How Can Emerging Destinations Avoid Overtourism?

Today's emerging destinations don't have to become tomorrow's overtouristed spots. Here's how.

Our annual Emerging Destination Awards are meant to spotlight unsung destinations that currently have extra capacity and are worthy alternatives to overtouristed places. 

But as visitors flock to emerging destinations, there's a real risk of the medicine becoming the disease. Today's emerging destination can quickly become tomorrow's overtouristed spot if destinations aren't careful in managing growth. 

Fortunately, there are proactive steps that destinations can take to promote responsible tourism growth. 

Our Emerging Destination judges are some of the best-traveled people on the planet. They've seen what works - and what doesn't - firsthand. 

So we asked them what our winning destinations can do to help responsibly manage increased visitation. 

Their responses, which you can read below, reflect a range of ideas that our winning destinations can implement now to ensure that future tourism growth is a positive driver for local communities. 

Read their thoughtful ideas below and let us know: 

What do you think? 

We'd love for you to join in the conversation about overtourism in the comments or on social media with #travellemming:


FUNNEL TOURISM DOLLARS TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES

In Africa many popular destinations struggle with the balance of increasing numbers of tourists and maintaining standard of living for local residents. Too many resources are put towards sustaining growing numbers of tourists while residents needs come second. Local and national governments need to allocate their resources so that the income from tourism funnels down to support residents and meet their needs. 

Amanda Mouttaki //  Maroc Mama


DISCOURAGE DAY TRIPPERS & REGULATE AIRBNB

Firstly, destinations should discourage day trippers and encourage longer stays. This can be done in many ways, by promoting attractions outside the city center to prohibiting cruise ships. Destinations should also enact strong regulations on short-term accommodation providers like Airbnb to protect local residents from decreased housing availability and increased rents.

KATE MCCULLEY //  Adventurous Kate


MARKET ALL PARTS OF YOUR DESTINATION

One action I think destinations can take is promoting as many different aspects of their town/city/region as possible, including lesser-known sites and neighborhoods. You often see the same beach or attraction being promoted over and over again, which drives all the tourists to the same few places. Instead, try to spread visitors out across the city. 

Jessie Festa   // Jessie On A Journey


LIMIT VISITOR NUMBERS


[Destinations] can limit the number of visitors per period of time or offer similarly attractive alternatives within their countries. As a budget traveler, this second point is not the easiest to make, but imposing some sort of tourist tax may reduce numbers. 

Amarachi Ekekwe //  Travel with a Pen


IMPOSE TAXES, FEES, AND RESTRICTIONS

Destinations have to put concrete restrictions on the tourism sector. Not expect travelers to do it. They won't. In the form of increased site fees, hotel taxes, and tour group restrictions, destinations can combat over tourism and manage growth. 

Erick Prince  // Minority Nomad


LIMIT CRUISE SHIPS

For starters, there needs to be limits on cruise ships allowed in destinations as well as responsibly marketing places people should visit. Perhaps stop putting all the marketing budget behind places that are overwhelmed with tourism and concentrate the efforts on other destinations/businesses who have something to offer that could use a boost in tourism.

Megan Indoe  // Bobo and Chichi


PRESERVE LOCAL CULTURE

I think the major concern should be long-term sustainability and the consequences for the local population. Destinations would certainly benefit from a focus on ensuring that the benefits of increased tourism equate to benefits for the local population (for example, increased employment opportunities, benefits for new industries etc.). I would also recommend that destinations ensure that increased tourism does not result in a dilution of local culture, but rather that the opportunity is taken to renew a focus on local culture and ensure it remains as a central pillar of national tourism strategies. 

Daniel Herszberg   // @dhersz


PROMOTE EMERGING DESTINATIONS

Destinations should be investing in the development of new and unique tourism products in emerging regions, and using digital media to promote this places, encouraging new visitors to get off the beaten path.

Jarryd Salem  // Nomadasauras


STOP MARKETING OVERTOURISTED DESTINATIONS

Most of them are doing what needs to be done - except to stop marketing those destinations entirely and focus on alternatives. 

Timothy Scott   // Luxury Latin America


CREATE SMART VISITING SCHEDULES

Prepare safety measures such as traffic diversions and roping off areas they don’t want touched/climbed. Creating smart visiting schedules (like ticketed viewing times and tours). Be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

Alyssa Ramos  // My Life's A Travel Movie


FOCUS ON CONTROLLED GROWTH

As cities or countries market themselves as a go-to destination, it's important to envision the end goal and answer some essential questions: How many tourists can your destination realistically support? Who is your ideal traveler? What infrastructure needs does your destination have? Instead of trying to get masses of people right away, start small and focus on targeting a smaller demographic with goals of growing tourism slowly as you're able. Also if possible, create spaces for locally-run businesses to promote themselves and access resources for working in the tourism sector. These are the people that travelers will interact with, and they will essentially be the "face of your destination". If they have the necessary support, visitors will feel this and will ultimately have a better experience. 

Katie & BEN  // Two Wandering Soles


ENACT VISITOR LIMITATIONS

They should limit tourism in order to force travelers to spread out to places that receive few visitors. Whether our travels are focused on interaction and education or just having a relaxing vacation, or anything in between, we can achieve it in smaller, lesser known destinations too.

Derek Baron   // Wandering Earl


ENCOURAGE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRACTICES

These are some of the most beautiful and mostly untouched places in the world, work hard to keep it this way by placing ethical and environmental tourism practices in place today! 

Tommo & Megsy   // Food Fun Travel


EMBRACE LOCAL TRADITION

There is no easy answer to over tourism management, and each destination is trying to address the issue in their own way. I think it is very important to keep the locals in the city (some of them have to move out because if the rising cost of living or loud noises that tourists make) and preserve the traditions as much as possible. At the end of the day, one of the reasons we travel so far is to witness the way the locals live and to try the authentic cuisine, isn’t it?

Yulia Safutdinova   // Miss Tourist


SPREAD TOURISTS OUT OVER YOUR CITY

Develop different types of attractions all over the city or destination, so people are spread all over the place and not all concentrated in the same area. Promote second tier destinations in the region, and in extreme cases limit the number of tourists.

Francisco Ortiz   // VIAJANDO CON FRAN


INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Destinations need to proactively work with private and public organizations to ensure that the infrastructure (e.g., roads, parking, toilets, electricity, etc.) is built to support the influx of additional travelers, put restrictions on visitor numbers to fragile historical and natural sites, and education visitors on how to act responsibly in their destinations (e.g., stay on the trails, reduce waste, etc.).

Audrey Scott  // Uncornered Market


Those are our ideas for how our winning destinations can responsibly manage tourism growth. 

Now let's hear from you. 

What do you think? 

Scroll down to leave a comment or click share and join in the conversation with the hashtag #travellemming. 

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