Why “undertourism” is on the rise

As the middle class grows in emerging markets, worldwide tourism continues to expand. So much so that many “bucket list” destinations are experiencing record numbers of visitors. That overcrowding not only impacts travelers’ chances to view the local landscape, it’s also taking its toll on the populations and natural resources of key must-see sites.

Cami Minaret in Kazakhstan. Photo By: Konevi

In the 1950s the tourism industry reported about 25 million arrivals across the globe. By 2018 that number had jumped to 1.4 billion, and according to the World Tourism Organization it will by upwards of 1.8 billion within a decade.

In the U.S., 60 percent of travelers claim overcrowding will significantly impact the destinations they chose within five to 10 years according to The New York Times. If that’s the case, just how can concerned tourists still experience the world without being part of the problem?

Here are five ways to fight “overtourism“:

  1. Instead of must-see sites, opt for less visited places. Still equally as interesting, lesser-known neighborhoods, restaurants and attractions offer the same cultural experiences without all the crowds.
  2. Travel during the quieter shoulder-seasons when smaller numbers mean greater access and better prices.
  3. Support visitor quotas in overcrowded cities and fragile ecosystems. By limiting the number of visitors, favorites like National Parks can preserve what was so great about them to begin with.
  4. Ask the board of tourism about positive-redirection options. By offering suggestions of lesser-known points of interest, they can control overcrowding in major hotspots and expand cultural experiences.
  5. Get on board with “first-chance” tourism destinations. By visiting destinations which are off the beaten path, travelers can disperse the number of visitors to a country while experiencing a rare travel gem before everyone else does.

Beyond avoiding the crowds, undertourism offers travelers authentic experiences, cheaper prices and a more relaxed vacation. However, the benefits to the destinations are even greater — from easing the pressures on natural resources to protecting the area’s cultural identity. Undertourism — it’s a win-win for all.

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