Aug 19, 2019

2019's tourist crunch

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."

Go deeper

Chinese tourism to U.S. has dwindled in the wake of Trump's trade war

Newlyweds from Beijing, on Hollywood Boulevard. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty

After years of double-digit growth, the number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. and the amount they spend are shrinking, inflicting a hit on the $1.6 trillion travel industry.

The big picture: The inflection point was 2017, coinciding with President Trump's assumption of power and the intensification of U.S.-Chinese brinkmanship, according to data from the National Travel and Tourism Office, an industry association.

Go deeperArrowAug 19, 2019

The collapse of WOW Air could push Iceland into recession

A WOW Air plane. Photo: Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

In the months since Iceland's low-cost carrier WOW Air shuttered, the country's booming tourist industry — its largest — has suffered, spiking fears of a recession, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The airline helped to push Iceland's tourist numbers from a few hundred thousand in 2011 to 2.3 million by 2018, helping the North Atlantic nation to recover from the collapse of its banking system during the Great Recession. But visits from international visitors could drop by 16% this year — including 20% fewer Americans, who are regarded as bigger spenders.

Go deeper: Icelandic activists host funeral for nation's first glacier to go extinct

Keep ReadingArrowAug 26, 2019

Debates ensue over congestion pricing

Morning commute on a busy Manhattan street. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

How much cities should charge vehicles to drive on city streets and who should have to pay is the center of political debates, Chris Teale writes for Smart Cities Dive.

Driving the news: New York City is about to become the first to charge Manhattan drivers a congestion toll. Fees collected would fund public transit and infrastructure improvements.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019