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