Avoiding Overtourism in Your Travel Planning
How to Avoid Overtourism in Your Travel Planning
“Overtourism refers to a situation in which conflicts arise between locals and visitors at tourism destinations, due to perceived congestion or overcrowding. The term is relatively young and has only been used frequently since 2015. However, in a short period of time, it has become the most commonly used expression to describe the negative impacts ascribed to tourism.” (via Wikipedia)
In 2017, 260,000 people lived in Venice, Italy. In that same year, 24,000,000 people visited that city.
Let that sink in. 24,000,000 people!
Most of those visitors visited between the months of July through September. So, that means that Venice is an absolute madhouse during those months. We’ve been there in July. Trust me; it’s no fun. It’s wall-to-wall people, and the locals have a hard time accommodating and dealing with those crowds.
And, if you click on that chart, you will see that the UN World Tourism Organization is predicting that in the next 20-years, the number of tourists will be close to doubling.
As I was scanning this report, put out by the European Parliament in 2018, cities like Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Rome, and many others have a real problem with the crowds. And don’t think these problems are just a European thing. Go hang out in Skagway, Alaska around July and you will see that they are having a similar problem.
So, I am suggesting that you seriously consider this issue as you contemplate your destinations, and in particular, when you plan to visit overcrowded destinations.
5 Tips to Avoid Overtourism in Your Travel Planning
- Give strong consideration to traveling in the shoulder seasons. The weather will likely still be pleasant, but the crowds will be absent. We did a Rhine River cruise two years ago in very early April. The weather was glorious and there were NO crowds. This year, we were sailing the Rhöne in early May. Same thing; glorious weather and no crowds. Plus, the other benefit of traveling in the shoulder seasons is that the prices are generally lower. Avoid the crowds and save money. What could be better?
- Try to avoid routine travel patterns. We sailed with Regent Seven Seas Cruises through Alaska’s Inside Passage in July last year. This is a very busy time for Alaska. However, Regent started their cruise mid-week rather than a typical weekend start. The result? No crowds when we pulled into the various towns. Sweet!
- Consider a smaller footprint while traveling. When we started our travel blog in 2010, we were invited to sail on one of those large-ship floating cities. When we got on board, I wanted to turn around and leave. There we just too many people. Plus, we were sailing in a pack of mega-ships so when we got into the various cities, you could hardly move. Not fun! If you’re contemplating an ocean cruise, spend a little more money and consider a ship with 1,000 or fewer people. These smaller ships can take you to places that the large ships just can’t go. Instead of a large-group land tour, again, spend a little more and enjoy a small group journey. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
- Consider visiting destinations that are away from the crowds. While we love Europe, and I’m sure that we’ll be back many more times, we too are starting to consider other destinations in the Far East, South America, as well as arctic regions. After all, who doesn’t want to see a walrus or a narwhal in the wild? Or, how about Buenos Aires with a side trip to the Mendoza wine country for one of their famous Malbecs? Oh, I could go on and on and on.
- Stay home. No. That was a stupid suggestion. Ignore that one. 🙂
When we are sharing travel advice with our clients, we hear over and over, “oh, I’m so glad you told me that”. You see many times, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s what we are here for.
So, back to our Venice example. Not only can it be very busy during certain times of the year, but did you know that in some months the city can be flooded with 2 feet of water? I beg you, don’t spend thousands of dollars to learn the hard way.
Find a professional travel advisor that you trust. And if we can fill that role, we’d be honored.
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