City limits: Report reveals tourism hotspots struggling with overcrowding

The fine line between successful tourism and too many tourists is now a major issue for the world’s most popular cities, with some close to overcrowding, according to research for World Travel Market London – the leading global event for the travel industry – released on Tuesday 7 November at WTM London.

The Top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition, by Euromonitor International, says: “While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism.

“Barcelona and Venice are high-profile examples of cities struggling with overcrowding. For Venice, the main culprit is cruise visitors.

“An analysis of population density (inhabitants per sq km) and traveller density (inbound plus domestic travellers divided by land area) for the top 10 European cities shows how Amsterdam in particular is close to overcrowding.”

The Dutch capital has 850,000 residents. Last year it attracted 6.34 million visitors and is expected to achieve growth of 3.6% to 6.57 million visitors in 2017. The Top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition says this figure is forecast to rise to 6.8 million in 2020 and 7.5 million in 2025.

In an attempt to attract high spenders and dissuade low-spending visitors, including younger tourists and those on stag weekends, Amsterdam city officials announced in September 2017 plans to increase tourist taxes by €10 a night.

Amsterdam’s city councillor responsible for finance, Udo Kock, said: “We need more people who actually spend money in the city.

“We would prefer people who stay a couple of nights, visit museums, have lavish meals at restaurants, to people who pop over for a weekend eating falafel while sauntering around the red-light district.”

In Venice, there has been growing concern among locals over huge influxes of visitors, particularly among cruise ship passengers. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has expressed ‘extreme concern’ about the impact of the tourism boom on Venice’s historical sites and in May it threatened to put Venice on its danger list.

There is a growing campaign among Venetians to restrict cruise visits – a move introduced by the Greek island of Santorini earlier this year in order to curb overcrowding.

World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “As the Top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition, by Euromonitor International, highlights, there is a very fine line between successful tourism and overtourism.

“Tourism is important to local and national economies and many destinations have worked hard to attract visitors over the years. Yet some are now becoming victims of their own success and overtourism is starting to become a real problem.

“The situation is discussed during several WTM London 2017 sessions where tourism professionals address the challenges and share ideas to tackle this growing problem.”