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Too Many People Want to Travel

Late in May, the Louvre closed. The museum’s workers walked out, arguing that overcrowding at the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo had made the place dangerous and unmanageable. “The Louvre suffocates,” the workers’ union said in a statement written in French, citing the “total inadequacy” of the museum’s facilities to manage the high volume of visitors.

Half a world away, a conga line of mountaineers waited to approach the summit of Mount Everest, queued up on a knife’s-edge ridge, looking as if they had chosen to hit the DMV at lunchtime. A photograph of the pileup went viral; nearly a dozen climbers died, with guides and survivors arguing that overcrowding at the world’s highest peak was a primary cause, if not the only one.

Such incidents are not isolated. Crowds of Instagrammers caused a public-safety debacle during a California poppy super bloom. An “extreme environmental crisis” fomented a “summer of action” against visitors to the Spanish island of Mallorca. Barcelona and Venice and Reykjavik and Dubrovnik, inundated. Beaches in Thailand and Mexico and the Philippines, destroyed. Natural wonders from the Sierra Nevadas to the Andes, jeopardized. Religious sites from Cambodia to India to Rome, damaged.

This phenomenon is known as overtourism, and like breakfast margaritas on an all-inclusive cruise, it is suddenly everywhere. A confluence of macroeconomic factors and changing business trends have led more tourists crowding to popular destinations. That has led to environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals in many places. And it has cities around the world asking one question: Is there anything to be done about being too popular?

Locals have, of course, complained about tourists since time immemorial, and the masses have disrespected, thronged, and vandalized wonders natural and fabricated for as long as they have been visiting them. But tourism as we know it was a much more limited affair until recent decades. Through the early 19th century, travel for personal fulfillment was the provenance of “wealthy nobles and educated professionals” only, people for whom it was a “demonstrative expression of their social class, which communicated power, status, money and leisure,” as one history of tourism notes. It was only in the 1840s that commercialized mass tourism developed, growing as the middle class grew.

If tourism is a capitalist phenomenon, overtourism is its demented late-capitalist cousin: selfie-stick deaths, all-you-can-eat ships docking at historic ports, stag nights that end in property crimes, the live-streaming of the ruination of fragile natural habitats, et cetera. There are just too many people thronging popular destinations—30 million visitors a year to Barcelona, population 1.6 million; 20 million visitors to Venice, population 50,000. La Rambla and the Piazza San Marco fit only so many people, and the summertime now seems like a test to find out just how many that is.

The root cause of this surge in tourism is macroeconomic. The middle class is global now, and tens of millions of people have acquired the means to travel over the past few decades. China is responsible for much of this growth, with the number of overseas trips made by its citizens rising from 10.5 million in 2000 to an estimated 156 million last year. But it is not solely responsible. International-tourist arrivals around the world have gone from a little less than 70 million as of 1960 to 1.4 billion today: Mass tourism, again, is a very new thing and a very big thing.

Business trends have also contributed to turning paradise to paradise lost. Cruise vacations are vastly more popular than they once were, with the diesel-belching vessels disgorging thousands of passengers at a time onto port towns. Supercheap airlines using satellite airports have dramatically cut the cost of hopscotching around Europe, the Americas, and Asia, encouraging travelers to take 1 billion flights on budget airlines every year. And platforms such as Airbnb have increased the supply of rentable rooms in cities from Rio to Delhi, reducing search friction for travelers, boosting cities’ carrying capacity, and bumping up rents for existing residents—an estimated 4 percent in Barcelona, for instance.Social media are at work, too, with apps such as Instagram leading tourists to pitch over cliffs and clog vital roadways in search of the perfect pic, and sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor making restaurants, museums, and beaches discoverable and thus ruinable. Overtourism itself is a media phenomenon as much as it is anything else. The word catapulted into common use in 2017, with wall-to-wall coverage of the problems in Venice, Bali, and elsewhere helping to drive the global backlash against tourists as well as the backlash to the backlash.

As for the backlash to the backlash: Some concerns about overtourism seem enormously overblown, and many local complaints about visitors are shot through with classism and racism. The majority of tourist destinations have no problem with the number of visitors they receive—would it even be possible for Orlando or Vegas to be over-touristed, logistically or spiritually? Travelers and their foreign direct investment remain a vital lifeblood for tiny Italian towns and big American parks and thousands of places in between. And while many sites are inarguably overcrowded, very few cities and towns are; the problem is mostly one of beaches and blocks and buildings, not of neighborhoods or regions.

