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Crowds at the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Overtourism is the congestion or overcrowding from an excess of tourists, resulting in conflicts with locals. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines overtourism as "the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitor experiences in a negative way".[1][2] This definition shows how overtourism can be observed both among locals, who view tourism as a disruptive factor that increasingly burdens daily life, as well as visitors, who may regard high numbers of tourists as a nuisance.

The term has only been used frequently since 2015, but is now the most commonly used expression to describe the negative impacts ascribed to tourism.[3]


Tourists on the Mediterranean Coast of Barcelona, 2007

The growth of tourism can lead to conflicts between residents, commuters, day-visitors and overnight tourists. Although much attention is currently given to overtourism in cities, it can also be observed in rural destinations, or on islands.[4] The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) found that a perception of overcrowding can prompt local residents to protest against tourism. The excessive growth of visitors can lead to negative effect for local residents, especially during temporary or seasonal tourism peaks. Therefore the carrying capacity of a tourist destination is also measured in terms of social carrying capacity, and the behaviour of the tourists.[5]

Overtourism is sometimes incorrectly equated with mass tourism. Mass tourism entails large groups of tourists coming to the same destination. While this can lead to overtourism, there are many destinations that host millions of visitors, yet are not seen as suffering from overtourism (e.g., London).[3] Tourists usually utilize infrastructure and services designed for residents. If the carrying capacity is exceeded of the infrastructure and services tourists need to use as well, the service provision focuses on the priorities of the tourists. Residents may be forced to use the service provision intended for tourists.[6]

In the 1990s local residents in Spain, Greece, Malta, and France started to oppose mass tourism, which was perceived as Fordist. In rural areas of Latin America, environmental concerns were the key driver for rising discontent and social campaigns against tourist real estate developments. In Mexico and Central America vehement protests were triggered by tourist real estate speculation alongside the exploitation of workers, and even dispossession or displacement of local residents.[7]

In 2017 Europe saw a wave of residents' protests in cities, including Barcelona, Venice, and Palma de Mallorca. The problems arising from overtourism began to be discussed in academic publications, but no commonly accepted definition of the phenomenon has been agreed on.[8]


Pattaya welcomed 9.44 million visitors in 2019

Overtourism is observed mostly, but not exclusively, when the number of visitors to a destination, or parts thereof, grows rapidly in a short space of time. Also, it is most common in areas where visitors and residents share a physical space.[9] In recent years, developments within tourism and outside of tourism have increased contact between residents and visitors and made the impacts of tourism more noticeable.[10] In addition to the overall growth of tourist numbers, problems associated with overtourism have been exacerbated by the following developments:[3][1]

Enablers of overtourism

Overtourism has developed into a widespread phenomenon. Governments and destination marketing organizations are attempting to address the problem. Enablers of overtourism include greater numbers of tourists, the affordability of travel, a mindset dominated by the wish for economic growth, short term focus on tourism, the competition for local services and amenities, and lack of control over tourist bookings.[11]

There are currently more tourists than ever before in world history. In 1950 the number of international tourists was estimated to be 25 million. In 1963 Walter Christaller published on the negative effects of tourism. In 1987 Jost Krippendorf followed as international tourist travel increased. In 2016 tourists numbered over a billion, a 50-fold increase compared to 1950. Media coverage on overtourism has focused on Europe, which bears the brunt of tourism arrivals with 50 percent, and South East Asia, which sustains 25 percent of tourism arrivals.[11] According to UNWTO there were 25 million international arrivals in 1950, which increased to 1.3 billion by 2017. The international tourism sector is expected to grow 3.3% annually, until 2030, a year at which point an expected 1.8 billion tourists will cross borders.[12]

Factors contributing to overtourism

Countries in which EasyJet operates (May 2023)[13][14]

The rise of low-cost carriers (LCCs), the availability of inexpensive intercity bus service, and the popularity of cruise ship travel are assumed to have contributed to complaints about overtourism. In academic literature government policy, the ambitions of service providers in tourist destinations, as well as the influence of social media are considered enablers of overtourism.[8]

Airbnb and similar online accommodation services can lead to an increase in tourists due to lower prices, compared to hotels or other establishments.[citation needed] There is also the issue of Airbnb's leading to fewer affordable housing opportunities for residents, increased rent prices, and loss of social community within neighborhoods.[15]

The Experience Economy and changing lifestyle patterns have been blamed for the increased use of leisure facilities, contributed to a monoculture of hospitality facilities.[citation needed]


