‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions

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‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions

‘Overtourism’ or ‘tourismphobia’ are expressions that have caught the attention of many recently. They demonstrate the challenges of administering the increasing tourism traffic into urban locations and the effect of tourism on cities and its residents. More than half of the world’s population lives in the cities and is foreseen to increase to 70 percent by 2050.

Further, there has been an observed growth in international tourists from 25 million international arrivals in 1950 to over 1.3 billion in 2017. This number is set to increase 3.3 percent annually until 2030 per year. The increasing number of urban tourists are therefore also adding onto the use of natural resources which leads to sociocultural impact and attributes to a growing pressure on infrastructure, mobility and other facilities.

Tourism is one of the few economic sectors that has been flourishing across the globe, translating into socioeconomic development, employment, infrastructure development and export. Hence, it is important to ensure that urban tourism is made parallel with the role of cities in the global objective.

According to universities, ‘overtourism’ can be termed as “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experiences in a negative way”. Unlike responsible tourism which is about leveraging onto tourism to improve the standard of living and places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the depreciation simultaneously. Thereby witnessing a lack of good management and unbounded development. With an ever expanding tourism, tourism have to be established and managed through a feasible method for both visitors and local communities.

Smart technologies are deemed the most compelling solution to handling congestion management. However, they do not suffice. Addressing the challenges facing urban tourism requires immense collaboration between various stakeholders, which is a constant effort, particularly if stakeholders have conflicting interests.

The complexity of the economic, social and environmental challenges encountered by cities today is dependent on the stakeholders ability to rethink their present practices and source for innovative solutions. Urban tourism is a key contributor to the socio-economic development of cities and the contentment of their residents and should contribute to develop better cities for all: citizens, investors and visitors. However, measures cannot place emphasis only on changing tourist visit numbers and tourist behaviour. The key is the local stakeholders. To ensure that tourism is both recognised and understood by residents, it is important to be aware of residents’ concerns and distress and make them a part of the tourism plan.

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Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – “The Way Forward: Hospitality and Tourism Education Convergence with Industry 4.0” which will be held from 5-7 December 2018 in Kuching, Malaysia.