There’s too much of a good thing in some of these spots, and mayors and city councils are doing their part to take it away. A number of places have implemented or expanded or proposed tourist taxes, among them Amsterdam, Bali, Edinburgh, Ireland, Rome, and Venice. These levies on hotels and day trips both reduce the number of visitors to a given place and provide it with revenue to improve infrastructure and defray the damage that tourists inevitably cause. Governments are also rolling out regulations, such as bans on tour buses in Rome and gating-and-ticketing in Barcelona. Those kinds of measures stand to become more important in the coming years, as the global middle class gets bigger, social media more ubiquitous, and travel cheaper.

These phenomena inevitably mean more complaints from locals, and more damage and lines and selfies and bad behavior. But they also mean more cross-cultural exposure, more investment, more global connection, more democratization of travel, and perhaps more awe and wonder. Even overtourism has its upsides.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/crowds-tourists-are-ruining-popular-destinations/590767/

Russia Considers Ways To Boost Tourism – OpEd

On the eve of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2019), government officials and tourism experts have been looking at systematic ways to remove barriers, adopt marketing strategies to improve the current inbound tourism figures and get effective institutional organizations to promote Russia’s image.

The SPIEF-2019, which has the theme ‘Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda,’ will take place on June 6-8 in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012.

The official opening ceremony of the Forum on June 6 will be attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Eurasian Economic Commission Chairman of the Board Tigran Sargsyan, President of Moldova Igor Dodon, and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov. The meeting will be moderated by NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons.

According to Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, each year, the tourism industry adds points of interest. There was an up of almost 15 percent in 2018. The domestic tourism flows totalled 60 million people. Inbound tourism to the Russian Federation was just over 24 million.

Golodets strongly believes that infrastructure development drives tourism. She gave the example of the improvement of infrastructure in the Crimea, Russia’s newly created autonomous region.

“Any infrastructural changes or transport changes immediately lead to an increase in the flow of tourism. With the construction of the Crimean Bridge, we see how much the flow of tourism has increased to the Republic of Crimea over the last year – by 29%. Crimea ranked the fifth region in the Russian Federation in terms of the number of winter visits, the flow of tourists is changing following changes in infrastructure,” says Golodets.

The industry’s development is primarily due to the public-private partnership scheme and better business climate that has encouraged and attracted foreign hotels. The number of hotels has increased by 40 times, the number of restaurants has also grown by 25 times, and the number of items on display has increased by several dozen times, observes Oleg Kuvshinnikov, Governor of Vologda Region and Chairman of the Healthy Cities, Districts, and Villages Association.

Some state officials argue that tourism infrastructure remained underdeveloped due to poor investment. Besides, there were shortcomings in the regulatory framework for investment control by the Russian government. Due to constraints, says Sergey Galkin, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, “there is a disastrous lack of investment in infrastructure”.

Increasing investment efficiency and enhancing the level of interagency and interregional collaboration are necessary for creating some models in the industry, according to the Deputy Minister.

“As for a model, it should include an interagency component because tourism is not actually a single industry, but an assembly of elements from various industries. And here, interagency collaboration is a key element of success,” Galkin points out.

One of the problems is the low profit margin of the tourism business. “The concessional lending program, unfortunately, is not working as we would like.” The figure stood at 6.5 percent, now it stands at 8.5 percent. Investments have been paying for about 10 years. But these are far form “entirely effective,” says Sergey Kirvonsov, Deputy Chairman, Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism, and Youth Affairs.

“Business has seen a catastrophic increase in costs, and we are all adding to the product. And we are becoming uncompetitive. As a result, Sochi and Crimea are starting to lose out to Turkey. The resort tax and its administration have been shifted onto the shoulders of business,” notes Aleksey Kozhevnikov, Senior Vice President, Russian Export Center (REC).

“We came up with the ‘Green Corridor for Tourists’ program. It’s a green corridor for business. We have developed a whole system of benefits: they include tax breaks, a reduction in the service delivery time, support for investment projects, and free connection to utilities,” says Alexander Drozdenko, Governor of Leningrad Region.

Expert research shows that foreign tourists are increasingly interested in luxury hotels and resorts with perfect service, well-trained and dedicated workforce with passion for service excellence, a charming and fascinating mixture of Russian culture and modern life, good infrastructure with wonderful road networks and airports.

