OVERTOURISM : WhAT’s THE PROBLEM

Billions of travellers are circling the planet each year. Our individual adventures are adding up and placing significant pressures on the well-being of people and our planet.

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In 1950 there were 25 million international trips per year, today there’s over 1.4 billion - that’s almost 4 million people crossing international borders every day - can you fathom the amount of single use plastic waste or CO2 emissions generated from flights alone.

In fact if Aviation was a country, it would be the 7th largest emitter of CO2 in the world, just behind Germany!

Travel is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact todays numbers are set to double by 2030 - we have to ask whether our environments and cultures are resilient enough to withstand the stampede?

Coined in 2012 ‘Overtourism’ is fast becoming a hot and heated topic in the travel industry. Linked to many serious issues - from cultural erosion, climate change, plastic waste, wildlife exploitation to mass and irreversible habitat loss - it's also directly and negatively impacting local's lives and the quality and expense for the traveller. Last year the term entered the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as:

“An excessive number of tourists visiting a destination or attraction, resulting in damage to the local environment, historical sites and leading to a poorer quality of life for residents.”

This ‘new’ or as some would say dormant phenomena has now erupted, sweeping far and wide across the globe, thanks to cheaper air fares, rising incomes and social media's ability to laser focus attention on specific ‘instagramable’ destinations.

Every day more travellers than ever before are descending on places that can no longer cope with their own popularity.

  • The 55,000 residents of Venice have to cope with an influx of 30 million tourists every year - half of which are day-trippers who spend little to no money in the city. Tourists have been behaving so badly that the city has introduced new laws to now fine and evict misbehaving tourists.

  • Anti-tourism marches are spreading across Europe from Barcelona, San Sebastian, Reykjavik to Budapest, Dubrovnik, Amsterdam and beyond. Tourismphobia is real!

  • Ancient sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Machu Picchu in Peru are struggling with the sheer volume of tourists, increasing 20% year upon year.

  • Islands in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have been CLOSED because they are literally eroding underfoot and unable to handle the volume of tourists waste - “turned into cesspools”.

  • The Maldives, only 2 metres above sea level, has a growing plastic rubbish dump 12 metres high.

  • The tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun has been closed after moisture from tourist’s breath began to deteriorate it.

  • Iceland has seen it’s first climate change casualty - the Okjökul Glacier, who officially lost its glacier status after almost completely melting- An official memorial ceremony will be held in August 2019 to honour the glacier-that-was.

  • Tourists are breaking the rules, harming the environment and placing themselves in harm on an endless quest to obtain the ‘ultimate selfie‘ (did you know more people die each year selfies than shark attacks)

  • Bali’s groundwater supply may dry up next year, thanks to luxury hotels and their guests are sucking it dry.

  • Sacred sites and cultures are becoming more fragile - despite protests from tourists come October Uluru’s traditional owners have ban climbing of the rock.

  • Imagine what Tenzing and Hillary would think if they witnessed the traffic jams up Everest, especially knowing a majority these climbers have very limited mountaineering experience.

  • Don’t get us started on the dark side of wildlife tourism.

It is clear the winds of overtourism are strengthening and blow from every direction, with 'iconic' and 'bucket listed' places bearing the brunt. We must listen to these tell-tales and take action.

We must all take responsibility for a world we love exploring - from grassroots to government, cruise lines to airlines, mountain bikers to climbers and sailors - we all have an shared responsibility to travel and promote healthy experiences in a way that benefit the people and places we visit.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TRAVEL MORE SUSTAINABLY

  • Remember, those of us who can travel are highly privileged

  • Become more responsible, know the facts, be aware of your impact

  • Support ethical businesses and brands

  • Respect, learn and buy from locals

  • look for ways to give back and contribute to the society and places you visit

  • Wander where the WiFi is weak to re-change and find deeper connections

  • Perhaps don’t set sail on that giant cruise liner - unless you have done thorough research

  • Think twice when it comes to ‘captive wildlife’ experiences.

  • Travel out of peak season, avoid the crowds and spread the load

  • Leave no trace - become a camouflaged tourist

  • Avoid the mass and mainstream, discover Peak Experiences

  • Tread lightly, explore places in and around the ‘popular’ sights

  • Before booking accommodation understand the positive or negative impacts Airbnb can bring to a destination, then choose what you will support.

  • Look for adventures a little closer to home…

  • Calculate your personal carbon footprint from a flight and understand its impact - one metric ton of CO2 melts three square meters of Arctic sea ice, Sydney to London one way emits 3.6 metric tonnes per passenger!

  • Share photos of the ‘true experience’ not just the ‘crafted’ and ‘crowd-less’

  • Pass on insight and knowledge you collect along the way

  • Join our movement become an Adventure Junky

An Adventure Junky is a conscious and mindful traveller. They see the advantage of small groups versus mass tours. They aim to leave the community and environment with a net gain. They looks for opportunities to give back, to learn, to buy local, to travel lightly and respectfully. They want to share their positive experiences and educate others on their negative ones.

“Adventure Junkys believe that travel should contribute as much to the wellbeing of the people and places we visit, as to our own - and strive to do so.”

The Adventure Junky App is more than fun and games, the app is an ecosystem for leaders in sustainability - travellers, destinations, operators, gear suppliers or apparel companies alike to combine forces and achieve greater good.

With your help we’re building a global community that we reward for choosing and sharing more sustainable adventures. Over three quarters of the 1,500+ adventures featured on the app have been added by our community. To make the cut, adventures must meet two simple criteria - ‘high’ on experience, and ‘low’ on impact.

When managed well your adventures can be a positive game-changer for destinations. They creates jobs, attracts investment, drive infrastructure development. Sustainable travel practices can improve livelihood, education levels and quality of life for local people. It can refocus energy and action towards conservation, and help to preserve cultural traditions.

Remember your not just one traveller you're 1.6 billion of them! Imagine if we all travelled with passion, purpose and a common goal we’d not only combat the negative effects of overtourism, we’d ensure there is a diverse and thriving planet for future generations to explore - join our mission!

If you have further knowledge, strategies or thoughts on this matter please don't hesitate to contact us.