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New UNWTO Report helps cities manage impacts of ‘overtourism’

New UNWTO Report helps cities manage impacts of ‘overtourism’
November 21, 2018

A newly released World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) report aims to help manage growing urban tourism flows and their impact on cities and residents.

Released during the recent UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism, in Seoul, South Korea, Overtourism’? Understanding and managing urban tourism growth beyond perceptions, examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations to the benefit of visitors and residents alike.

The result of collaboration between UNWTO, the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH), Breda University of Applied Sciences and the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) of NHL Stenden University of Applied sciences, it proposes 11 strategies and 68 measures to help understand and manage visitor growth.

The recent growth of urban tourism requires the sector to ensure sustainable policies and practices that minimise adverse effects of tourism on the use of natural resources, infrastructure, mobility and congestion, as well as its socio-cultural impact. Increased reports of negative attitudes among local populations towards visitors, due to perceived overcrowding, noise and other issues, have led to the spread of terms such as ‘overtourism’ and ‘tourismphobia’ in the media.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili explains “governance is key. Addressing the challenges facing urban tourism today is a much more complex issue than is commonly recognised.

“We need to set a sustainable roadmap for urban tourism and place tourism in the wider urban agenda.

“We must also ensure local communities see and benefit from the positive aspects of tourism.”

To better understand visitor management challenges in urban contexts, particularly the relationship between residents and visitors, the report includes an analysis of residents’ perceptions towards tourism in eight European cities – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Munich, Salzburg and Tallinn.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Ko Koens of the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH) and Breda University of Applied Sciences, advised “there is no one-size-fits-all solution to deal with overtourism. Instead tourism needs to be part of a city-wide strategy for sustainable development.”

With the report recommending a common strategic vision among all stakeholders involved, bringing residents and visitors together and adopting careful planning which respects the limits of capacity and the specificities of each destination, Professor Albert Postma of CELTH and NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences concludes "the involvement and support of local residents is key in achieving sustainable tourism.

"Building shared responsibility amongst stakeholders directly or indirectly involved in tourism development is a key for ensuring long-term sustainability.”

Click here to view the UNWTO report 'Overtourism? Understanding and managing urban tourism growth beyond perceptions.

Image: Overtourism in Venice.

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