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The Overtourism Debate
The Overtourism Debate: NIMBY, Nuisance, Commodification
Jeroen A. Oskam
HotelschoolThe Hague, The Netherlands
United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China
Emerald Publishing Limited
Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK
First edition 2020
Copyright ©2020 Emerald Publishing Limited
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Andrea Amaduzzi is Full Professor of Business Economics at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is one of the leading experts in Italy on corporate valuation issues.
Alessandro Capocchi is Full Professor of Business Economics at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He collaborates as an expert with the Council of Europe. He is member of the Accademia Italiana di EconomiaAziendale (AIDEA), Società Italiana di Storiadella Ragioneria (SISR), Società Italiana dei Docenti di Ragioneria e di EconomiaAziendale (SIDREA) and ANAHEI – Association of North America Higher Education International.
Agustín Cocola-Gant is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon (IGOT-UL). His research focuses on tourism and urban restructuring and pays particular attention to the connections between tourism and gentrification as well as to the role of Airbnb in driving real estate investment and neighbourhood change.
Claire Colomb is Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL) and holds a first degree in Politics and Sociology (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, France) and a PhD in Planning (University College London). Her research interests cover urban and regional governance, planning and urban regeneration in European cities, urban social movements, European spatial planning and territorial cooperation, and comparative planning. She is the author of Staging the new Berlin: Place Marketing and the Politics of Urban Reinvention (Routledge, 2011) and a co-editor of the volume Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City (Routledge, 2017).
Javier Escalera Reyes is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University Pablo de Olavide of Seville, where he is Director of the International Campus of Excellence in Environment, Biodiversity and Global Change CEI CamBio. His research interests include Political Anthropology, Environmental Anthropology, Tourism, Participatory Research, Cultural Heritage and Collective Identities, having conducted fieldwork in Andalusia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Ana Gago is a PhD student in Human Geography at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa (IGOT-UL). She holds a BSc degree in Architecture (Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa) and a master's degree in Tourism and Communication (IGOT-UL). Since 2015, she has been researching on the impacts of Airbnb and tourism in the social fabric of residential neighbourhoods. Her PhD research aims at drawing connections between Airbnb, tourism and the right to the city.
Macarena Hernández Ramírez is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University Pablo de Olavide of Seville, where she is co-ordinator of the doctoral programmes in Social Sciences. Her research interests include Human Behaviour in Cities, Urban Transport, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, having conducted fieldwork in Andalusia, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.
Jaime Jover is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Human Geography, University of Seville, Spain. He works at the crossroads of the Social Sciences and the Humanities, looking into processes of socio-spatial transformation in relation to tourism, historic preservation and the role of urban social movements.
Ares Kalandides is Professor of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University and director of the Institute of Place Management. He is the founder and managing director of the Berlin-based consultancy Inpolis Urbanism and has worked in cities around in Europe and around the world. His current research focuses on issues of citizen participation in urban development. He is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Place.
Ko Koens is a Professor of New Urban Tourism at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. Ko earned his PhD in Responsible Tourism from Leeds Beckett University with a research project on the market access of small township tourism businesses and holds a master in Social Psychology and Environmental Studies (both at Utrecht University). His research interests are sustainable urban tourism, slum tourism, city hospitality, visitor pressure, small businesses and local economic development.
Fergus T. Maclaren, Principal at MAC-DUFF Tourism Heritage Planning, is a sustainable tourism and cultural heritage management professional with 25 years of experience in Canada and internationally. He was the Director of the United Nations–sponsored International Year of Ecotourism program with the International Ecotourism Society from 2001–2003. Mr Maclaren has taught sustainable tourism at McGill University and lectured on the subject at post-secondary institutions in North America and Asia. He was elected President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Cultural Tourism Committee in December 2017, and has acted as the Canadian National Expert Representative since 2008. He also currently serves as the Head of International Relations and Knowledge Management for the Africa-focused Economic Innovation Institute for Africa, responsible for the development of their sustainable tourism program.
Marco Martins has a PhD in tourism sciences taken in the University of Perpignan Via Domitia (UPVD – France), is an assistant professor at the ESACT (School of Communication Administration and Tourism) of the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Portugal, since 2018, and is or was invited assistant professor in other polytechnic institutions in Portugal such as: ESTH of the polytechnic Institute of Guarda; ISLA – Polytechnic Institute of Management and Technology; ISPGAYA – Polytechnic Institute of Gaia among others.
Una McMahon-Beattie is Professor and Head of Department for Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ulster University (UK). Her research interests include tourism futures, tourism and event marketing and revenue management. Una sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Tourism Futures and is the Deputy Editor of the Journal of Revenue Management and Pricing. She is the author/editor of a number of books, including the recently published Future Past of Tourism: Historical Perspectives and Future Evolutions and the forthcoming book titled Science Fiction, Disruption and Tourism.
