The number of senior industry professionals who think tourism caps are a good way to curb overcrowding at key attractions has increased year-on-year, according to World Travel Market London research released today (Monday 7 November) at the event.
Three-quarters of the 2,000 industry professionals surveyed agreed with the statement that ‘tourism caps are a practical solution to the problems of overcrowding’. Last year, when the same statement was put to respondents, 65% agreed.
The increase highlights a growing problem faced by destinations and attractions that are becoming a victim of their own success and are finding themselves having to cope with overcrowding.
Of the 75% of respondents who agree with the measures, 30% said tourism caps are ‘somewhat useful’; 27% think they are ‘quite useful’ and 18% find caps to be ‘extremely useful’ in dealing with the problem. Only 5% said tourism caps are ‘not at all’ a practical solution to overcrowding and 11% said caps are ‘not very’ useful.
The 2015 report highlighted a marked difference between the number of industry professionals that thought tourism caps were a good idea in theory, and those who approved the measure in practice. However, this year’s results show this gap is narrowing.
When asked whether caps would be a good thing for their own city, company or destination, 61% of those who took part in the 2016 research agreed. Only 8% said caps had no benefit to their own city/company/destination and 15% said a cap was ‘not very’ useful. Last year only 36% agreed that a cap would be a good thing for their own city, company or destination, with 34% disagreeing.
A number of hot spots and protected areas have recently announced plans to cap visitors, showing the situation is becoming more concerning.
For example, Thailand has banned visitors from four islands: Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui, Koh Khai Nai and Koh Tachai in a bid to save coral reef from permanent damage. Before the ban, at least 60 speedboats visited the sites each day. Shops and cafes have been closed down, meaning local traders have no income from tourists.
Italian officials have announced a cap on tourists to Cinque Terre, a picturesque group of five villages along the Ligurian Sea, which wants to see numbers down from 2.5 million to 1.5 million each year.
The Seychelles is looking at curbing its annual visitor numbers. Its Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, has said in the past: “We don’t want to demean the value of the Seychelles. We’re reaching 250,000 people, six times the number of people who live there.”
Iceland has said it can’t keep pace with the huge increase in visitors in recent years. The destination has a population of 335,000, yet expects to welcome 1.6 million visitors in 2016, a 29% increase on 2015.
Iceland Tourist Board Director General Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir has said: “We can’t just endlessly receive more and more people at any particular tourist site and live under the assumption that we are offering the type of experience that people have paid for.”
Iceland is also becoming choosier about those who do visit and is asking people to be more environmentally and socially aware, going so far as to launch an etiquette guide. Its plan to target the ‘enlightened tourist’ is a key theme at WTM London.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “Destinations and attractions have a tricky job getting the balance right between attracting more visitors, but not attracting more than can be accommodated. With a growing worldwide population and more people wanting to travel, this issue is one that will not go away.
“As well as affecting local communities, putting a huge strain on infrastructure and even threatening wildlife, too many tourists lead to huge queues and being hurried along at sites of interest that visitors really want to see. Experiences like that can really spoil a holiday and that is not in anyone’s interest.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.
WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.