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Tourism
The Tourist Trap

The dark side of tourism came to the fore in 2017, leading to protests and the coining of a new term: overtourism. As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation lays out a new strategy, what role could attractions play in ensuring tourism is beneficial for residents and visitors alike? Kath Hudson reports

By Kath Hudson | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 4

Fuelled by cheap flights, greater affluence, the media and – more recently – new accommodation platforms, tourism has skyrocketed in the post-war period. International arrivals have increased from 25m in 1950, to more than 1.3bn in 2017. Growth of this recession-proof industry is projected to continue year-on-year and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts it reaching 1.8bn in 2030.

The tourism sector brings with it many benefits: it boosts economies, strengthens international ties, leads to the creation of more events and supports the protection of historic places and the restoration of traditional architecture. There are also trickle down benefits to other industries – the attractions industry being one of them.

However, when places become so geared around tourists that butchers and grocers give way to souvenir shops and most rental accommodation is for tourists, it starts to cause a problem for residents. Last year saw protests by locals in both Barcelona and Venice, complaining that lives in their home cities are becoming unsustainable due to congestion, the prohibitively high cost of living and noise. Tourism experts caution such popularity could eventually lead to the bubble bursting: as locals are forced to move out, the character of the city is lost and then the appeal disappears, along with the tourists.

Tackling overtourism
This situation has led to the start of a conversation on how to manage overtourism. UNWTO recently launched a report (see p59) which studied eight popular cities and concluded 11 strategies, and 68 measures to help destinations spread their visitors across the year and over undiscovered parts of the city.

The report says overtourism comes about through the absence of good management and uncontrolled development and that as numbers increase, tourism must be managed in a sustainable manner for the good of both visitors and local communities.

UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, believes there’s a pressing need to set a sustainable roadmap for urban tourism and is confident a solution can be found, saying: “This can be achieved through community engagement, congestion management, reduction of seasonality, careful planning that respects the limits of capacity and the specificities of each destination and product diversification.”

A successful approach
New York is an example of a popular city which manages its tourism successfully.

By actively promoting the off-season, as well as creating new destinations, such as The Rockaways and Governor’s Island, New York has managed to make a visit to the city far more than just a trip to the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

New York’s marketing arm, NYC and Company, gears much of its promotional activity to push the off-season – January to March. “This includes initiatives such as NYC Restaurant week, a signature dining programme involving up to 400 restaurants and also NYC Broadway week, where visitors can buy two-for-one theatre tickets,” says Christopher Heywood, senior vice president, global communications for NYC and Partners.

“The NYC Must-See Week is centred around visitor attractions, offering two-for-one admission to attractions, historic sites, museums, tours and performing arts venues across all five boroughs.”

Public transport also comes into it, with an improved and actively marketed NYC Ferry service, which makes it cheap and easy for visitors to explore other neighbourhoods in the city.

The importance of attractions
There is a great deal visitor attractions can do to ease tourist congestion. Florida, which has a US$60bn tourism industry, wants to be the world’s top travel destination and is aiming for 120m visitors this year. Good management and its theme parks, which both attract and soak up visitors, are key to the success.

The UNWTO report offers up many ways in which visitor attractions could help to ease the problems caused by overtourism, these include offering longer opening hours in peak season, encouraging off-season visits via programming and dynamic pricing, and popular attractions partnering up in marketing initiatives with less central sites, to drive traffic to less-visited areas.

Costa Rica’s approach

With much to recommend it in terms of wildlife, national parks and interesting geographical features, Costa Rica could easily have seen tourism undermine its USPs. For this reason, Visit CostaRica chose to approach tourism with a strategy to promote high-end, sustainable tourism, avoiding mass tourism.

Tourism products are built around providing beautiful natural experiences, with visitors educated on conservation. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute offers a Certificate for Tourism Sustainability which categorises businesses according to their sustainability. Already producing 99 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, Costa Rica aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021.

 



Costa Rica is building its tourism offer around natural experiences
UNWTO’s overtourism report

null,UNWTO has researched overtourism and released a report called Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions, which examined tourism in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Salzburg and Tallinn.

The majority of people questioned didn’t think there should be a limitation on numbers. UNWTO believes good tourism management enables tourism to grow in ways which benefit locals and visitors.

 



UNWTO’s overtourism report
Strategies proposed by UNWTO

Promote the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond
Host events in less visited places, implement travel cards and create a joint identity of the city and the surrounding area. Attractions can play their part by increasing capacity and dwell time.

Promote time-based dispersal of visitors
Promote experiences and events in off-peak months and use new technologies to stimulate dynamic, time-based dispersal, as well as dynamic pricing.

