It’s pretty cool to live in a day and age in which it’s easier than ever to travel halfway around the world. All you have to do is hop on a plane and in a half-day’s time you’ll be on the other side of the earth. Like I said, pretty cool.
But it’s not all good. When something is that easy to do, a lot of people end up doing it. And when you add that with the advent of social media influencers whose job it is to travel full time and - well, influence you to travel - you end up getting a picture that looks pretty worrisome.
Overtourism or toxic tourism?
Overtourism is defined as, “an excessive number of tourist visits to a popular destination or attraction...” that can result in many things, including poorer quality of life for residents, and - more important for vacationers - a vacation that isn’t relaxing or fun at all.
And sadly, it’s become more and more of a problem in recent years. Take Greece, for example. Sure, they have their fair share of problems, but attracting hordes of onlookers isn’t one of them. In 2018 alone, Greece welcomed over 30 million visitors - more than double the amount of visitors from 2010, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization. In layman’s terms, places like Santorini, which used to be a great place to visit, have fallen prey to “overtourism.” Just take a look at this photo. Yeah, that is certainly not my idea of a relaxing vacation.
Now, Greece is a country. Remember that when you take a look at these numbers for individual cities when it comes to the number of overseas tourists they get every year (note the numbers don’t count tourists from nearby countries):
With “toxic” being such a popular word these days (just put any other word after toxic and you’ll find the left has already put its mark on it), “toxic tourism” may be more fitting than overtourism.
Overcrowding can ruin a vacation
One of the problems with these social media “influencers” is the fact that they are paid to take pictures of places to get you to go there. It’s the modern day version of a TV commercial (not the perfect example, but you know what I mean).
What happens when you see someone share a gorgeous photo of some far off place that you’ve always wanted to go to? You wanna go even more. You start saving. And you make a plan to use your hard earned vacation time to go to said place. But when you get there it doesn’t look like that picture at all. It looks like this:
Everywhere you go is packed with tourists shoulder to shoulder. That kind of overcrowding can ruin a vacation pretty easily. Good luck finding a spot to relax poolside at the hotel. The likelihood of you waiting two hours to eat dinner is gonna be pretty high. And everything will be more expensive simply because the demand is so high.
Can you salvage a vacation like that?
Maybe. I don’t mean to pick on Santorini, but I’m gonna use them in another example. If you do end up going, and during the sunset everyone on the island and their mom (literally, in many cases) is taking pictures of the sunset, go off and do something else where it’s not nearly as crowded.
Let’s use a popular tourist attraction like Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro in another example. It opens at 8:00 in the morning. I have it on good authority that if you get there when it opens, you’ll be able to count the amount of tourists there on one hand. But if you go midday - you’ll have to wait in line just to get a good picture of you and the statue.
Something else you can do is go somewhere during the low season. Be forewarned, however, there may be a lot less to do on the account of places being closed (simply because it is the offseason for tourists), but if avoiding crowds is a goal of yours, you may wanna consider this strategy. During the low season it’s also often cheaper to go to these places.
You’re not gonna see many articles about this topic because people in the travel industry (whether they’re bloggers, influencers, hotels, airlines, etc.) want people to travel. In general, the more people travel, the more money folks in the travel industry will make.
I’m a fan of vacations. But I also want everyone who goes on one to have the time of their lives. Because you all deserve it. Paying for and going on a vacation is not easy. It takes a lot of money, hard work, and planning. The least you should expect is to have a good time while away from home.
The question is, what are the travel trends we should expect to see in 2019 and what are the best ways to avoid going to a place that suffers from toxic tourism? I’ll tell you that in my next post.
In the meantime, if you are looking for a whole bunch of travel information in one place so you can free up your valuable time to do other things today, I’ve compiled a whole library of information for you. The best part? It’s free. Take five seconds to fill out the empty fields below to get access and regain a little bit of control in your life.