There is “no magic bullet” to ease growing pressure on popular tourism destinations, according to a World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, and long-term planning is the only “answer”.
The report, Coping with success: Managing overcrowding in tourism destinations, suggests “good management is crucial for all destinations” and popular tourism spots “need to identify early warning signs” of overtourism.
The study, produced jointly by the WTTC and management consultancy McKinsey & Company, was published this week.
It identifies five types of problems in destinations: the “alienation of local residents, constrained infrastructure, diminished tourist experience, damage to natural resources, and threat to cultural heritage”.
In response, it suggests a range of actions including “smoothing visitor numbers over time, spreading visitors across sites, adjusting pricing to balance supply and demand, regulating accommodation supply and limiting access and activities” to visitors.
The report also proposes a ‘heatmap’ system to help destinations identify signs of overtourism.
It concludes that tourism managers “must work with all public and private stakeholders to develop a coherent plan to create and manage tourism growth that puts people and communities at its heart, is long term and fact based”.
WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Our sector will continue to grow [and] some places may be threatened by their own popularity.
“The top-20 country destinations will add more arrivals by 2020 than the rest of the world combined.
“Where tourism growth is perceived negatively, each destination has specific problems and challenges, but the common factor is that what is needed is long-term planning not knee-jerk reactions.”
Guevara added: “Our intention in this report is to provide a starting point for a new conversation around tourism growth.”
Alex Dichter, McKinsey & Company senior partner, said: “Overcrowding is easier to prevent than to recover from.
“The real lesson from our work is that good management is vital for all tourism destinations. This includes rigorous long-term planning, involving all sections of society.”
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