Johannes Novy holds a PhD in Urban Planning and works as Senior Lecturer at University of Westminster in London. He is the course director of the university's MA Urban and Regional Planning programme and teaches, researches and writes about a wide range of issues surrounding urban planning, urban development and urban tourism. Some of his most recent publications include the co-edited volume Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City (Routledge, 2017) and the journal article ‘“Destination” Berlin revisited. From (new) tourism towards a pentagon of mobility and place consumption’ (Tourism Geographies, 20(3)).
Paola Orlandini is Full Professor of Business Economics at the University of Milano-Bicocca. She is carrying out several research activities with a particular attention to the sustainability issues.
Jeroen A. Oskam obtained his PhD in 1992 from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in the area of Sociology of Literature. He has worked at different universities and hotel and tourism schools in the Netherlands and in Spain. He led the European Tourism Futures Institute, which he transformed into a centre of international cooperation, and where he was one of the founders of the Journal of Tourism Futures. He currently is the director of the Research Centre of Hotelschool The Hague (Amsterdam and The Hague, the Netherlands). His own research focuses on the future of hospitality, with recent scenario studies on topics as OTAs and urban vacation rentals. He has published a number of articles on Airbnb as well as a book titled The Future of Airbnb and the 'Sharing Economy'. The Collaborative Consumption of Our Cities (Channelview, 2019).
Alexis Papathanassis studied at the University of Bath and the London School of Economics (United Kingdom). He completed his PhD in Economic Sciences at the Leibniz University (Hanover) in Germany. Prior to joining fulltime academia, Alexis pursued a career at TUI. Upon his departure from the group as a business development manager with TUI Infotec, Alexis had already participated and successfully led various systems integration projects in six TUI subsidiaries around Europe. Since 2005, Alexis Papathanassis is a Professor for Cruise Management and e-Tourism at the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences. He currently acts as a Dean for the Faculty of Management and Information Systems, is a Co-Director of the Institute for Maritime Tourism and the Chairman of the Cruise Research Society. He also works regularly as a consultant for a number of tour operators and cruise companies. Alexis' publication activity mainly focuses on the cruise sector and comprises over 100 contributions in textbooks, peer-reviewed scientific journals and conferences.
Bernadett Papp is active as a researcher in several on-going research projects at the European Tourism Futures Institute. She focuses mostly on urban tourism development and related challenges. She is also involved in education as a lecturer and module coordinator in the bachelor and master programs of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. She is active in the field of scenario planning and strategic foresight as well.
Marc Patry after obtaining his MSc in rural planning and development in 1992, Marc Patry worked in agricultural land use planning in Ontario and sustainable community forestry in Mexico's Yucatan before taking on a goat eradication project management job with the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos Islands in 1998. During his time in the islands, he and his wife organized an expedition cruise for friends and family – thus establishing the foundations of what would become their full-time occupation 15 years later. In 2003 he began an 11-year job with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in Paris, where his portfolio included natural heritage sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. During that time, his wife built up their Galapagos travel business. He left UNESCO in 2015 to join his wife on the business and now spends most of his time on that endeavour, while providing occasional expert advice on World Heritage matters. Marc sits on the governing bodies of the Charles Darwin Foundation, the International Galapagos Tour Operators' Association and the Travel Industry Council of Ontario.
Dalia Perkumienė holds a PhD in Law and is an associate professor at the Faculty of Bioeconomy Development, Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania. Her scientific interests are: international private law, environmental law, sustainability, heritage and tourism.
Rasa Pranskūnienė holds a PhD in Social Sciences, and is a Committee member of the study program ‘Cultural and Tourism Management’ at the Faculty of Bioeconomy Development, Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania; Museum director of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania. Her scientific interests are: sustainability, heritage and tourism, critical theory, cultural tourism management, interactivity, grounded theory, qualitative research methods.
Albert Postma is professor of strategic foresight and scenario planning at the European Tourism Futures Institute (www.etfi.eu), NHL Stenden University. He has been applying his expertise in numerous projects for national and international clients, some of which are conducted in collaboration with organisations such as CELTH, ETOA, UNWTO, ETC and WTTC. Since he finished his PhD study on community tourism relations in 2013, he has been at the forefront of studies in overtourism. Postma has been teaching courses in strategic foresight and scenario planning to undergraduatue and master students in universities within and outside the Netherlands, is a respected speaker at business and academic conferences and a skilled moderator of creative sessions with representatives of the leisure and tourism industry. He has authored dozens of technical research reports and articles related to these areas of expertise and is the co-editor of the book The Future of European Tourism and the Journal of Tourism Futures.
