One thing we have learnt this week – tourism pressures

electric bus island of the monksThere has been a lot in the news this week over tourism pressures.  From protests and even attacks in various parts of Spain to huge pressures on the Isle of Skye and continuing problems in Venice we do seem to have reached some kind of tipping point as far as the locals in very popular tourist destinations are concerned.  Controversy abounds over Airbnb and the tax take from its rentals and pressure its putting on local services and even places for locals to live.  in the Balearic islands people who rent out there rooms without a licence will face an enormous euro 400,000 fine.  There are questions over the trickle down effect of money reaching the locals and of course of the sustainability of travel due to climate change.

I cannot claim to be anything other than part of the problem of tourist pressures.  I have been to some of the top tourist destinations in the past (including Venice, which is under huge pressure).  I also live in a country that is a top 10 and in a city that is one of the most popular destinations in the world with a huge international festival on at the moment.  I see change around me.  My near neighbours are doing Airbnb in their house and short term lets opposite.  They are doing nothing illegal to the best of my knowledge.  The traffic today seemed far worse cycling home, tourists?  Maybe.  Despite the pressures I don’t feel my adopted home is being ruined by tourism.  Where there are problems they are due to planning decisions made by the council for other reasons.  The local economy has to benefit to an extent due to local renting out their rooms and the proliferation of restaurants.  What to do about tourism pressures?

Firstly, providing people are not behaving illegally then we should welcome tourists to where we live.  Violence and intimidation have no place in what is supposed to be a meeting of minds and cultures.

Second, its up to us to make sure by pressuring governments that companies and individuals pay their fair share of tax.  This is course easier in your home country and in democracies.  There is an argument for restricting Airbnb’s and the like through the planning system.

Third, we need to green up transport (the Dutch bus above being a very small example) as far as possible.

Last, we cannot say that Chinese or Indians cannot travel any more than anyone else (most tourists where I live are white anyway).

Ultimately we all need to travel more slowly and less often.  However I recognise the above are weak and partial solutions to what is becoming a major global issue.  We live in a very narcissistic culture and with rising middle class in the developing world these tourism pressures are only going to increase.  Any ideas welcome

Neil

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