What is overtourism?
In short, overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is a subjective term, of course, but it is defined in each destination by local residents, hosts, business owners and tourists. When rent prices push out local tenants to make way for holiday rentals, that is overtourism. When narrow roads become jammed with tourist vehicles, that is overtourism. When wildlife is scared away, when tourists cannot view landmarks because of the crowds, when fragile environments become degraded – these are all signs of overtourism.
Why is it happening?
The travel industry, like many others, focuses almost exclusively on growth, with little or no concern for the impacts. After decades of virtually uncontrolled growth, it has crossed a threshold: in many destinations, tourism now demonstrably creates more problems than benefits. This can take many forms; perhaps a million additional tourists are arriving in a capital city, or 20 additional tourists in a small, rural community. Overtourism is not just a big city issue; it has been documented in wilderness areas and national parks, and in places such as the Isle of Skye.