This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

As of 2017, several media outlets published lists of destinations that are not recommended because of an excessive number of tourists.[16][17]


According to CNN, environmentalists are concerned about the effect of tourism on Antarctica, which steadily increased during the 2010s.[17]


In Aruba, the chemical Oxybenzone in sunscreen is harming coral reefs and marine life. In 2019, a proposed law called "Choose Zero" was introduced, which includes a ban on importing, selling, or distributing single-use plastic products and products containing Oxybenzone.[18][19]


Hallstatt, in 2020 had 780 citizens and more than 10,000 visitors a day, primarily arriving via tour bus, stopping briefly for photographs, and moving on quickly.[20] In 2020, the town implemented a system to limit entry of buses.[21][22][23]


Bhutan instituted a US$200 to US$250 charge per day for tourists because of overtourism concerns.[17]


The Great Wall of China has been damaged by overtourism.[24]


Dubrovnik became so overtouristed by 2017 that UNESCO considered removing it from the World Heritage Site list.[17] The city capped the number of visitors allowed to climb its ramparts and as of 2017 was planning to limit the number of cruise ships that could dock.[17][25] In 2020 they were considering limiting the number of new restaurants allowed to open.[26]


The Galápagos Islands were included on Fodor's 2017 list of places not to go because of environmental damage caused by overtourism.[24] As of 2017 visitors are required to hire a guide.[17]


Overtourism at the Louvre

In Paris, workers at the Louvre went on strike over what they said were dangerously overcrowded conditions.[27]


In Santorini, cruise ship visitors have been capped at 8000 per day due to overtourism[17] after years in which the island of 15,000 residents was receiving up to 18,000 tourists per day.[26]


The Zugspitze has been plagued by overtourism, especially because of day trippers arriving via gondola.[28]


In Hawaii, the degradation of corals has been shown to worsen in areas with higher concentration of tourists.[29]


The Fjaðrárgljúfur area was closed after the music video for Justin Bieber's I'll Show You made it so popular the government needed to improve infrastructure.[26][30] Over all there is a challenge that Iceland has been facing around protecting their environment with the increase in tourism to the country. Overuse of natural areas can cause long-lasting and possibly permanent damage to vegetation, soils, and the landscape. An influx of visitors can also cause congestion which can harm the experience. With the rapid growth, there is also a lack of infrastructure on the island to fully support the increase in tourism, as well as the already present resident of the island, causing other issues such as traffic on roads that can be difficult to travel.[31]


In 2019, the Taj Mahal started fining visitors who stay more than three hours.[32] CNN in 2017 called the crowds "relentless."[17]


Bali was, in 2020, planning a US$10 tourist tax.[26]

Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan is the most toured part of Iraq, especially during Newroz. Tourists come from all around Iraq and the world for Newroz. In Duhok, 3 people were arrested for planning to burn 200 tires for the Newroz fire in 2022.[33][34] In Akre, a city famous for its Newroz celebrations, some locals decided to burn wooden torches instead of tires.[35]


Venice has faced declining population because of overtourism.[23] In 2019 Forbes called it one of the "most notably overtouristed destinations" in the world.[36] CNN in 2017 called the crowds "overbearing."[17] The city in 2018 tested the use of turnstiles in St. Mark's Square to control the number of visitors.[23] In 2020 the daily tourist tax was US$11.[26]

Capri in 2018 tested ways to limit day tourism.[23] Cinque Terre had 2.5 million visitors in 2015, and local authorities sought to limit visitors to 1.5 million in 2016, but a backlash resulted in this being walked back.[17] CNN in 2017 said that day tourists from cruise ships, who tour for a few hours and don't spend money, are blamed for environmental damage.[17] Officials in Rome made it illegal to sit on the Spanish Steps, with fines of up to US$448, due to damage caused by tourists.[17]

In the 2010´s Pragser Wildsee became an area of overtourism, receiving up to 17,000 visitors on a single summer day in 2020; as of 2023, there were vehicle access restrictions.