The general lack of knowledge and information about Russia’s tourism destinations continues to be a major challenge. What seems to be important now is identifying priorities in the tourism sector. Russia is a huge country, but its resources are limited. There is no way to develop all 85 regions within a short period.

“You can create a tourism product from Russia that can satisfy any demand as a promising unique tourist destination. We must not miss-out on the wave of the 2018 World Cup legacy. These opportunities need to be used in the most concentrated way possible,” suggests Zarina Doguzova, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism.

The World Cup fans arrived from the United States, Europe and Asia to Russia. According to some statistics, about five million foreigners visited the country over this period from June 14 through July 15, 2018 – the highest number among foreigners were fans from the United States, Brazil and Germany.

Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, during her weekly media briefing, expressed great satisfaction and added that the Ministry continued receiving messages about the enthusiasm regarding the organization of the World Cup, the atmosphere surrounding the event, infrastructure and the country in general.

According to official reports released by the Presidential Press Service and the Presidential Executive Office, the initiative was crafted to promote public diplomacy and raise Russia’s image abroad.

Referring to the opening of the World Cup, President Vladimir Putin said: “We prepared responsibly for this major event and did our best so that fans could immerse themselves in the atmosphere of a magnificent football festival and, of course, enjoy their stay in Russia – open, hospitable, friendly Russia – and find new friends, new like-minded people.”

As a further step, the Russian Foreign Ministry has also signed bilateral visa-free travel agreements with Asian countries, for example, China, Japan and South Korea, and with more than ten Latin American countries to promote the tourism industry.

According to officials, it “opens wide possibilities for the development of business, cultural, humanitarian and tourist contacts” and Moscow plans to take further steps to expand the geography of visa-free travel for Russian nationals and foreigners.

Source:https://www.eurasiareview.com/04062019-russia-considers-ways-to-boost-tourism-oped/

As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.

The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners, a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.O

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.

“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”

Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

Source: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/

As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.
The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners,a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.

Opening the gates

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.
“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”
Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

By: Feargus O’Sullivan – Source:
https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/

Climate change can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and tourism Climate change can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and tourism

Climate change affects everyone, and in the Black Hills it can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and the tourism industry.

Scientists have to look at trends over many years to see how the global temperature increases. School of Mines professor Bill Capehart says just because we don’t always see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. USDA growing zones are slowly shifting north, which can cause big changes for what crops can be grown and when. Tourism also plays a large role in the economy of the Black Hills. Warmer summer temperatures might cause people to stay in the area longer, but Capehart warns that climate change could have a negative impact on this industry too.

“The mountain pine beetle is a major concern for us here in the Black Hills. It is harder and harder to freeze them out as the temperatures get higher and higher. That is a huge issue for our tourism economy and also for the safety of our region in respect to wild land fire,” says Capehart.

He also says that small changes from one person won’t solve the problem. He insists that to truly make a difference, large scale changes to energy infrastructure are needed.

Source: https://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Climate-change-can-cause-problems-for-ranchers-farmers-and-tourism-510595591.html

The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism is now a GSTC-recognized standard

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announced that the Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.

The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism (MS 165:2019) was developed to guide the sustainable development of the tourism industry in Mauritius. It is meant for any tourism business or any tourism-related activity to enhance its sustainability performance.

The focus of the Sustainability Tourism Standard is to address requirements of the environmental impacts and its effect on land, air, water and other organism and ecosystem of the island. The social-cultural impacts that affect local communities, social structure and cultures as well as economic impacts categorised as direct, indirect or induced. These requirements to be measured, monitored and evaluated for continual improvement of the sustainability of the tourism industry in Mauritius.

“We are proud to welcome Mauritius as a destination that adopts an integrated approach to sustainable tourism development through comprehensive standards that include all aspects of sustainability: management, social/community, cultural, and environmental,” says Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC. “This is especially important for an island that possesses and offers to their tourists an incredible variety of resources and attractions.”

“This GSTC recognition of our local standard is a testimony of the professional work undertook by the team from the Mauritius Standards Bureau and officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Authority,” says Khoudijah Boodoo, Director, Mauritius Tourism Authority. “We strongly believe that through this international recognition, the local stakeholders would take the best of advantages to levelling up their operations to meet best sustainability practices. In line with the ‘Sustainable Island – Mauritius Project’, the MS165:2019 has an ever prominent role to play, consolidating our positioning as a high-level tourist destination while ensuring the sustainability of the Industry.”

