You’d think that when it comes to tourism, more is more. But in reality, it isn’t. With travel on the increase, there is a risk that it could do more harm than good. A substantial part of the growth of the tourist industry is social media.
Facebook, Instagram, other social media platforms, and travel blogs dominate the internet. People sharing their pictures and travel stories online inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
However, with this influx of tourists comes the causation of harm to the very attractions they’ve come to visit. So, is there anything that can be done? This is a complicated matter, and there are no simple solutions.
It’s advantageous for countries to attract tourists. With more visitors comes economic stimulation and growth. But it reaches a saturation point beyond which the overtourism phenomenon starts.
So, just what is overtourism? Let’s look at a case study. In 2008, Iceland’s economy was in dire straits owing to the world financial crisis. The country relied heavily on tourism to generate income as part of its economic recovery.
But now the number of tourists visiting the country has multiplied so much that they put a strain on resources, the environment, and the country’s infrastructure. Social media is in large part, responsible because of the number of visitors sharing photos showing what a great destination Iceland is.
2. Tourism surge
As the world’s economy recovered from the financial crisis, people have increased levels of disposable income. A large percentage of them choose to spend it on travel. The emerging middle class in countries like China, India, and some African states has resulted in a burgeoning tourist market.
Add in the fact that travel is more accessible and that it’s now within more people’s financial reach, there are simply more people on the move. Alternative accommodations such as those presented by Airbnb have made travel even more affordable.
3. Social media’s role
We’ve become dependent on social media and the people we follow on it. Studies suggest that a lot of people make decisions about travel destinations based on social media trends. Social media influences which airlines people use and where they choose to stay.
So, if a celebrity posts a photograph of themselves standing next to a beautiful waterfall in Thailand, there’s a good chance of a surge of visitors. There are, of course, other people who make a choice based on what’s not trending, hoping to get it trending themselves.
4. Destructive tourism
The worst part of this burgeoning tourist market is the havoc some visitors wreak on the places they visit. Sites of historical and religious significance have been vandalized by tourists who have carved their initials in the walls and stolen items.
And there have been several selfie incidents which have fueled outrage, such as the tourists who posed for them at Auschwitz.