Stimulate new visitor itineraries
Get people off the beaten path with guided tours in less-visited places, market hidden treasures and offer combined discounts for attractions and experiences. Create virtual reality applications to famous sites and attractions to complement on-site visits.

Review and adapt regulation
This calls for the review of a number of measures which have an impact on tourism, including the regulation and taxation of new tourism services and accommodation; regulation of access to certain areas of the city for tourist-related activities and the review of opening times of attractions, as well as the creation of parking at the edge of the city and in pedestrian-only areas.

Improve city infrastructure and facilities
Create a city-wide plan for traffic management with secondary routes which is available for peak times, make public transport better suited for visitors, create safe cycling routes and stimulate bike rentals, set up safe and attractive walking routes, safeguard the quality of cultural and heritage attractions.

Create city experiences which benefit both residents and visitors
Develop the city to fit with the residents’ needs and consider tourists as temporary residents, integrate visitor facilities within local festivities and activities, extend opening times of visitor attractions and promote art and culture initiatives, such as street art, to create fresh perspectives and expand visitation to new areas.

Ensure local communities benefit from tourism
Strive to create decent jobs and engage local communities in the development of new tourism products and stimulate the development of impoverished neighbourhoods through tourism.

Enhance visitor segmentation
Adapt marketing to target visitor segments which have the lowest impact on the city and discourage certain visitor segments.

Communicate with and engage local stakeholders
Create a tourism management group of local stakeholders, organise local discussion platforms for residents, encourage residents to share content about their city on social media and unite disjointed communities.

Communicate with and engage visitors
Create awareness of tourism impact among visitors, educate visitors on local values, traditions and regulations, provide adequate information about traffic restrictions, parking facilities, fees etc.

Set monitoring and response measures
Monitor key indicators such as seasonal fluctuations in demand, arrivals and expenditures, patterns of visitation to attractions etc. Create contingency plans for peak periods and emergency situations. Advance use of big data and new technology to monitor tourism performance.

 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

Amsterdam is a tourism-reliant city that would benefit from UNWTO’s proposed strategies
Overtourism is becoming a major issue in some of the world’s most popular visitor destinations Credit: shutterstock
Zurab Pololikashvili became UNWTO secretary general on 1 January 2018
Christopher Heywood is senior vice president, global communications for NYC and Company
Governors Island is one example of good tourism management in New York Credit: shutterstock
Credit: shutterstock
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Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Tourism
The Tourist Trap

The dark side of tourism came to the fore in 2017, leading to protests and the coining of a new term: overtourism. As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation lays out a new strategy, what role could attractions play in ensuring tourism is beneficial for residents and visitors alike? Kath Hudson reports

By Kath Hudson | Published in Attractions Management 2018 issue 4

Fuelled by cheap flights, greater affluence, the media and – more recently – new accommodation platforms, tourism has skyrocketed in the post-war period. International arrivals have increased from 25m in 1950, to more than 1.3bn in 2017. Growth of this recession-proof industry is projected to continue year-on-year and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts it reaching 1.8bn in 2030.

The tourism sector brings with it many benefits: it boosts economies, strengthens international ties, leads to the creation of more events and supports the protection of historic places and the restoration of traditional architecture. There are also trickle down benefits to other industries – the attractions industry being one of them.

However, when places become so geared around tourists that butchers and grocers give way to souvenir shops and most rental accommodation is for tourists, it starts to cause a problem for residents. Last year saw protests by locals in both Barcelona and Venice, complaining that lives in their home cities are becoming unsustainable due to congestion, the prohibitively high cost of living and noise. Tourism experts caution such popularity could eventually lead to the bubble bursting: as locals are forced to move out, the character of the city is lost and then the appeal disappears, along with the tourists.

Tackling overtourism
This situation has led to the start of a conversation on how to manage overtourism. UNWTO recently launched a report (see p59) which studied eight popular cities and concluded 11 strategies, and 68 measures to help destinations spread their visitors across the year and over undiscovered parts of the city.

The report says overtourism comes about through the absence of good management and uncontrolled development and that as numbers increase, tourism must be managed in a sustainable manner for the good of both visitors and local communities.

UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, believes there’s a pressing need to set a sustainable roadmap for urban tourism and is confident a solution can be found, saying: “This can be achieved through community engagement, congestion management, reduction of seasonality, careful planning that respects the limits of capacity and the specificities of each destination and product diversification.”

A successful approach
New York is an example of a popular city which manages its tourism successfully.

By actively promoting the off-season, as well as creating new destinations, such as The Rockaways and Governor’s Island, New York has managed to make a visit to the city far more than just a trip to the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

New York’s marketing arm, NYC and Company, gears much of its promotional activity to push the off-season – January to March. “This includes initiatives such as NYC Restaurant week, a signature dining programme involving up to 400 restaurants and also NYC Broadway week, where visitors can buy two-for-one theatre tickets,” says Christopher Heywood, senior vice president, global communications for NYC and Partners.