Yusuf Foondun, Head of Quality Assurance Unit, Mauritius Standards Bureau, says that the Tourism sector has been one of the major economic pillars of Mauritius for a long time. “We believe that adopting the Sustainable Tourism Standard – MS 165:2019 will revamp our image on the international arena as one of the most prestigious tourism destinations which takes care at protecting the biodiversity of the island and preserving its ecological balance, thus ensuring sustainable development of the tourism sector.”

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that the certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify includes the minimum elements to ensure sustainability. The purpose of the GSTC programs is to use a common and clear definition of what ‘sustainable tourism’ means, as well as to reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.

“Mauritius is a destination of pleasure with the Mauritian hospitality composing of the rainbow and peaceful population originating from India, China, Africa, and Europe. The Sun, Sand, Sea and Pure Air is the strength of our Island, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.”

The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority in Mauritius have already endorsed a pilot project for the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Standard in hotels and tours its certification by the Mauritius Standards Bureau: “The Certification of tourism operators to MS 165:2019 can take a better position in the tourism market to distinguish them from any tourist operators that may be guilty of destroying the environment, society, culture, and economy of the island and the globe.”

To date, 11 destination standards, and 32 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms.

The GSTC will continue to work with organizations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process which relates to the quality and neutrality of their certification process. Achieving a GSTC-Accredited status affirms that their certification process follows the highest international standards while further distinguishing their standards and processes amongst other certification programs.

By: Vicky Karantzavelou – Source:
https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/the-mauritian-standard-on-sustainable-tourism-is-now-a-gstc-recognized-standard

Chinese tourism to U.S. drops for 1st time in 15 years amid trade war

After more than a decade of rapid growth, Chinese travel to the U.S. is falling as the Trump administration wages a trade war with China. And that has U.S. cities, malls and other tourist spots scrambling to reverse the trend.

Travel from China to the U.S. fell 5.7% in 2018 to 2.9 million visitors, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office, which collects data from U.S. Customs forms. It was the first time since 2003 that Chinese travel to the U.S. slipped from the prior year.

Friction between the U.S. and China is one reason for the slowdown. The Trump administration first imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines in January 2018, and the trade war has escalated from there. The U.S. now has a 25% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, while China has retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. imports.

Last summer, China issued a travel warning for the U.S., telling its citizens to beware of shootings, robberies and high costs for medical care. The U.S. shot back with its own warning about travel to China.

Economic concerns

Wang Haixia, who works at an international trade company in Beijing, traveled to the U.S. in May for her sister’s graduation. She and her family planned to spend 10 days in Illinois and New York.

Wang says she might have stayed longer but doesn’t want to contribute to the U.S. economy amid the trade war.

“I cannot cancel this trip because I promised my sister I would go to her commencement,” she said. “My relatives will contribute more than 100,000 yuan to America just staying for 10 days, and that’s enough.”

There are other reasons behind the slowdown. Economic uncertainty in China has travelers at the lower end of the market vacationing closer to home, says Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute, which found that 56% of travelers leaving China in the last three months of 2018 went to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan compared with 50% in 2017. Those who do travel farther are seeking out more exotic destinations like Croatia, Morocco and Nepal.

Higher Chinese incomes

Chinese travel to the U.S. had already been moderating from its breakneck pace earlier this decade. In 2000, 249,000 Chinese visited the U.S. That tripled to 802,000 by 2010, then tripled again by 2015, in part because of higher incomes, better long-haul flight connections and an easing of visa restrictions, according to McKinsey, the consulting firm.

The U.S. welcomed more than 3 million Chinese visitors in 2016 and 2017. But year-over-year growth edged up just 4% in 2017, the slowest pace in more than a decade.

Most industry-watchers agree that any downturn is temporary, since China’s middle class will only continue to expand. The U.S. government forecasts Chinese tourism will grow 2% this year to 3.3 million visitors, and will reach 4.1 million visitors in 2023.

“Even if the Chinese economy cools, it’s still going to continue to be a very good source of growth for the travel industry,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research for the U.S. Travel Association.

