Overtourism is currently a hot topic, with locals protesting in many cities and resorts around the world, claiming that too many visitors are having a detrimental impact on their daily lives.
The topic will also be the key theme of World Responsible Tourism Day on Wednesday, November 8, and will feature throughout the responsible tourism programme across all three days of WTM London.
More than 1.2 billion trips were taken in 2016 and this is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2030. However, a number of cities and resorts are seeing an influx of tourists, fuelled by many circumstances including the booming cruise industry and the sharing economy making tourism flows harder to manage.
Possibly the most high profile manifestation of this discontent among some locals is a campaign in Barcelona that has seen anti-tourism protestors take to the streets.
Barcelona residents have also claimed the sharing economy is increasing rent prices for them. The city has 1.6 million residents but hosts 32 million tourists each year.
Meanwhile, Venice has asked the government to ban cruise ships from its harbour and Santorini is limiting cruise passengers to 8,000 a day. Machu Picchu and Everest meanwhile are capping visitor numbers.
On the flip side however, tourism generates 10% of the world’s gross domestic product and is responsible for one in every 10 jobs and 30% of world trade in services, making it central to many countries’ economies and people’s livelihoods.
Indeed, 2017 is the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The summit at WTM London will discuss how managing the growth of visitors to many popular destinations is critical for both hosts and visitors. It will look at how tourism growth can and should lead to economic prosperity, jobs and resources, while also contributing to environmental protection and cultural preservation.
Simon Press, WTM London senior director, said: “Overtourism is the key issue in the industry at the moment, so it is right that ministers and senior private sector leaders debate the topic as part of the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit.”