ETFI contributes to an outstanding UNWTO report that helps cities manage impact of overtourism

On 17 and 18 September 2018, together with Sandra Carvao, Ko Koens, I presented the handbook “Overtourism”? Understanding and managing urban tourism growth beyond perceptions. The handbook was authored by Albert Postma, Bernadett Papp and Ko Koens and edited by Sandra Carvao and Diana Oliviera. The text is based on two projects on visitor pressure that have been conducted over the past few years. The report is the result of collaboration between UNWTO, CELTH, Breda University of Applied Sciences, and NHL Stenden ETFI.

Negative implications of tourism in cities

The history of these projects dates back years ago. In 2013, I finished my PhD study on residents’ perception towards tourism in their living environment, with a focus on residents’ personal negative experiences with tourism. During 2013-2014, the media increasingly started to write about the negative implications of tourism in cities across Europe. ETFI saw this as an early warning signal of an emerging issue and started a pilot study in Riga, Berlin and Amsterdam, which was based on the approach and results of my PhD study.

Launching a new project

ETFI was offered the opportunity to present the results in a keynote presentation at the Futures Day at the ITB in Berlin. In consultation with Hans Dominicus, former director of CELTH,  we decided to launch a European CELTH-project on this topic. The keynote in March 2015 was a success and through Dominicus’ network in European Cities Marketing (ECM), we got the opportunity to start a study commissioned by the DMOs of Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Lisbon and Amsterdam, that was conducted by me and Ko Koens.

Follow up research                                         

A year after this project was finished, it got a follow up with the 5 Flemish Cities of Art (Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven, Mechelen), Tallinn and Salzburg. During this second project round, Bernadett Papp has played a major role. She extended the desk research, conducted all expert interviews, and contributed to the analysis and reporting of the project. The final report is currently being written by me, Papp and Koens.

Downloadable UNWTO handbook

Under the management of Menno Stokman, the successor of Dominicus as director of CELTH, the interest by UNWTO was effectuated in early 2018. CELTH and UNWTO agreed that the key results of both rounds would be published as a UNWTO handbook. An intense process of selecting, rewriting and editing resulted in a UNWTO report that was launched on 18 September at the 7th  UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism in and is now available for download.

Sustainable roadmap for urban tourism

The booklet gives an introduction to the notion of overtourism, and discusses residents’ perspectives to the problem. The report examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations for the benefit of visitors and residents alike. It proposes eleven strategies and 68 measures to help understand and manage visitor growth. The handbook ends with a chapter written by Ian Yeoman about the forces in our society that drive the developments in urban tourism over the decade to come.

The second volume of the handbook

In the meantime, the preparation of a second volume of the handbook is being prepared. This handbook will provide a number of case studies. A range from smaller to bigger cities present the problem of overtourism in their city and the measures that they take with reference to the strategies and measures discussed in volume one. Cases that will be covered include Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Besalu, Cambridge, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Favelas, Ghent, Hangzhou, London, Lucerne, Macau, New York, Oaxaca, and Prague.

New study in collaboration with international institutions

And last but not least the CELTH partners in Breda (BUAS) and Leeuwarden (ETFI) collaborate together with a few international institutions (Lund University in Sweden, University of Brighton in the UK, and Ostelea School of Tourism and Hospitality in Spain) in a study on overtourism in urban areas, rural areas, coastal areas & islands, and heritage sites & attractions. This study is commissioned by the European Parliament and will be finished in November 2018.