Learning the Overcrowded Lessons

At this year’s ITB Berlin Convention, Dr. David Ermen, Senior Manager, Lodging and Tourism Clients Group at PwC, takes a closer look at the factors surrounding overcrowding and steps stakeholders can take to bring back sustainable levels. We asked him to tell us about the issue.

Overcrowded destinations are those where the number of visitors exceed the carrying capacity of that particular location. This can be the ecological capacity, causing environmental damage, or social capacity, leading to objections from the local population. Most often these destinations are cities or attractions, rather than whole countries.

Some of the most common examples are cities, like Amsterdam or Barcelona, and famous attractions, like Machu Picchu in Peru. In some cases the overcrowding is seasonal and not during the entire year, which also poses management challenges.

What are the negative effects of overcrowded destinations?

Overcrowding in destinations has negative impacts on the environment, the local culture and population, and also on tourists. At the same time, tourists themselves are affected, because they often also do not feel comfortable in overcrowded destinations.

What are the recipes for success?

One of the problems I see is that destinations still set their growth targets in terms of number of arrivals, rather than looking at the types of tourists they would like to attract and the positive impact they want to generate from these visitors. The hotel industry has worked with RevPAR, measuring revenue per available capacity unit, rather than only occupancy, for a long time. Destinations need to go the same way and start working with new success indicators that measure yield, rather than occupancy.

How important is the ITB Berlin Convention when it comes to educating and informing the industry?

I think the ITB Berlin convention is a great platform for dialogue and discussion between different industry players. The presentations and panels provide valuable insights into the state of the industry and future trends.


  • Category: Destination. Wellness
  • Date: March 7, 2018 Time: 12pm – 12.45pm
  • Location: Convention Hall 7.1a, Auditorium New York 3

Photo : Dr. David Ermen Senior Manager, Lodging and Tourism Clients Group, PwC