FEATURE12 August 2021

Over it? Overtourism and post-pandemic travel

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Europe Features Impact Travel

Overtourism is an increasingly pressing problem in the world’s most popular destinations. As the global travel industry recovers, a fine balance is needed to ensure tourism stays sustainable. By Katie McQuater.

Tourists visiting mediterranean town

In March, city officials in Venice set up a control room on the island of Tronchetto, using mobile phone data to monitor the footfall of tourists around the city. By gathering information about visitors’ whereabouts – and where they come from – the authorities hope to use the data to tackle overtourism in the City of Bridges, which has between 26 million and 30 million visitors annually and a shrinking population of permanent residents.

But the issue isn’t confined to Venice alone, nor only to cities. In 2018, a report from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said ‘overtourism’ can be defined as ‘the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experiences in a negative way’.

The income from tourism is a significant contributor to national and local economies, but unsustainable tourism has become an international issue in recent years, not just in urban areas ...