Unique strategies and measures to overcome impacts of overtourism

For a few years, we have been involved in research on visitor pressure, or ‘overtourism’ as it is called nowadays. Preceding these studies, that have been executed within CELTH, I did a PhD study on residents’ attitudes towards tourism in four island communities (Ameland, Terschelling, Aruba, Curacao) that I rounded of in 2013. I focused in particular at the encounters with tourism that caused a tipping point in their attitude towards tourism.

Investigating the impact of tourism in an urban context

As the media coverage on the nuisance caused by tourism in various European cities started to increase, we decided to investigate this by applying the outcomes of my PhD study in an urban context. We conducted a pilot study in Amsterdam, Berlin and Riga in collaboration with Aija van der Steina, University of Latvia and Tourism Management students at NHL Stenden University.

UNWTO handbook

In 2015, CELTH started an in-depth study in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona and Lisbon, commissioned by the DMOs of these cities, and conducted by Dr. Ko Koens and Dr. Albert Postma. In September 2018, the results of the study were presented at the UNWTO summit on Urban Tourism in Seoul and made available in a handbook. In 2016 the urban visitor pressure study was followed up by a second and similar study. Tallinn, Salzburg and the Belgian cities of arts invited CELTH to repeat the study there. For this study, the research team was extended with Bernadett Papp.

Overtourism and its consequences for urban destinations

During the years of the aforementioned studies, the term overtourism was introduced to refer to the topic of visitor pressure and its consequences for urban destinations. Because CELTH and ETFI have been at the forefront of the investigations of visitor pressure on urban destinations we took the initiative to share our thoughts on this concept in an academic article Is overtourism overused? Understanding the impact of tourism in a city context in the Journal Sustainability written by Ko Koens, Albert Postma and Bernadett Papp.

How do residents perceive tourism?

The article puts the concept of overtourism into a historical context and makes use of the interviews with tourism stakeholders and residents in the in the cities of the first and second visitor pressure study to illustrate how they perceive overtourism. Moreover, the article proposes 11 strategies and 68 measures to help understand and manage visitor’s growth in urban destinations. These strategic policy recommendations can advance inclusive and sustainable urban tourism that can contribute to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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