Can you have too many tourists?

Can you have too many tourists?

Many in the industry would probably say no. We often describe ourselves as travellers and visitors, in the same way that people complain about traffic without recognising that they are part of it. Boissevain published Coping with Tourists: European Reactions to Mass Tourism nearly 20 years ago, since then major European cities have continued to experience rapid growth in tourism numbers. Put “too many tourists” into Google and it offers a range of more detailed searches revealing what others have looked for. This is what Google offered me this morning – Venice, Barcelona, Iceland (yes I was surprised too), Paris, London, New York City, Prague, Thailand, Rome .

You may object that that this just the ephemeral social media but on the first page of “too many tourists in Venice” we have articles in The Independent (UK), the Economist (worldwide), the International Business Times (worldwide), Deutsche Welle (Germany), CBS News (USA), Spiegel (Germany), The Guardian (UK) – this is the mainstream consumer press and this kind of coverage shapes the decisions of potential visitors. For Barcelona similar broadsheets come up a long with the UK’s Daily Mail. In April 2014 they ran a piece “Mass tourism is ruining Barcelona and turning it into a ‘theme park’…”  Venice too has been described as a living museum. Italy’s Disneyland An official with Italia Nostra, an organization that seeks to protect Italy’s historical and cultural treasures, complained: “It’s as if Venice, for most people, is an asset that has to be exploited. A cash cow to be milked until there’s nothing left.” more In Barcelona the Mayor Ada Colau has expressed concern about the impact of tourism on the city and the municipality aspires to manage tourism so that the “coexistence between visitors and residents should be synergic as well as harmonious, based on cultural and economic exchanges and reciprocal contributions, understood as an enriching and mutually constructive experience.”

Can you have too many tourists

Tourism is what we make it, Barcelona and Venice do not inevitably have to be dominated by tourism, victims of mass tourism. Increasingly residents are raising the issue and it is moving up the political agenda in the city governments. On the Monday of World Travel Market we have a high powered panel discussing what can be done to manage tourism so that it does not overwhelm the cities – Venice, Barcelona, Paris, London, New York City, Prague, Berlin, Rome – where the sheer mass of tourism is beginning to be seen as a problem.

Monday 2nd November 15:30 -16:30 Location: Travel Tech Theatre TT390

Destination Partnerships Panel: Barcelona & Venice, coping with success

Industry leaders, outbound tour operators and destinations, discuss how the industry can work with others to realise the aspiration of using tourism to make better places to live in recognising that great places to live in are great places to visit. Using the experience of Barcelona & Venice the industry leaders on the panel will discuss how positive change can be achieved for the benefit of destination communities, their natural and cultural environment and the tourists. Barcelona and Venice are major successes as tourism destinations but they are experiencing the problems of success and residents are demanding change, both cities have growing numbers of staying tourists and day visitors arriving by coach and cruise-liner.

Chair Martin Brackenbury, Director, Classic Collection Holidays, formerly President, International Federation of Tour Operators

Jordi William Carnes, General Manager of Turisme de Barcelona.

Antonello de’ Medici Venice Area Managing Director, Starwood

Garry Wilson, Managing Director – Product and Purchasing at TUI Group

Nikki White Head of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA – The Travel Association

Louise Twining -Ward, Advisor on Royal Caribbean Destination Stewardship program Technical Implementation Partner for their Sustainable Shore Excursions program

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2000 participants each year and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Ireland. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

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