Kyoto officials as of 2019 had instituted a US$92 fine for tourists taking photographs of geishas without their permission.[20]


Mount Everest has become so overtouristed that climbers die of altitude sickness because of the delays caused by overcrowding.[36] As of 2020 the Nepalese government was planning to limit permits to those who had climbed another Nepalese peak 21,325 feet (6,500 m).[26]


Amsterdam instituted a daily tourist tax in 2019 [37] and eliminated official tours of the Red Light District in 2020.[38]


Tourists at Machu Picchu

As of 2019, Peru limits visitors to Machu Picchu to 5000 per day, but UNESCO believes the limit should be halved.[36] Starting in 2014 foreign tourists were required to hire a guide.[17] In 2020 the site was planning to issue 5,940 tickets per day, which is more than twice the 2,500 UNESCO recommends to preserve the ruins.[26]


In Barcelona, protesters have demonstrated in tourist beaches and other tourist-heavy neighborhoods and anti-tourist graffiti has appeared.[17][39] By 2013, 9,000,000 visitors were touring Park Güell annually, and officials limited entry to the park to 800 an hour.[39] The New Yorker said, "Park Güell’s shift from a shared public space into a cultural zone occupied almost exclusively by tourists is understood by some worried residents of Barcelona as a story about the prospective fate of the city itself."[39] According to Albert Arias, a geographer with the Barcelona government, the selling of tickets was “a very bad solution,” that "is acknowledging a problem by fencing off public space.”[39] Airbnb has contributed to overtourism, with in some sections of town experiencing a 45% decline in resident population between 2007 and 2019 due to investors purchasing properties to use as short-term rentals via the platform.[39]

By 2017 tourism had become a top concern among city officials, with a survey showing 60% of residents believed Barcelona had "reached or exceeded" its capacity to accommodate tourism.[39] In 2020 Barcelona was planning to limit cruise ships.[26] In April 2020 a proposal for radical change in the organisation of the city, the Manifesto for the Reorganisation of the City after COVID-19, was published in Barcelona, signed by 160 academics and 300 architects. The Manifesto is radically critical towards the touristification and commodification of the city, proposing to: "eliminate cruise ships", "maintain the current dimensions of the airport", "stimulate touristic degrowth", and "eliminate any investment to promote the 'Barcelona brand'".[40][41][42]

Other overtouristed areas in Spain include Mallorca and Alicante.[27]


Maya Bay was closed to the public after overtourism caused environmental issues.[43] Ao Phang Nga National Park was listed in 2017 in Fodor's list of places not to go in 2018 because of overtourism.[16][24]

United Kingdom

In Scotland, the Isle of Skye advised visitors not to come unless they had overnight lodging booked.[17]


In Hanoi in October 2019, a train had to make an emergency stop because of tourists on the tracks taking selfies.[20]

Taking action against overtourism

Pilica River Skansen, a new tourist attraction in the central part of Poland

In September 2018, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) published a report on overtourism and how to deal with it. The report highlights the importance of looking at tourism in a local context and details 11 strategies to deal with overtourism:[1]

  1. Increase the physical dispersion of crowds among different attractions within a city/destination;
  2. Increase the temporal dispersion of tourists (e.g., by encouraging off-season visits);
  3. Promote new and special-interest itineraries and attractions;
  4. Make effective use of regulations on tourism;
  5. Tailor activities to specific segments of the tourism market;
  6. Ensure that the communities and residents benefit from tourism;
  7. Create experiences beneficial to both tourists and residents;
  8. Expand infrastructure;
  9. Involve local residents in tourism policymaking;
  10. Communicate with tourists about the potential impacts of tourism on communities;
  11. Use data to monitor and respond to problems related to overtourism.

The consultancy firm McKinsey & Company suggests that to prevent overtourism one must focus on four priorities:[44]

