The definition of declutter is to organize or to remove a mess or unnecessary items from an overcrowded place. So how do we declutter overcrowded places when the clutter are too many visitors and their negative impacts?
International tourist arrivals reach a total of 1.322 billion in 2017 according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4%-5% and forecasted to reach over 3 billion by 2030.
Tourism have a positive impact on the economy, but it also leaves a massive negative impact in communities and in the air, land and sea. The carbon footprint of air travel to bring tourists to destinations contribute to a warming planet and climate change. Many popular destinations cannot cope with the littering, long queues, overcrowding, environmental damage, bad behavior induced by stress, drugs, alcohol and sex tourism’s exploitation of women and children. Tourism also compete with the local community for resources such as water and energy, increased rental costs, congest space, bring stress and take away their peace of mind.
itmustbeNOW Magazine spotlighted this growing environmental and social problem in the NOW Guide to Overtourism which refers to the tipping point where the drawbacks of having a lot of people at a destination outweigh the benefits, and many worldwide tourist destinations have reached and gone beyond it.
Justin Francis, founder of Responsible Travel tells us, ‘We have arrived at a crisis point that we saw coming and for every destination that’s reached its capacity (and every destination has one) there are thousands of communities that would welcome more tourists and responsible tourism.’ Their film ‘Crowded Out – The Story of Overtourism’ which we feature in CHANGE MATTERS NOW identify governments at the heart of problem and their lack of recognition of tourism as a serious industry or willingness to manage and regulate the businesses involved in it.
The ‘quantity over quality’ approach of most governments and tourism companies have turned many destinations into overcrowded hellholes and we are at a crisis point in many countries. However, solving environmental and social problems are not just for government and businesses anymore.
As tourists or travellers, we are a part of the problem … and we can choose to be part of the solution. We have a vote, a choice and the spending power to drive change and declutter a destination.
As tourists, we are more governed by time and feel the need to get as much sightseeing in as possible, and take photos of ourselves in these locations to show that we were there. These photos, the momentos we buy and the local food we eat become our narrative for what a country was like. Being a tourist is great if we have limited time and enjoy getting glimpses of other cultures to photograph and trying a local dish. We know that our money supports destinations and cultures, but most tourists also bring their expectations to the destinations they visit and expect people there to live up to them.
As travellers, we visit a country for a few weeks and experience it. We do not need to rush and sites do not need to be seen in a hurry. The essence of the experience is the journey and the memories we cherish are the moments of interaction, fun and spontaneity when connecting with local people and the environment.
As responsible tourists or travellers, we have enormous power to help make a difference in the destinations we visit or reside, and we are influential in the way countries and companies treat their citizens, foreign workers, indigenous people, wildlife and the environment. Be informed about the destination and culture, and reduce your carbon footprint by only supporting accommodations that are committed to sustainability and are accountable and transparent with no greenwash allowed.
Whether we choose to be a tourist or a traveller, we are all visitors and must respect the destination, its people and its culture. Plan your travel with a responsible travel operator who will help you make an informed choice. https://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/overtourism-solutions.
Be a part of the solution and inspire others to make a difference by telling us about your travels and your positive actions, and how you gave back to your host communities.
It must be NOW!