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5 complex, interrelated factors have caused overtourism to rise

rapidly up the policy agenda for the tourism sector in Europe:

1) Increased affordability and accessibility of travel:

Travel is acquiring greater importance among consumers

who are seeking to discover new destinations and new

experiences. Younger consumers, in particular Generation Z

and Millennials are prioritising spending on travel. Low cost

airlines and the internet have put travel within easy reach of

the mass market of global consumers.

2) Overall growth in international arrivals:

These have risen steadily since the 1950s from 25 million to 1.3

billion globally. In Europe in 2017, an 8% growth was recorded,

the highest over the past 7 years. Earlier forecasts by UNWTO

on expected tourism arrivals in the EU are many years ahead

of ‘schedule’ as the half-billion arrivals forecasted in 2014 for

the year 2023 for the EU-28 were already reached in 2016.

3) Leveraging of private residences for tourist


Online platforms, as the drivers and

protagonists of the so-called ‘collaborative’ economy, have

enabled the widespread conversion of private residences into

tourist accommodation, placing tourists in city centres and

pushing residents out. Furthermore, platforms have fuelled

the uncontrolled development of the so called “collaborative”

economy also by not providing data in their possession on the

tourism flows that they generate.

4) ‘ ‘McDisney-isation’ of destinations:

Large concentrations of tourists in certain locations have

caused neighbourhoods to change as traditional stores move

out. The growth of certain activities, such as segway and

‘beer-bike’ tours has caused considerable nuisance to local


5) Bucket-list tourism:

Increased awareness of

destinations through the internet and use of social media by

travellers has also generated a ‘bucket-list’ attitude among

some travellers who travel to ‘tick-off’ certain destinations

and attractions, often bringing more nuisance than benefits

to the local eco-system and contributing to further congestion

around those locations.



Increased congestion:

Increased tourism leads to huge

congestion by crowds in specific locations, e.g. around specific

iconic places and attractions, in open public spaces, on the roads

and on public transport. This can also be exacerbated by the

effect of day visitors (e.g. cruise passengers) and the presence

of large groups.

Infrastructure under pressure:

Footpaths, bridges, roads

and public transport can be strained by large crowds, while large

numbers of visitors can place pressure on local eco-system and

life, including energy and water supplies.

Degradation in the quality of life of local residents:

Changing neighbourhoods, inappropriate behaviour among

some tourists and large crowds can cause a negative impact

on local residents’ quality of life. In some places this has caused

strong protests and overt conflict by local residents, known as


Rising cost of living:

Gentrification and the increasing use of

private residences for tourist accommodation has taken property

off the market for local residents, forcing up the cost of buying

and renting a place to live. As a result, residents in some cities

have been forced out of city centres, making central districts

losing their identity further.

Impact on built and natural environment:


numbers of visitors can increase pollution, causing damage

to ecosystems and wildlife. Increased numbers of visitors and

inadequate visitor management facilities may also cause damage

to historic buildings and monuments. This is visible in several

European cities where waste management has spiralled out of

control, contributing further to the sense of insecurity among local