Travel downturn

In general, international travel to the U.S. has been declining. Overall data for 2018 hasn’t been released yet, but international travel fell 2% in 2016 and was flat in 2017.

But because China commands some of the highest tourism traffic to the U.S., any falloff will be felt by destinations that have come to rely on Chinese spending power. In 2017, the country had the fifth highest number of U.S.-bound tourists, behind Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan. Ten years earlier, China wasn’t even on the top 10 list, falling behind countries like Germany, France, South Korea and Australia, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

China didn’t crack the top 10 list until 2011 and has been climbing ever since. Spending by Chinese visitors — which doesn’t include students — ballooned more than 600% between 2008 and 2016, to nearly $18.9 billion. In 2017, that fell by 1% to $18.8 billion, or about 12% of overall tourism spending.

To hold onto those dollars, experts say the tourism industry must do more to keep up with Chinese travelers and their changing needs.

Social media

Larry Yu, a professor of hospitality management at George Washington University, notes that Chinese tourists — particularly younger ones — are increasingly planning trips using social media apps like WeChat and are less likely to book through big tour groups. They have also rapidly adopted smartphone-based payment systems.

Destinations should invest in those technologies now if they want to continue attracting Chinese tourists, says David Becker, former CEO of Attract China, a New York-based travel consultancy.

“A lot of companies looked at the Chinese market as easy money, but we have to be relevant to the Chinese,” Becker said. Attract China, for instance, has helped luxury stores in Manhattan incorporate Jeenie, a live translation app, and add Alipay and WeChat Pay for mobile payments.

Others have also been stepping up their efforts. The Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles used to cater to busloads of Chinese tourists. Now, it’s focusing on small groups of less than 10 VIP shoppers, says Susan Vance, the mall’s marketing and sponsorship director. The mall has also pushed stores to offer China UnionPay, a digital payment service. More than 100 stores now have it, Vance says, up from three in 2014.

Tourism officials are also catching onto WeChat. In late 2017, Washington D.C. became the first U.S. city to launch an interactive guide in the app. Chinese travelers can use it to get directions to attractions, access audio tours in Mandarin and find dining and shopping. The city’s marketing office has one staff member dedicated to WeChat.

Washington also recently launched a Welcome China program that teaches hotels, restaurants and other venues about Chinese customs and encourages them to offer things like Chinese-language menus or in-room slippers. Forty-four hotels and a handful of restaurants have signed on.

Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, the city’s marketing office, said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Washington doubled in the last five years before falling slightly in 2017. But Ferguson, who traveled to China last month to meet with tourism officials, said there’s still significant interest in travel to the U.S.

“We’re beefing up our efforts because we see there’s so much potential for growth,” he said.

Source:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chinese-tourism-to-u-s-drops-for-1st-time-in-15-years-amid-trade-war/

Tourism leaders look at impacts on natural resources

Staff with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program know one side of Cannon Beach’s popular landmark is not like the other.

The tide pools that are open for the public to walk near and poke their fingers into have a wealth of creatures, but even more life abounds in the areas closed off to people, said Alan Quimby, an environmental interpreter for the outreach and educational organization, during a busy April morning at low tide.

That morning, he was splitting his time between pointing out puffins and reminding people to stay out of the protected marine garden around Haystack Rock. They kept coming anyway, seemingly deaf to the instructions Quimby gave prior groups and oblivious to signs that told them to stay out.

In Ecola State Park, visitors intent on getting down to beaches where no established access exists exacerbate erosion on coastal cliffs when they clamber down anyway. Park staff have started to add portable toilets where they’ve never had them before to curb the issue of human waste on increasingly popular hiking trails.

Tourism is a billion dollar industry in Oregon and millions of those dollars find a home at the coast. But as the number of visitors continues to grow, tourism leaders are rethinking their approach and the environmental impacts of hosting so many people.

Last week, the newly formed North Coast Tourism Management Network, which includes representatives from Clatsop and Tillamook counties, looked at three possible projects proposed for grant funding, all tied to environmental stewardship.

The ideas include:

• A transportation pilot program in Cannon Beach to encourage the use of public transportation and a push to provide information about local resources for bike rentals, local transit and walking maps.

• Trailhead and beach ambassadors at heavily trafficked outdoor sites like Ecola State Park, Cape Falcon, Rockaway Beach and Cape Kiwanda.

