Recently, there had been a number of articles reflecting on tourist numbers and how impactful this has on the sites that receive hordes of travelers. From analytical posts here to news that authorities have closed an island to access, we are witnessing a sort of push back due to overwhelming numbers of people criss crossing the globe.
Some destinations have implemented what would seem to be ‘draconian’ measures. For example Barcelona has been rolling out a series of bans, from restricting large tour groups’ access to traditional markets, to not allowing tourists to drive in certain parts of the city. The rationale being that the large number of tourists is disrupting lives of ordinary people. Others have retreated from this extreme, such as Venice’s backtrack on the ban of large cruise ships sailing past via St Mark’s basin.
To us this is a harbinger of potential future conflict, when local life becomes interrupted to the point of unbearable by the ‘intrusion’ of non locals.
How much is enough? Just to give some food for thought, it is estimated that in 2014 just over 1.1 billion people made international travel as you can observe in the graph above. Yes, that’s a digit representing a billion. That means around the world everyday >3 million people are on their way somewhere on a plane, boat, train or road – crossing a border. Of course it is actually worse since it is not evenly spread, with holiday time of various countries, cultures and religions being the main contributors to concentrated movement of people.
There was talk some years ago I heard that Venice is no longer inhabited by Venetians but by foreigners and workers who leave the lagoon city in the evening for the suburbs on the mainland. If that were really true, it would be a real loss.
Imagine the lost character of a city without its real inhabitants. Well, perhaps real is not an appropriate word. Indigenous perhaps? This gets really complicated!
Even when we were in Russia recently it was a surprise to find that there can be ‘hordes’ of tourists at every attraction. The Hermitage was so crowded that each group were issued headphones to tune in to your own guide. Too many guide speaking at one time and in different languages too. The cacophony would be overwhelming!