Overtourism: the plague affecting the world's most interesting places

Larry Niven wrote about the end stage version of this in the short story “Flash Crowd” – what do you do when people can teleport into somewhere that’s suddenly interesting, whether it’s a well-reviewed restaurant, tourist spot, or building fire (read the story to find out the solution).

We’ve had pretty good results hitting Rome and Amsterdam in ‘shoulder season’ and crowds were only bad at the Anne Frank house (only because my SO messed up the reserved tickets), and long lines at St. Peter’s. We like walking tours, which let you see a lot of city without fighting to get into any single place – choose your battles. We’re also interested in things that apparently don’t attract huge crowds, such as archaeological sites (Pompeii of course was still pretty crowded), history-of-the-city museums, etc. If you want to see something really cool, go to Vienna, and visit the Musical Instrument museum.

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My Dear Wife and I get up at 5 AM on Sundays to ride our motorcycles to OB. We wait for the local coffee house to open, and then high tail it out’a there before the turistas crawl out.

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Last summer when I was in Spain most of the country’s news was about the aggro backlash by locals to overtourism in Barcelona. Some level of increased management is called for in the popular destinations, along with some much-needed basic education on how to be a good and respectful tourist. This last is important not only for the “ugly American” style tourists but also because:

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Agreed, but it does seem to be accelerating. Barcelona in 2016 was appreciably worse than I recall it in 2010ish, and (central) Reykjavik last June was very different to 2011.

Personally, I would only visit Venice Nov-March, and my July break was in Helsinki (coinciding with Trump-Putin, but that was accidental and didn’t exactly attract crowds)

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Same here. I live near a very popular national park, and if you start your hike early enough the parking lots will be empty and you won’t see the tourists until you’re leaving.

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Except freakin Sturgis, SD during the bike rally. ‘Look honey, along with the buffalo, there are bikes as far as the eye can see.’

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One approach is to take a look at what attracts people to these locations where tourists go to spend their money and then look at your home town and ask yourself what your town can do to be more like the places people actually want to visit.
Taking Amsterdam for example. Those young male tourists don’t go to Amsterdam and spend their vacation money for the history or the culture. They go there for the prostitution and pot. Nevada gets a lot of prostitution tourists and tourist dollars because they don’t jail you for exchanging sex for money. Take a look at Denver which set new tourism records with 32 million visitors, $6.5 billion in revenue last year. They did this by not arresting people for choosing to use a plant that’s been here over 6 million years.

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Just got back last week. Hardly any cars driving in the center of Amsterdam, and those that did regretted their choice. The Red Light was shoulder to shoulder, which served as a good deterrent for my curious children.

There’s a small pub near the central station called “Het Elfde Gebod” that I became fond of years ago. When I went there last week all the customers were from the US or England, and the bartender was from Chicago. Disappointing.

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Essential reading on this topic (or just tourism, never mind the “over” part):

Voices of the Old Sea by Norman Lewis (1984).

https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780786716906

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Or take some mushrooms and pretend you’re at your local national park/protected wild lands.

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The thing is, tourism needs management if it isn’t going to destroy what it aims to promote. And that’s why Airbnb and other “disruptive” apps need to be controlled. Turning housing into holiday lets just prices out local residents even more because tourists pay so much more for the same space as residents.

EDIT- and another thought: the problems of over tourism are similar to the problems that people have with gentrification, in that the root problem isn’t that a location is desirable, the problem is with the side effects that come with making a place desirable, coupled with unregulated capitalism, which loads all the externalities on the poorest.

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Honestly, if I can find a good rotting stump with some decent moss and fungus coverage, I’ve had my architectural epiphany for the month. That’s what I miss most about Maine (definitely not the summer tourist rush!)

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You need to modify this in your telling of the story, and indeed, in your own mind as WE messed up the reserved tickets if you want to have a long and happy SO experience.

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Couldn’t find anything to support this number. If you’re talking just pot tax revenue, that number is about $200 million/year state-wide (this represents about 2% of the annual state budget).

For overall tourism numbers, the numbers are staggering considering the entire state population is only 5.6 million.

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Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

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This is excellent advice. Recently, I’ve learned that my favorite trips are road trips, because the most actually interesting things are between the things that are easy to get to in touristy areas. With a road trip, I get to spend a day or two in an area seeing any sights that interest me, then discover a bunch of other stuff I’d never find or consider as a destination in its own right.

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DH and I usually plan our trips around special events, and as a result, we get to see fabulous locations with no one there, because everyone else goes to the well-trodden venues. For the 2017 solar eclipse, I wangled a room in Yellowstone NP, but we made plans to get out of Dodge early enough to beat the hordes searching for a viewing spot. Doing our research, we ended up at the airfield just outside Dubois, WY. The town was great, and we got a special treat as at least 2 dozen unique aircraft staged a fly-in that day for totality. OTOH, listening to WAZE, Jackson Hole, also in the path of totality but 150 miles in the opposite direction, had accidents, plenty of police arrests for people being stupid, and general mayhem.

Yellowstone was predictably breathtaking, but crowded the last half of August, and we had anticipated that.

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Here you go https://www.denverpost.com/2018/06/20/denver-2017-tourism-statistics/

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