Tourism Backlash

On Saturday 12th August the Guardian carried a full page article, ‘Wish you weren’t here: locals take on tourists in Europe’s crowded hotspots’.  Spain is the focus for much of the spate of anti-tourist incidents reported, but it’s not alone in seeing a backlash against apparently unregulated tourism, including the impact of innovations like Airbnb.  The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has responded by stressing the value of tourism and calls for ‘sustainable tourism policies [and} practices’ and a multi sector response.  ‘The focus should not be, it says, on simply stopping tourists arriving.’

Three points.  First, in 2010 I worked with the European Association of Historic Towns and Regions to prepare for the Council of Europe a set of ‘Guidelines for Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Historic Towns and Cities’.  I’ve yet to see any evidence that government at any level and public and private sector agencies have taken any notice of the Guidelines, much less taken any action.  Second, regardless of what the WTO says, it is about the numbers and the impact on places where visitor want to go.  Third, modern tourism is now shaped and driven by internet technology, yet the public agencies who are responsible for destinations seem unwilling or unable to use technology to help manage tourism effectively.  Once again technology drives business, but not governance.

Photos: 1. Ephesus, Turkey, 1995; 2. Quai du Louvre, Paris, 1988

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2 Responses to Tourism Backlash

  1. Sue B-H says:

    I would be very interested in seeing your 2002 offer of guidance on tourism and particularly interested in references to Cambridge. Does it address the issue of ever increasing use of technology by visitors both before they leave home and during their time away?

    • brianhuman says:

      Hi Sue,

      First, an apology, the Guidelines were published in 2010; I’ve amended the blog.

      There are no specific references to Cambridge as the Guidelines are intended to give general advice.

      There are are no direct references to ICT and the role it might play in developing more sustainable approaches to tourism, though it is implicit in certain aspects, e.g. information for visitors. I suppose we might argue that communications technology and social media were less developed in 2010 than now, but in retrospect it is something of which we should have made more.

      I’ll bring you a copy of the Guidelines the next time we meet.


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