but they are almost all "influencers" who are paid by cities and other organizations in the tourism sector to help promote these very same places.
People seem to love the money that comes in through tourism, but not the crowds and inconvenience. Tourism boards and companies need to take responsibility for the part in this they played and discontinue their over promotion of spots that are too crowded, even if that means it will hurt their bottom line. This is something we struggle with too, in the city I live in. We all benefit from the money that comes into our state through tourism, most notably through our lack of income tax. But in the day-to-day, housing prices are inflated, our roads are over packed, our hospitals are crowded, and our social service programs have a high burden. Everything is a double edged sword
I guess I wonder, what is our part in this, as tourists? When I travel, I try to go with the flow and be as inconspicuous as possible. I try to spend my money at locally owned places. I try to travel at off peak times when I can. But practically, what is our responsibility? Do I say that I have been to Amsterdam and it is suffering from over tourism, so I will take one for the team and never return so that I help lower the burden? Do I say it is ok to travel once per year, but no more? Twice? Once a decade? I guess I see this problem and I feel the plight, but what is to be done about it? Just curious what people think.
Tamara, I think your idea of reducing your travel footprint are noble, but otherwise futile. Worldwide demographics will overwhelm any individual effort to make a difference. The population of the world is almost three times larger than it was when I was born. Growing prosperity in what we used to think of as backward and impoverished countries will keep pushing demand for travel to those special places. As long as there's money to be made, there will be support for increasing tourism, but its not always the locals that benefit. I remember an article about Venice a couple of years ago, which mentioned that 90% of the shops and restaurants in the touristed areas were not locally owned, but rather owned by corporations and foreign investors.
The US National Park Service thing is also interesting. The advertising and promotion is pushed by concessionaires, tourist-oriented businesses (and their obliging politician friends) and local governments who want tax revenue from visitors - not supported within the Park Service itself. The parks themselves are still trying to recover from the government shutdown.
Overcrowding at Keukenhof can be easily solved by building another flower park elsewhere in the country.
Amsterdam itself is pleasant to visit, even within the canal belt, outside the relatively small parts that are really full of people. As with many other destinations, widespread tourist rental of residential properties is a separate issue. It had always been there, only now turbocharged by efficient online platforms (vs local letting agencies). Amsterdam city authorities have a moratorium on new hotels within the city center, which has created a welcome construction boom in industrial areas or outskirts neighborhoods that were completely off the touristic radar.
Museums are tackling the issue with advanced reservation. Less numbers but a much more pleasant travel experience for those who book. Visiting the Anne Frank house or the Van Gogh has significantly improved without major crowding that happened at some times.
Overcrowding is trickier to manage in very small places like Giethoorn or Marken. Only by restricting the ability of tour operators to drop 4 or 5 buses each, in the morning, with day trippers from Amsterdam, could they ameliorate that. The zooming in of touristic pull to some small places like that is a modern Internet-driven phenomena (listicles with 'hidden gems' or 'small nice places' existed on the printed guidebook era but now these can go "viral" much more easily).
I have come across some more intrusive crowd control proposals in Amsterdam. Ideas (not that they would implement anything of the following now) include: sharp increase on tourist day tax for 1 and 2 night stays (€ 20/day has been mulled), outright ban on residential flat toursit rental within the canal belt (requires change in national law, they argue current limits are flaunted often), prioritizing a bit more flight slots at Schiphol for long distance instead of short European haul flights, promoting longer stays with highlights on food, contemporary art and the like, more rotating exhibitions of museum masterpieces to museums in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Groningen, accelerating the shutdown of red light window prostitution (most legal prostitution business already happens online as they say), charging tour buses hefty parking fees on designated parking spots at small towns (like Italy already does, fees of €400 for parking at Giethoorn to disembark one 12m bus have been thrown around), buying out and then closing down several of the tacky cheese or sex museums in medieval Amsterdam (then letting out the spaces for art galleries and other spaces for younger artists), etc
The US National Park Service thing is also interesting. The
advertising and promotion is pushed by concessionaires,
tourist-oriented businesses (and their obliging politician friends)
and local governments who want tax revenue from visitors - not
supported within the Park Service itself.
Stan, I'll kindly disagree with that somewhat. The NPS does its fair share of encouraging tourism, as evidenced by this year's Grand Canyon (one of our more overrun parks) Centennial event. The rollout of "Find Your Park" for the 100th Anniversary of the Park Service was another well-advertised effort.
I've a hunch that Ken Burns' excellent series 10 years ago sparked some additional interest/visitation as did the Robert Redford-narrated IMAX film that came out at the same time as the NPS 100th celebration.
How often are articles like these published?
I feel for the locals who have to deal with throngs of visitors causing havoc on their daily lives. Having visited a few of the places where over touristing is prevalent, I can understand the problem. I think the cruise ship crowds are the most invasive: hundreds descent on a city, stay for a half day and leave. Don't really contribute much to the local economy as they do not stay overnight nor dine as much. Santorini has recently limited the number of ships which can dock each day but not enough to clean things up. I try to travel in the off or shoulder season to avoid the crowds and get better prices. Each city must decide for itself how to curtail the problem. As a lover of travel, I find it hard to stay away from the fabulous places in the world. I am always respectful of the people and their customs unlike a lot of tourists I see.
"Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot them?"
Dead people spend no money
CNN just posted (5/23) another interesting article about anti Amsterdam tourism-
taking down the I Am Amsterdam sign. I have very mixed feelings; promotion and marketing now STAY AWAY.
My concerns are a bit broader. I do think that Amsterdam is trying to take steps to manage the crowds by shifting away from promotion, trying to limit crowd gathering (The idea behind moving the sign to other neighborhoods and limits on tours), and restrictions on the types of shops in the city center. (Knick Knack and Cheese Shops). Those measures help disperse the crowd a bit, but likely will not reduce total numbers significantly.
They probably already have, or soon will put the clamps on AirBNB and other "Home Share" businesses, as well as greater fees on visitors and Hotels. These measures are probably needed to preserve some manageable housing for locals in the town center, and are probably more effective in reducing numbers, but it will mean even higher costs for those that want to visit. All this (plus tight limits on museum visitors and other advance ticket required schemes) unfortunately means that visitors will be limited to those who can well afford the high cost. That winds up being the only effective means for limiting crowds, sell the available few slots to the highest bidder. It is also best that the Public entities are doing the selling, otherwise it is a few tour operators that are making the profit since they are much more effective at getting the slots than you and I.
similar story here, from the Atlantic's CityLab: As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control