Mass-tourism impact: 10 destinations showing the darkside of being popular
Have you ever thought that many places in the world risk to disappear and/or be permanently damaged in the next years because of mass-tourism?
The impact of men on the planet is often negative. A lack of information or of sense of respect have bad and irreversible consequences. We have heard a lot about the Great Barrier Reef situation or the plastic islands growing in the Pacific. However there are a lot of other places which also suffer from human behavior.
With travelling becoming easier, cheaper and faster, more and more people are doing more and more trips. Usually not caring about anything but their own pleasure and entertainment.
Let’s be honest: all the places, the most precious ones included, have become more accessible to idiots.
Which are the places who suffer the most from mass-tourism?
The list that follows shows the impact that mass-tourism has on certain destinations. It’s not only about our eco-friendly behavior, but a reflection over a wider perspective.
In this post, you’ll find:
- An absolutely incomplete list of places which suffer from mass-tourism
- Some advices to reduce our impact as travelers.
LIVING LIKE IN A MOVIE
Raise your hand if while watching a movie, you have desired to get to that place in that very moment. Maybe it was a movie about Marie Antoinette and you were on your way to book a flight to Paris. Or after binge-watching Sens8, the only thing you could do to keep on that mood was planning the itinerary of all the locations.
Well, at this point I could see thousands, millions of hands up. When a movie or a TV series goes viral, so do the location(s) where it has been set. A phenomenon worrisome growing in recent years, that puts in danger the balance of the environment and/or the locals’ life.
Want some examples?
1. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
This sea city – and the whole country actually – have always been a quite popular destination. In recent years, thanks to the Mediterranean cruises, but most of all to the Game of Thrones fans, the streets of Dubrovnik are overwhelmed by tourists from all over the world.
The impact of 2 millions people visiting each summer a place that hosts 40000 inhabitants: traffic hard to manage, overcrowded buses not easily accessible to locals, increasing living expenses that locals are struggling with.
2. MAYA BAY, KOH PHI PHI, THAILAND
If you dreamed about the paradise set of The Beach, with Leonardo di Caprio, I’m sorry to tell you, the reality could make you upset. The bay has become so popular that attracts hordes of people every day. Since you cannot spend the night there, people choose it for a one-day escape, boarding boats where thay have parties and living the carefree holiday. Except for early hours in the morning, the bay is full of anchored boats with rude and/or drunk people on board, living trash and litter everywhere.
Ironic, if we consider Di Caprio’s active involvement in environmental issues, isn’t it?
Well, I have to say: guilty. From the very first moment I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I felt in love with Iceland. Although I bought a guide straight after, I’ve never been there yet. Differently, an incredible amount of other people travelled to this magic island in the last 3 years.
In this list, Iceland could probably be on top. Popular because of popular movies (Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman Begins, …). Popular because of popular TV series (Game of Thrones – again dude??- Sense8…). Popular because its popularity is feeding itself with more and more popularity.
If we want to bother Di Caprio again, it looks like an Inception game.
TRA IL SACRO E IL PROFANO
When we are guests, either in a house or in a foreign country, we should be aware and try not to offend the host.
If you come to Italy, especially in the south, embrace yourself and get ready to eat whatever the hosting person is offering you.Since the food is pretty good, you would probably not refusing, even if it is pretty much. But if you don’t feel like keep in eating the 153rd course, you won’t damage anyone. Ok, maybe someone will be friendly upset, but in the end no real consequences.
It is different when you don’t get informed when visiting a country, especially a far one, about its customs, beliefs and sacred places. You could accidentaly ruin something not special for you, but a paramount to locals. Let’s just think about cows in India, for example.
4. EASTER ISLAND, CHILE
Thanks to its location, this island have been subject to very few external interference. However, with the passing of time and the growth of transport connections (although intentionally limited), the number of tourists visiting the land of Rapa Nui has been massively growing.
The Moai statues, who were considered protecting the island, are very fragile though. All the tourist touching them, have provoked irreversible damages and for this reasons two among the most important archeological sites have been closed to tourists.
Moreover, to protect their land and identity, the local government has taken measures to reduce and control the flow of foreigners, among them a shorter visa permit and a fixed maximum of visitors per day.
5. ULURU, AUSTRALIA
Uluru, the most famous rock of the whole country. Many people knows it is red, less that is a sacred site for the Aboriginal community.
Knowing it or not, a lot of visitors have very disrespectful behavior. Using it as a toiltet, a trash bin or a canvas for their vandal artworks, ruining original engravings.
Although this has been a discussed and controversial topic, the local authorities have eventually taken a strict measure: by October 2019, Uluru will be off limits to climbers.