• And a communications strategy called “Care for Our Coast,” intended to provide information about the effect of tourism on natural resources and to educate visitors about ways they may need to adjust their behavior.

“It’s not about getting more visitors here,” said Nan Devlin, executive director of Visit Tillamook Coast. “It’s about managing them when they get here.”

Multiyear project

The tourism network came out of a multiyear project led by Travel Oregon to look at how to make tourism more sustainable, environmentally and economically.

“The North Coast is clearly entering a new part of its destination ‘lifecycle,’” said Kristin Dahl, vice president of destination development for Travel Oregon, in a statement announcing the formation of the North Coast Tourism Management Network in May.

“Key to moving forward will be finding the right balance between the economic and social benefits of tourism and the impacts that high visitation can have on traffic, local services, natural resources and quality of life.”

Around the world, Devlin can point to examples of tourism gone awry, where crushes of visitors have had major impacts on the quality of life and fragile ecosystems.

As far as natural resources are concerned, the North Coast isn’t quite there yet, she said. “We’re nowhere near what is termed ‘overtourism,’ … but we’re going to be if we don’t manage it and get a handle on it now.”

“We just want to get ahead of the game,” she added.

David Reid, the executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, sees the potential for more ecotourism-type activities: mountain biking, trail systems and river excursions. He views the rural tourism studios Travel Oregon hosted last year and the tourism management network as important tools to adjust tourism and make sure it is something that helps, rather than hinders, the coast.

It remains to be seen how the projects proposed by the tourism network’s committees progress and what kinds of impact they have on visitor awareness.

More and more waste

For now, Ben Cox, park manager of the Nehalem Bay Management Unit, which includes Ecola State Park, is taking steps to address the impacts in the parks he oversees, particularly the wads of used toilet paper and less savory human-generated discoveries rangers find along popular trails.

For state parks, one of the consequences of increased tourism is an uptick in the number of people who seem uninformed about how to be responsible in beautiful but potentially dangerous areas like coastal cliffs, or just how much of an influence their activities can have on plants, animals and landscapes.

Rangers are seeing more and more waste left behind, Cox said. Whether it’s dog waste, human waste or garbage, “in a lot of ways personal responsibility sort of flies out the window,” he said.

Cox plans to place one, possibly two, portable toilets at the South Neahkahnie Mountain trailhead. They already maintain these kinds of facilities at Saddle Mountain during the winter, when the flush toilets need to be shut down.

“We are recognizing, slowly, within the system, within the department, there is a need for more toilet facilities,” Cox said.

With more tourists comes a heavier demand on a park’s septic and water infrastructure. There’s also the plastic, paper and food waste that emerges from the bowels of cars and is carried in sacks or by the fistful to park trash cans. Managing all this comes at an extra cost. The added expense takes away from resource-protection or education projects rangers might otherwise tackle.

“The more people that visit, the harder it becomes,” Cox said. “More people are coming, but we don’t have more resources.”

Source: https://www.dailyastorian.com/news/local/tourism-leaders-look-at-impacts-on-natural-resources/article_47ed0ce8-7e67-11e9-b331-779a2e194882.html

Backpacking tourism sector unable to explain dramatic $167m spending fall

The backpacking tourism sector is unable to explain a dramatic $167 million dollar spending fall by young tourists in the past year.

But Backpacker Adventure Tourism and Youth Association chairman Simon Cartwright rejects the plunge is all down to Brexit, as British backpacking numbers declined by 22 percent.

Cartwright told The AM Show the backpacker sector, in the past, had proven it was resilient “in the face of political adversity”.

“We’re a part of a global economy,” he said. “Backpackers have the right to spend their money and choose to go wherever they want to be.

“We have an amazing tourism product here, and an amazing country, and I think probably what’s worrying for us is we actually don’t have any answers right now.”

Cartwright said Tourism New Zealand will be asked what is being done to determine where backpackers are staying, and whether they’re travelling to alternative destinations.

“Our understanding is there’s a larger focus on the young professional market,” he said.

The focus was a “broad” group of professionals; 25 to 54-year-olds, said Rene De Monchy of Tourism New Zealand.

Backpackers generally spend less than $100 per day, compared to a “professional”, who would spend around $265 per day.