In addition, systematic public-relations and communication is essential.[citation needed] Goals, measures, successes and failures of local tourism management must be made transparent to the inhabitants so that all relevant institutions become involved.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c 'Overtourism'? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions. 2018. doi:10.18111/9789284419999. ISBN 978-92-844-1999-9. S2CID 169221525.[page needed]
  2. ^ Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future. Island Press. 2021. ISBN 9781642830767.
  3. ^ a b c Koens, Ko; Postma, Albert; Papp, Bernadett (23 November 2018). "Is Overtourism Overused? Understanding the Impact of Tourism in a City Context". Sustainability. 10 (12): 4384. doi:10.3390/su10124384.
  4. ^ Sharma A & Hazan A. 2021. Overtourism as Destination Risk: Impacts and Solutions, Bingley: Emerald, pg.missing
  5. ^ Alastair M. Morrison (2023). Marketing and Managing Tourism Destinations. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781000876161.
  6. ^ Claudio Milano; Joseph M. Cheer; Marina Novelli, eds. (2019). Overtourism: Excesses, Discontents and Measures in Travel and Tourism. CABI. p. 2. ISBN 9781786399823.
  7. ^ Claudio Milano; Joseph M. Cheer; Marina Novelli, eds. (2019). Overtourism: Excesses, Discontents and Measures in Travel and Tourism. CABI. p. 3. ISBN 9781786399823.
  8. ^ a b Dimitrios Stylidis; Hania Janta; Konstantinos Andriotis, eds. (2022). Tourism Planning and Development in Eastern Europe. CABI. p. 2. ISBN 9781800620339.
  9. ^ McKercher, Bob; Wang, Dan; Park, Eerang (January 2015). "Social impacts as a function of place change" (PDF). Annals of Tourism Research. 50: 52–66. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2014.11.002. S2CID 154897811.
  10. ^ admin. "Crowded Out: The story of overtourism". Responsible Travel. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  11. ^ a b Rachel Dodds; Richard Butler, eds. (2019). Overtourism: Issues, Realities and Solutions. De Gruyter. p. 6. ISBN 9783110607369.
  12. ^ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality; NHTV Breda University of Applied Science; NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, eds. (2018-09-17). ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions, Executive Summary. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). doi:10.18111/9789284420070. ISBN 978-92-844-2007-0.
  13. ^ "Route map Easyjet". FlightConnections. 26 May 2023.
  14. ^ "Easyjet Online Booking". Easyjet. 26 May 2023.
  15. ^ Gold, Allyson (2019-12-01). "Community Consequences of Airbnb". Washington Law Review. 94 (4): 1577.
  16. ^ a b "Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor's 'where not to go' list". ctvnews. 2017-12-27. Retrieved 2018-05-08.
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  18. ^ Overheid, Aruba (2019-02-18). "Oxybenzone is killing corals and destroying marine biodiversity". Retrieved 2023-10-04.
  19. ^ Peterson, Ryan R. (2023-06-01). "Over the Caribbean Top: Community Well-Being and Over-Tourism in Small Island Tourism Economies". International Journal of Community Well-Being. 6 (2): 89–126. doi:10.1007/s42413-020-00094-3. ISSN 2524-5309. PMC 7643527. PMID 34723109.
  20. ^ a b c Diamond, Madeline (28 October 2019). "20 places around the world that are being ruined by tourism". Insider. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  21. ^ Hutton, Alice (2020-01-05). "Alpine village begs Frozen tourists to stay away". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  22. ^ Street, Francesca (9 January 2020). "How the village that inspired 'Frozen' is dealing with overtourism". CNN. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  23. ^ a b c d Sendlhofer, Thomas (13 May 2018). "Zu viele Touristen: Hallstatt zieht Notbremse". (in German). Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  24. ^ a b c "Fodor's No List 2018". Fodors Travel Guide. 2017-11-15. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  25. ^ Lovrović, Denis (2019-04-10). "Dubrovnik, Game of Thrones and overtourism – in pictures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h "10 Overtouristed Places and 10 Cool Alternatives". HGTV. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  27. ^ a b Lowrey, Annie (2019-06-04). "Too Many People Want to Travel". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  28. ^ Geiger, Stephanie (2020-08-26). "200 Jahre nach Erstbesteigung: Tourismus-Kollaps auf der Zugspitze". FAZ.NET (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  29. ^ Lin, Bing; Zeng, Yiwen; Asner, Gregory P.; Wilcove, David S. (9 January 2023). "Coral reefs and coastal tourism in Hawaii". Nature Sustainability. 6 (3): 254–258. doi:10.1038/s41893-022-01021-4. S2CID 255628332.
  30. ^ "Justin Bieber effect leads to closure of Icelandic canyon". The Guardian. Associated Press. 2019-05-19. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  31. ^ "Northern Sights: The future of tourism in Iceland. A perspective from The Boston Consulting Group. September 2013". Retrieved 2023-12-04.
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  33. ^ "Three arrested in Duhok for burning tires during Newroz celebrations". Retrieved 2023-05-27.
  34. ^ Editorial Staff (2021-03-23). "People left behind garbage in Iraqi Kurdistan nature after Newroz". Kurd Net - Daily News. Retrieved 2023-05-27.
  35. ^ "Akre to burn wooden torches instead of tires for Newroz Eve celebrations". Retrieved 2023-05-27.
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  43. ^ "Maya Bay: The beach nobody can touch" (Video). BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  44. ^ McKinsey (2017). Coping with success: Managing overcrowding in tourism destinations. McKinsey.