By Jay Kantawala, Founder of WIYO Travel
When the rigours of daily life and the grind get too strenuous, nothing relaxes your mind, body and spirit like the perfect vacation, right? You can choose to soak up the sun and the sea on a beach, be one with nature in the hills and perhaps just indulge your senses at a historical destination.
Except when you arrive at your dream destination, it turns out to be a nightmare. It’s crowded beyond expectations, and the destination only compounds everything you hate about city life. It’s far from paradise. It has turned into an over-commercialized and overpopulated version of the place you loved. This is a disaster, a holiday-goers worst nightmare come true.
The tourism industry has grown at an exponential rate. So much so, that a lot more people are travelling now than they once used to. The emerging middle class has the means and the ability to visit more places now than ever before. And this has given rise to a very real fear dubbed ‘overtourism’.
The term ‘overtourism’ was coined last year and denotes the phase when far too many tourists travel to a destination. While primarily used in a negative context, there are two sides to the concept of overtourism. Let’s look at both the pros and cons of this phenomenon.
With more tourism, there are more opportunities for employment. It allows the people of any locality to earn a better living. Moreover, with more visitors, the economy of the destination benefits leading to better infrastructure and a better standard of living for residents. Ultimately, well-travelled tourists are found to be better adjusted and knowledgeable about the culture of various places. This eventually leads to a peaceful and harmonious world.
But then again, ‘overtourism’ also has its detriments. Residents in Barcelona and Venice have actually organized protests and made graffiti urging tourists return from whence they arrived. This is because overtourism can have an adverse effect in terms of jammed roads, littering, destruction of the ecology of the tourist destination and much more.
So how does one strike a balance between the pros and cons of this phenomenon? The change needs to stem from the tourist himself, who needs to make a very positive difference. While passing through a destination, he/she needs to be responsible so as to not cause an adverse effect on the destination, on the environment and on the residents of the place.
‘Overtourism’ was added to the dictionary when it became a problem for those affected by its menace. Perhaps in the times that follow, ‘responsible tourism’ or ‘sustainable tourism’ will be added to the dictionary as well.