Source: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/05/backpacking-tourism-sector-unable-to-explain-dramatic-167m-spending-fall.html

Rethinking tourism so the locals actually benefit from hosting visitors

Tourism today has a problem and needs an entire rethink. Pundits are debating overtourismpeak tourism and tourismphobia. Cities such as BarcelonaVenice and Dubrovnik are witnessing a backlash against imposed forms of tourism. 

In response, new tactics have been tried, ranging from tourist “police” and tourist taxes to entry fees and crowd control. Cities are having to rethink their engagement with tourism if they want to keep the locals from rioting.

Fundamental concerns are being raised. If tourism is to have a sustainable future, we need to reorient our focus and put the well-being and interests of local residents at the forefront.

Understanding tourism

Tourism is typically understood from two angles. On the one hand, the focus is on the tourists and the nature of their motivations and demand, in the hope of enticing more. On the other is the business side, focused on developing products and services to provide to tourists. 

The industry seeks to grow tourism for profits. Governments support the industry for the jobs and revenues it provides. The result has been a relentless growth in tourism in forms that locals have often not appreciated. 

Developments like Airbnb are placing tourists in the heart of local neighbourhoods, disrupting the rhythms of daily life. Events are imposed on communities, driving out locals or blighting their quality of life. A case in point is the Newcastle 500 Supercars event, which some locals claim has harmed local businesses and disrupted residents’ lives. 

Public assets like the Adelaide Parklands and Australian national parks and World Heritage areas are being commercialised and privatised for tourism developments. 


Shifting the focus to the local community

We could create a different future for tourism if it was reoriented to be centred on the local community. Our recently published research paper redefined tourism as:

The process of local communities inviting, receiving and hosting visitors in their local community, for a limited time duration, with the intention of receiving benefits from such actions.

Such forms of tourism may be offered by commercial businesses or made possible by non-profit organisations. But in this restructure of tourism, tourism operators would be allowed access to the local community’s assets only under their authorisation and stewardship. 

The seeds of such a transition to more sustainable forms of tourism are already growing.

Respect and fairness go a long way

Venice provides a good example. In 2017, the authorities launched a #EnjoyRespectVeneziacampaign to overcome problems of poor tourist behaviour. 

In 2019, Venetian authorities have gone even further by introducing an entry fee this year and, later, a booking system. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said:

We intend to guarantee a better liveability for citizens and, above all, for the residents.


Read more: Cruise lines promise big payouts, but the tourist money stays at sea


But local communities and organisations are not waiting for authorities to act. Community activists are organising to take control of tourism for themselves.

A grassroots initiative from Amsterdam and Venice has resulted in Fairbnb. It’s a social cooperative designed to challenge the damaging and disruptive model of Airbnb. The new platform “provides a community-centred alternative to current vacation rental platforms that prioritises people over profit and offers the potential for authentic, sustainable and intimate travel experiences”. 

Like Airbnb, Fairbnb offers a platform to book vacation rentals. The difference is that 50% of revenues will be directed to local community projects. It also has a “one host, one home” policy – only one property on the market for each host – to limit negative impacts on local residential housing markets.

Meanwhile in Australia …

Australia does not have the same level of overtourism that places in Europe are suffering. But pressures are building right around the country from Byron Bay and the Great Ocean Road to our bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Locals are complaining about housing affordability, congested roads and badly behaved tourists. 


Australia would benefit from strategies to reorient tourism to local well-being and control. Some promising examples already exist. 

Lirrwi Tourism in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, stands out. The Yolngu Aboriginal operators have embraced tourism access but only under a visionary set of guiding principles. These declare “Yolngu have a responsibility to care for country” and “Tourism should never control what happens on country”. It’s an example of tourism on the local community’s terms.

Melbourne’s laneways strategy has demonstrated one way CBD revitalisation, resident well-being and visitor experiences can be brought together for great outcomes.

Tourists can play their part by meeting local communities halfway. In a resource-constrained world the pleasures of tourism must be balanced with some basic responsibilities. 

Tourists must gain some basic understanding of local living conditions and shape their travel plans accordingly. The focus must be to give locals the maximum benefits from the visit with the minimum negative impacts. The recent campaign “Helpful or harmful: what sort of traveller are you?” provides a place to start.

The long-term sustainability of tourism depends on ensuring visitors do not wear out their welcome. Reorienting tourism to enhance local well-being is the way forward.

Source:http://theconversation.com/rethinking-tourism-so-the-locals-actually-benefit-from-hosting-visitors-116066