The 50th edition of the Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht is in full swing. Here people are inspired for the next vacation. But it is not yet easy to find an original destination that has not yet been flooded by tourists. Jeroen Klijs, lecturer in social impacts of tourism at Breda University of Applied Sciences, explains what over tourism is and how you can find a holiday destination without contributing to it yourself.
It is not nice for anyone to spend their holidays in a crowded city or seaside resort, where you walk shoulder to shoulder with other tourists through the streets and where dozens of selfie sticks go up in the air at famous sights. Yet this is the case at a lot of tourist destinations.
Think for example of the Charles Bridge in Prague or Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The number of tourists at these locations exceeds the number of local residents. As a result, the facilities for local residents, such as laundries and supermarkets, make way for money exchange offices, souvenir shops and tourist restaurants. Klijs studies the consequences of tourism and thinks about solutions.
When do we speak of 'over tourism'?
"When the quality of life of the inhabitants deteriorates and the visit to a destination is no longer pleasant for the tourists either. For example, when tourists come to a destination with very large numbers, but also when they display inconvenient behavior there."
"In Amsterdam you see, for example, that with the arrival of Airbnb tourists stay not only in the center, but throughout the city. The other parts of the city are not equipped for that at all and then resentment arises between the residents and the tourists. Especially for people who don't rent a room themselves, but live next to it. "
You often see that all tourists clump together in specific places in the city center. Why do we all want to go to the same place?
"There we see the principle of the masses that follow the masses. When it is busy somewhere, we often think that this is the nicest point. Especially when you arrive at a destination where you have never been before, the tourist route seems like way to do things. While it doesn't have to be that way. "
"In those tourist centers everything is often more expensive and you are more likely to fall into a tourist trap. In other places in the city there are often beautiful places hidden where you encounter fewer crowds. Often cities are focusing on a better distribution policy for people to inform about other attractive places in the city, but that doesn't get everybody away. There are always people who really want to go to the famous places. "
How do you choose a holiday destination where you will encounter as few other tourists as possible?
"That requires more in-depth searching than the standard range of providers, who often offer exactly the same destinations and accommodations. For example, you can ask more about family, friends and acquaintances. On social media you often find tips from local residents. Googling the destination and scrolling further down, you often find information about how residents of a destination look at tourists. "
"Once you are at your destination, it helps to behave like a local. You behave how you would like a guest to behave in your street. You are not in an open-air museum, but in a place with its own culture Eat in local restaurants, for example, so that the proceeds go to the people who live there. It is very interesting and educational to try out local food and buy products. And think about whether you really go to a place. wants where there is a lot of complaining about mass tourism. There are plenty of places in the world that have not yet been discovered. "