Aug 19, 2019

2019's tourist crunch

Graffiti that says "Tourist go home"

Anti-tourist graffiti in Barcelona. Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP/GettyImages

There are way more people traveling, but there's only one Paris.

Why it matters: The world's most popular tourist sites are increasingly overrun. Some of Europe's most popular destinations have truly impressive tourist to local ratios, including Barcelona (19x), Amsterdam (18x), and Prague (6x), the BBC notes.

  • Ecologically sensitive sites like Cinque Terre and the Inca Trail are having to limit access for self-preservation.
  • Short-term rentals like Airbnb are a political flashpoint in cities facing housing crunches.
  • Locals suffer long waits and crowding on basic services like roads and mass transit.

The other side: Tourist cash is very real, and the economic infusions can make a major difference in local economies.

What's next: The solutions from these cities also sound quite a bit alike.

  • Expect to see more city-enforced quiet hours and Segway bans.
  • Don't get surprised by new rules on where tours (the guided ones, not random people) can go and when.
  • Cities like Prague and Amsterdam are also pushing tourists to explore quieter parts of the city.

The bottom line: "Managing a tourist destination is something like managing a natural resource," N.Y. Times columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote last year.

  • "A sustainable level of tourists brings widespread gains to the local economy, but too many ruin it for everyone. Cities that are looking to tame the number of tourists must manage a delicate balance — to gently discourage some forms of travel without appearing unwelcoming to others."
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