Are Tourists Destroying The World?

Tourism figures are increasing all over the world as people flock to visit other countries in greater numbers than ever before. But is it damaging the world?

A tsunami of visitors

The rush of tourists to the world’s finest attractions has steadily climbed in recent years. It is happening everywhere as popular destinations reach saturation point, prompted partly by currency swings that provide value for the traveller.

As tourism figures soar simmering frustration is leading to protests in the top locations calling for limits to the number of people allowed to visit. Severe overcrowding is happening in popular sites, as cruise ships and tour buses dispatch hoards of curious visitors to stream over local landmarks. Streets swell with a daily influx of arrivals as water and other supplies struggle under the intense demands of the traveller. Century old markets and historic monuments are inundated with social media addicts who drape over sacred shrines for the benefit of clicking another selfie.

Housing comes under pressure too, as local homes are captured in the service of Airbnb to accommodate visitors at the cost of residents. Local people suffer from a shortage of houses while the range of short-term lettings soars. Providing a decent quality of life for people who live and work locally is a consuming topic of conversation as tensions between residents and visitors in all parts of the world rise to worrying levels. Cheap flights and travel combine with higher incomes to create a global middle class with the means and desire to explore every corner of the world. National and local governments add to the problem, as tourism is an ideal way to generate revenue and build a strong economy. Every effort therefore is made to attract tourists in a way that maximises stay and spend in an effort to bolster the national coffers.

Targeting the tourist

Tourists are targeted with little consideration given to the effect on areas of beauty that suffer from underinvestment and poorly serviced infrastructure. The life of local people is sacrificed too, in the hope of attracting high-spending visitors who spend locally. But a backlash is gathering pace with the introduction of restrictions on the number of visitors to find a balance between those who live in an area for a lifetime and those who visit for a day. Taxes are rising too as a way to manage numbers, increase revenue and ensure a spread of tourists to less popular regions.

As tourist numbers spiral it is difficult to balance the visitors short-term wants with the long-term needs of communities under threat from an industry that grows each year. As a result, there is an increasing likelihood that when we travel the overriding experience will be that of overcrowding.

So, if you’re a keen tourist frustrated by queues and crowds when visiting your favourite locations remember you may be part of a problem that is damaging the world.