UNWTO: how to manage urban ‘over tourism’

 

The tourism sector’s shift in focus towards innovation and experiences, and traveller demand for diverse and immediate experiences in cities, will underpin the future of city tourism.

A new UNWTO report "Over tourism? Understanding and managing urban tourism growth beyond perceptions" examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations to the benefit of visitors and residents alike.

The report is the result of collaboration between UNWTO, the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality, Breda University of Applied Sciences and the European Tourism Futures Institute of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. It proposes 11 strategies and 68 measures to help understand and manage visitor growth.

The recent growth of urban tourism requires the sector to ensure sustainable policies and practices that minimise adverse effects of tourism on the use of natural resources, infrastructure, mobility and congestion, as well as its socio-cultural impact.

Increased reports of negative attitudes among local populations towards visitors, due to perceived overcrowding, noise and other issues, have led to the spread of terms such as ‘over tourism’ and ‘tourism phobia’ in the media.

Governance is key. Addressing the challenges facing urban tourism is a much more complex issue than is commonly recognised. Tourism must ensure local communities see and benefit from the positive aspects of tourism.

To better understand visitor management challenges in urban contexts, particularly the relationship between residents and visitors, the report includes an analysis of residents’ perceptions towards tourism in eight European cities – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Munich, Salzburg and Tallinn.

The report suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to deal with over tourism. Tourism needs to be part of a city-wide strategy for sustainable development. The report recommends a common strategic vision among all stakeholders involved, bringing residents and visitors together and adopting careful planning that respects the limits of capacity and the specificities of each destination. The involvement and support of local residents is key in achieving sustainable tourism. Building shared responsibility amongst stakeholders directly or indirectly involved in tourism development is a key for ensuring long-term sustainability.

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