What else can be done?
As tourists we can ensure our own behaviour is as beneficial as possible, but to really effect change across the industry, and around the world, things need to happen at a much higher level. Governments and local authorities need to look at ways to control tourist numbers – whether by raising prices, issuing permits to certain attractions, banning cruise ships over a certain size, or having greater control over which businesses open and where.
All the while that increasing numbers remains the goal of tourist boards and other tourism bodies such as the UNWTO, this will not happen. But as soon as the focus shifts away from this, we can really start to tackle some of the industry’s greatest challenges. Overtourism may seem like a new concept, but there are many examples around the world of how it has been successfully avoided, dating back years. Gorilla tracking in East Africa is one such example; just eight permits per day are issued to track each gorilla family, and permit prices range from US $500-$750. Far from causing outcry, tourists view the handful of expensive permits as an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The experience has not been boycotted; permits regularly sell out. Better still, the forests remain intact, and gorilla numbers, which were once threatened, have increased substantially since the introduction of tourism.