6. BAGAN, MYANMAR
Despite its relatively new popularity, Myanmar, especially Bagan’s Valley of Temples, has attracted lots of tourists. The Valley future could not be happy by the way. Natural erosion, earthquakes and direspectful human behavior have, indeed, reduced the number of pagodas on the territory (once counting 4,000).
The main activity in Bagan is to climb pagodas at sunrise and/or sunset and enjoy the natural view or watch the hot air baloon in the sky. Climbing is allowed and temples are secured. The problem is, as you can easily imagine, people are not pleased by the experience from the authorized area and climb up, over the limits, where the construction is fragile. That caused not only serious damages to historical and sacred sites, but also several deaths.
FAUNA AND FLORA
7. RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, PERU
Also known as Vinicunca Mountain or Montana de Siete Colores, this colorful and unique altitude offers an experience hard to forget.
However, a growing number of negative reviews from sincere travelers shows a sad reality. The explosion of the popularity of this spot, attracted not only lots of hikers, often disrespectful and unprepared, but also improvised guides. Those, in addition to not very secure trails, make not only the trek experience often hard but also give a consistent boost to the mountain deterioration.
“I want a picture for my Instagram there”
” But it’s off the marked track”
“Oh, who cares. I’m the only one doing it.”
8. YELLOWSTONE PARK, USA
Visitors walking off the authorized tracks are a huge problem also in Yellowstone Park, which sees consistent damages to its nature. However it is not the only issue.
People are deliberately feeding the animals, despite the prohibitions. You can think it is a cute thing, what’s the matter? The fact is that animals assimilate this attitude and always expect food from people, becoming aggressive and nervous.
The geothermal algae and ecosystem is in danger too because of people throwing coins or food or even walking in geothermal features, risking their lives too.
PUSHING TO THE LIMIT
If the places mentioned above seem having specific troubles with the growing amount of visitors, there are some other ones that are totally overwhelmed by mass-tourism.
9. VENICE, ITALY
Venice. I think it doesn’t need an introduction, neither an explanation of its popularity. So, let’s go straight to the problems.
Landmark of the majority of cruises and luxury yacht, the lagoon is hosting thousands of ships each year, overturining the delicate ecosystem. Moreover, visitors coming from those boats, are usually doing daytrips, crowding the city, but not paying the city tax, usually reserved to people who stays overnight.
That means the lack of a small but considerable contribution to local community who struggles everyday with the insane amount of tourists (30 millions visitor/year against 55,000 inhabitants). Shops and business for locals, have been replaced by souvenir shops and tourists spaces, leaving inhabitants with less and more expensive spots where to do shopping or hang out with friends.
And not even mentioning the rise of crime and vandalism. The city centre is going to be listed into the UNESCO Endangered Sites soon if we don’t take action. Thus, although very discussed, I agree with the decision coming from the 2019 Budget Law, by with the Italian government allows local governments to ask for an access fee to the cities centres.
Venice has always been an expensive destinations, and that didn’t stop people to go and visit. Will this measure be efficient?
On the other side, Mauritius is already overcrowded itself:
626 inhabitants per Km2 , making the island among the countries with the highest density population in the world.
In additions, it welcomes 1 million tourists/year. The result is a bunch of people everywhere. The only areas left outside the crowd are some sugarcane fields and resorts’ beaches.
Wildlife and nature are in serious danger and even the last flourishing territory, the Black Forest National Park, could soon be swallowed by the numerous buses full of tourists that cross it each day.
What can we do to balance out mass-tourism negative impact?
If some of the stories mentioned above shook your conscience, I have good news: you’re not among the idiots I was talking
few lots of lines ago.
And if they shook your conscience to the point you feel the need to do something, I have good news again: there are few things that you could do, and are pretty easy 🙂
- Try to avoid visiting a place during high season or most crowded times.
- Use those times to visit less popular places.
- Respect the limits, the tracks and whatever instruction you may find.
- When you can’t see any of them, just use common sense.
- When you plan your itinerary, take time to get informed about the rules, the costumes, the religion, the environment and animal conditions of a place and try to adapt yourself to that.
- Don’t chase likes on social media or glory. I mean, having sex on the pyramids. Really?
This article is part of my fight to unresponsible travel. If you find some words offensive, I’m sorry, but some behavior offend me too (and many other people, trust me). If this is your battle too, and you would like to get further suggestions, you can visit this page. In any case, have a nice day:)
From Puglia (a Southern Italy wonderful region), born in 1991, 1.63 meters…short! Master in International Relations, I care about human rights and our wonderful planet. I love cooking, volleyball, the sea, winning board games. I hate talking about money, being interrupted when speaking, winter, a badly made Margarita, losing board games.