The unwelcome tourist

Hi Globetrotters and welcome to the latest instalment of your GTG. Well it seems like we’ve been hitting the road in record numbers of late, flocking to an ever-increasing number of destinations around the planet. This time around, we take a look at the exact situation your GTG is working to avoid, where tourism and tourists are antagonised by the locals (or the other away around).

Recent reports by The Guardian and Australia’s ABC News describe marches of thousands of locals against tourism, particularly in Spain, Italy and Croatia. So far in GTG history, we have explored the potentially self-inflicted ways that we may unwittingly grate upon our hosts. At second glance, it seems there may be a whole range of factors contributing to this outrage. 

What’s the problem? Tourists go home image

The first factor is cruise ships. When a cruise liner docks at a port for example Dubrovnik Croatia, the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, potentially thousands of people descend on a place and are unlikely to venture too far given the short time span of their visit. When you combine that with the layout of cities that were designed long before cars, the small narrow streets can take no time at all to become crowded.

The second factor relates to accomodation. As organisations such as Air BnB have grown massively and tourism accomodation options expand, locals are finding it harder and harder to afford to live in the parts of the towns they have grown up in. As a knee-jerk reaction, tourists cop the blame.

Also putting pressure on some destinations is the growth of the ‘city break’. With aircity break travel more affordable than ever before, a whole range of destinations become a matter of a quick jaunt that doesn’t require too much leave or planning. Dublin for example, is home to swarms of lads on tour celebrating bucks nights or 21st birthdays and women on hens weekends. The object of these trips seems to be to party up for the weekend and then get get back to reality before the dust settles, leaving behind a trail of empty bottles or other debris.

Another factor identied in these reports, is the absence of local decision making in the tourism planning process. Good tourism research demonstrates the benefits of broad stakeholder involvement in achieving improved tourism experiences and tourism experiences that are supported locally. While it may be more complicated, more time consuming, and at times more expensive, effective engagement with local tourism stakeholders such as councils could have avoided some of the mess we see.

What are people doing about it?anti-tourism-protest-spain-croatia-croatia

Apart from marching on tbe streets, some councils have set limits on the number of tourists they will accept. Some have even banned selfie sticks or cracked down on organisations such as air BnB.

What else is there to think about?

Despite an observable growth in local public opposition to tourism, particularly in Europe, some economists suggest that there may not have been much of a growth in real numbers. This means that other factors such as globalisation, political tensions and conflict may also be weighing on people’s minds.

What can we do as tourists or travellers?

  • Your GTG’s first recommendation as always is to get informed and learn as much as possible about the issues affecting a place before you go.
  • Where possible, choose ethical tourism providers who can demonstrate that they check in with the locals.
  • If you are somewhere and have the opportunity, try and speak to some locals to see what issues they feel are facing their place.

So there we have it, too much of a good thing….. you know the rest. Have you experienced any anti tourism action while away? Do you know any more about the current situation in Europe? If so, your GTG would love to hear from you. Get in touch using the contact form below. Until next time.