“The NYC Must-See Week is centred around visitor attractions, offering two-for-one admission to attractions, historic sites, museums, tours and performing arts venues across all five boroughs.”

Public transport also comes into it, with an improved and actively marketed NYC Ferry service, which makes it cheap and easy for visitors to explore other neighbourhoods in the city.

The importance of attractions
There is a great deal visitor attractions can do to ease tourist congestion. Florida, which has a US$60bn tourism industry, wants to be the world’s top travel destination and is aiming for 120m visitors this year. Good management and its theme parks, which both attract and soak up visitors, are key to the success.

The UNWTO report offers up many ways in which visitor attractions could help to ease the problems caused by overtourism, these include offering longer opening hours in peak season, encouraging off-season visits via programming and dynamic pricing, and popular attractions partnering up in marketing initiatives with less central sites, to drive traffic to less-visited areas.

Costa Rica’s approach

With much to recommend it in terms of wildlife, national parks and interesting geographical features, Costa Rica could easily have seen tourism undermine its USPs. For this reason, Visit CostaRica chose to approach tourism with a strategy to promote high-end, sustainable tourism, avoiding mass tourism.

Tourism products are built around providing beautiful natural experiences, with visitors educated on conservation. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute offers a Certificate for Tourism Sustainability which categorises businesses according to their sustainability. Already producing 99 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, Costa Rica aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021.

 



Costa Rica is building its tourism offer around natural experiences
UNWTO’s overtourism report

null,UNWTO has researched overtourism and released a report called Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions, which examined tourism in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Salzburg and Tallinn.

The majority of people questioned didn’t think there should be a limitation on numbers. UNWTO believes good tourism management enables tourism to grow in ways which benefit locals and visitors.

 



UNWTO’s overtourism report
Strategies proposed by UNWTO

Promote the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond
Host events in less visited places, implement travel cards and create a joint identity of the city and the surrounding area. Attractions can play their part by increasing capacity and dwell time.

Promote time-based dispersal of visitors
Promote experiences and events in off-peak months and use new technologies to stimulate dynamic, time-based dispersal, as well as dynamic pricing.

Stimulate new visitor itineraries
Get people off the beaten path with guided tours in less-visited places, market hidden treasures and offer combined discounts for attractions and experiences. Create virtual reality applications to famous sites and attractions to complement on-site visits.

Review and adapt regulation
This calls for the review of a number of measures which have an impact on tourism, including the regulation and taxation of new tourism services and accommodation; regulation of access to certain areas of the city for tourist-related activities and the review of opening times of attractions, as well as the creation of parking at the edge of the city and in pedestrian-only areas.

Improve city infrastructure and facilities
Create a city-wide plan for traffic management with secondary routes which is available for peak times, make public transport better suited for visitors, create safe cycling routes and stimulate bike rentals, set up safe and attractive walking routes, safeguard the quality of cultural and heritage attractions.

Create city experiences which benefit both residents and visitors
Develop the city to fit with the residents’ needs and consider tourists as temporary residents, integrate visitor facilities within local festivities and activities, extend opening times of visitor attractions and promote art and culture initiatives, such as street art, to create fresh perspectives and expand visitation to new areas.

Ensure local communities benefit from tourism
Strive to create decent jobs and engage local communities in the development of new tourism products and stimulate the development of impoverished neighbourhoods through tourism.

Enhance visitor segmentation
Adapt marketing to target visitor segments which have the lowest impact on the city and discourage certain visitor segments.

Communicate with and engage local stakeholders
Create a tourism management group of local stakeholders, organise local discussion platforms for residents, encourage residents to share content about their city on social media and unite disjointed communities.

Communicate with and engage visitors
Create awareness of tourism impact among visitors, educate visitors on local values, traditions and regulations, provide adequate information about traffic restrictions, parking facilities, fees etc.

Set monitoring and response measures
Monitor key indicators such as seasonal fluctuations in demand, arrivals and expenditures, patterns of visitation to attractions etc. Create contingency plans for peak periods and emergency situations. Advance use of big data and new technology to monitor tourism performance.

 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

Amsterdam is a tourism-reliant city that would benefit from UNWTO’s proposed strategies
Overtourism is becoming a major issue in some of the world’s most popular visitor destinations Credit: shutterstock
Zurab Pololikashvili became UNWTO secretary general on 1 January 2018
Christopher Heywood is senior vice president, global communications for NYC and Company
Governors Island is one example of good tourism management in New York Credit: shutterstock
Credit: shutterstock
 


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