In 2016, Rafat Ali, the CEO and founder of media company Skift, wrote a foreword to an article about the negative impact of tourism in Iceland entitled “Foreword: the coming perils of overtourism”. This was the first notable mention of overtourism and in this he mentions that overtourism represents a potential hazard worldwide if not properly managed.
Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and it is estimated that, by 2050, this proportion will reach 70%. The growing urban population along with increasing tourist numbers often means that main cities can become overrun very quickly. Therefore it is important to spread tourists across the countries rather than allowing them to be confined to the main tourist attractions.
Different people will have different ideas of overtourism and what is too much for them. Some are put off by even the suggestion that a destination is ‘touristy’ while others may prefer staying on the tourist trails and are unfazed queuing for hours or being amongst large crowds.
Overtourism was high on the list of priorities at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) global summit in Buenos Aires in 2018, demonstrating that the industry as a whole is taking this issue seriously.
This report looks at the companies playing a role in overtourism as well as those actively combating the threat.