Venice, Paris, London, and Amsterdam. What do all these cities have in common?
They’re all visited by millions of travelers every year, creating heavy foot traffic that’s drowning out the waning steps of residents.
And without a paradigm shift in tourism, we could soon see the collapse of ancient walls, influential cultures, and native homes all around the world.
Summer is primetime for travelers to head to their destination of choice which probably include some of the most-visited cities in the world.
Once upon a time, cities like Paris and Prague would have welcomed tourists with open arms, even enticing them to come sooner, stay later, and bring a friend.
But now, with tourism reaching heights beyond their wildest dreams, these cities are singing a different tune.
As Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
“The Belgian city of Bruges is cracking down on cruise ships, Paris wants to limit coaches, Prague is fed up with beer bikes – and one Thai beach has banned tourists altogether.”
There is no argument that tourism creates jobs, but it also creates boundless waste, community conflict, and overall destruction to the very infrastructures that allure the masses there in the first place.
For example, cruise ships have become extremely popular, with over 20 million travelers making it their vacation of choice annually, according to Tripsavvy.
But there is a lot at stake here.
When cruise ships dock at a city, hordes of people get off and flood the surrounding area to eat, drink, and shop, leaving behind a trail of destruction that the city can never recuperate from.
President Trump did Cuba a favor by implementing a travel ban on cruise ships embarking for its communist shores. https://proudamericantraveler.com/trumps-new-travel-restrictions-may-change-your-summer-vacation/
Tourism has reached its highest peak since world travel first began to flourish after World War II, with 1.4 billion tourists making their travel dreams come true last year according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
China alone generates 143 million tourists in a given year, while France and Spain take the cake in Europe with more than 80 million tourists a year.
What has especially caused this influx in adventure, sightseeing, and soothing beachside stays?
The U.S. economy has seen a rise in recent years thanks to our current Head of State, making the family vacation a renewed possibility for the once-struggling middle class.
Tourism authorities gauge this progress by the increase in the sheer number of travelers, but this viewpoint could have dire ramifications.
Marina Novelli, professor of tourism and international development at the University of Brighton, has much to say about the industry looking at success through this lens, as Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
“This model no longer works and that’s probably the most important message to get out there… overcrowding and “Disneyfication” in some places could destroy the charms that draw tourists in the first place.
If we look at numbers only, and we don’t look in more detail at the impact – economic, social, environmental – we risk killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”
Some cities have suffered the brunt of tourism more than others. Venice, Italy is the poster child for what mass tourism can do to a once quaint and iconic treasure.
Over 30 million tourists come upon the “Queen of the Adriatic” annually to navigate its intricate canals and take selfies atop its romantic bridges, leading UNESCO to discuss adding Venice to the list of endangered heritage sites.
At the height of Venice’s boom in 1945, there were around 175,000 residents. Now there are just over 50,000 residents today.
Italian food blogger and gastronomic tours director, Monica Cesarato, told Thomson Reuters Foundation:
“We used to have a low season when Venetians had time to recuperate. Now it’s all year round and Venetians don’t get the city for themselves anymore.”
Amsterdam and France are among a few popular cities around the world that are cracking down on tourism by limiting travelers or restricting access to residential sections.
But does this all mean that Americans should travel less? No way!
There are vast areas of beautiful landscape that have not been tainted by commercialism and the overpopulation of tourists.
Check out the intricate designs of the Veerabhadra temple in Lepakshi, India; the crystal blue waters of the Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia; or the enchanting waterfalls of Dynjandi, Iceland.
Take the time to venture beyond the most popular sites and go see the parts of our diverse world we often forget exists.
Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve recently visited a certain destination off the beaten path and what inspired you to travel there.