Sunday, August 11, 2019

Tourism in C21

The BBC World Service recently broadcast some interesting interviews and comments about the effects of what may fairly be described as "over-tourism" in some areas of the world.

A professor from Geneva university drew attention to changes which over-tourism has caused in recent years to Barcelona. He commented that often that city itself is often unpleasantly over-crowded with tourists but signified that this was really on the periphery of the problem. 

The main issue affects housing for local people. He reported that many ordinary houses have been bought up for use as  "Airbnb" accommodation with others being converted into hotels resulting in a shortage if not an absence of ordinary homes for the indigenous population. The BBC commentator sensibly in my view inquired as to whether local planning laws and regulations should not be used to contain this kind of problem.

The Geneva professor agreed but said that attempts to do so had been made with some success in theory. However he reported that in practice local orders restricting  hotel and Airbnb usage were ignored  and not enforced meaning that the problem had become such that the real character of Barcelona had changed not only for the indigenous or erstwhile indigenous population but also for the masses of tourists who now visit. A problem is that tourism brings in much needed cash for areas that may be said to need it but if the cost involves local inhabitants of such areas having to leave, what really is the point?

The BBC then had briefer interviews with locals from other affected tourist centres. One lady from Camden Lock in London reported that the issues had now become so bad as a result of the 100,000s of visitors there, that she had taken to avoiding Camden High Street altogether. 

Croatia, Budapest, parts of Japan, Venice Rome Machu Pichu and many parts of India including some of their national parks are just example of many places around the globe that are affected.

Add to the above the pollution caused by huge cruise liners and the vast numbers of aircraft flying tourists around the world the problems are apparent and severe.

Recollecting my own days as a student I can appreciate the attraction and indeed the education, of travelling to other parts of the world. However train and ferries were the methods of transport used then and perhaps should be used more in C21. For example not that long ago  maytrees mi travelled to Shanghai by train. 

Families with young children are unlikely to be able to spend days travelling by train to the beach. However using car ferries or Eurostar and holidaying less far away and less often,  could surely begin to resolve some of the problems?

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