International Travel Industry Needs New Strategies to Manage “Overtourism”

New solutions are needed to manage global tourism growth: ITB Berlin exclusively publishes World Travel Monitor Forum results.

Overtourism” has made headlines worldwide over the past year due to record visitor numbers at many destinations, prompting well-publicised protests by residents and diverse measures by local authorities in some places. Over -crowding is also negatively affecting travellers themselves, and the international travel and tourism industry needs to find solutions to manage visitor numbers without restricting growth, experts agreed at the recent 25th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy.


Around 25% of all international tourists had the feeling that their destination had been “over-crowded” last year, according to a special World Travel Monitor representative survey of 29,000 international travellers in 24 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas conducted in September 2017. Moreover, 9% – equivalent to around 100 million tourists – said this over-crowding had actually affected the quality of their outbound trip. At 13%, this feeling was the highest amongst families with children and young people under 34. In terms of origin regions, 15% of Asians, 9% of North Americans and 8% of Europeans said their trip experience had been affected by excessive visitor numbers. Hence, Asian outbound travellers seem to be more sensitive with regard to “overcrowding”.


Contrary to public perceptions, the worst overcrowding is not always in big cities, according to World Travel Monitor figures. Ski resorts are the most crowded tourism locations. Nearly one international traveller in five (19 percent) said their winter sports holiday had been affected by overtourism, resulting, for example, in long waits for ski lifts. Other types of holidays were fairly equally impacted by high numbers of visitors, suggesting that overtourism is a general problem rather than restricted, for example, to cities. About one traveller in ten described the quality of their touring holiday, cruise, city trip, sun & beach holiday or countryside holiday as affected by too many tourists. The most affected cities include Guangzhou (24%), Shanghai (23%), Beijing (21%), Amsterdam and Istanbul (both 19%), and Barcelona, Florence and Venice (all 18%), according to World Travel Monitor respondents.