Cinzia Vallone is assistant professor in Accounting and PhD in Strategy and business economics at the University of Milan Bicocca. She has always been involved in research activities on tourism issues. She has written several articles on sustainable tourism, on the innovative forms of hospitality. Among others she is the author of a chapter: ‘Albergo Diffuso and Tourists perception: a new model of hospitality oriented to the revitalization of cultural heritage’; and an article with the title: ‘Sustainability and innovation: the Albergo Diffuso case study’.
Alfonso Vargas-Sánchez is Full Professor at the Faculty of Business Studies and Tourism of Huelva University (Spain). PhD in Business Administration, his research interests are mainly focused on the strategic management of tourism companies and destinations. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Enlightening Tourism: A Pathmaking Journal (ET).
Karoline Wiegerink (PhD MSc) holds The Chair in City Hospitality and City Marketing at Hotelschool The Hague and is the director of a Community Platform for Customer Centricity Professionals. During her professional career, she has always combined academic and practical work. As an economist and marketer, she gained special experience in the field of live communication and event marketing and shared that knowledge as a director at Erasmus Centre of Event Marketing (ECBM) and lecturer at Erasmus School of Economics, also afilliated as a part-time associate professor at Nyenrode Business University. As a consultant, co-creator and keynote speaker she focuses on creating customer value through hospitality experience. Focus areas are cities, urban spaces and neighbourhoods wherein different dimensions of hospitality contribute to liveability and lovability.
Ian Yeoman is an associate professor of Tourism Futures at Victoria University of Wellington and Visiting Professor at the European Tourism Futures Institute and Ulster University. Ian is co-editor of the Journal of Tourism Futures and co-editor of Channel View's The Future of Tourism series. He is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the forthcoming titles, Science Fiction, Disruption and Tourism and Global Scenarios for World Tourism. Outside the future, Ian is New Zealand's number one Sunderland A.F.C. fan.
‘A funny thing happened on the way to the baseline future – something else!’ (Hines and Bishop, 2013, p. 43). In the Spring of 2020, cities that used to see their streets and squares filled with visitors and residents, with the corresponding lively bustle and, sometimes, tensions between those different users, are empty and in lockdown. Restaurants and bars are closed, hotels have seen their occupancies fall to 6% and air traffic has been all but paralysed. Instead of the ‘visitor economy’, we now see children play in formerly overcrowded streets, and uncommon examples of wildlife returning to Europe's metropolises constitute a bizarre illustration of ‘the contested use of urban space’.
So, in addition to the question whether overtourism is a thing, which the authors have tried to address in this book, we now need to look into an even more challenging one: will it ever be a thing again? It is not unthinkable that some of the things we used to do on our holidays will remain impossible, unpopular, unaffordable or illegal: going on a cruise, to a theatre or moving through the tourist masses in cities like Venice. More importantly, every crisis comes with post-crisis resolutions about a fairer and more sustainable world, resolutions that may, however, be abandoned as fast and as completely as a gym in the month of February. It seems there are three plausible scenarios for the future of travel and tourism: besides this well-intended but perhaps unlikely turn to sustainability (Hall et al., 2020), we may either go back to where we were, or we may, even if we would like to return to growth curves, be withheld by the conditions of an uglier world: increased unemployment and poverty, plummeting consumer confidence, fear, closed borders and nationalist protectionism.
In any case, what has become clear is that a world without travel is not what anyone had wished for, probably not even the fiercest anti-tourism protesters. People’s livelihoods depend on tourism, even entire regional economies, causing much wider aftershocks beyond those directly employed in hotels, restaurants or airlines. The impossibility to travel comes at a bad moment when voices around the world can be heard to put America, Britain or France first; the risk is that an economically inspired turn to protectionism will be followed by countries turning in on themselves socially and culturally.
However, it is a logical fallacy to assume that, because there is undertourism, overtourism cannot exist – or the other way around. Developing tourism is a complex process with many strategic choices, not a dichotomous decision. Many systems are characterised by lower and upper limits; if we do not eat, we die, but if we eat too much we also suffer health problems. Droughts in northern Europe and floods in arid regions show that opposite excesses are more likely to indicate that a system suffers an imbalance, rather than that is approaching a solution. Demand for travel has been suppressed, but not eradicated; that is a good thing. The causes of uncontrolled growth are also still there; that is more problematic.
What should be done to plan for a responsible recovery? As several chapters in this book observe, overtourism – visitor numbers experienced as excessive by residents – is mostly addressed at destination level, whilst the root causes lie in the demand side. So if destination authorities cannot effectively intervene, who can? In travel and tourism, numerous businesses benefit from demand growth without any possible accountability for the negative external effects of that growth. We have relied too much on the moderating effects of free market mechanisms, which in reality hardly exist.
If this crisis clarifies one thing, it is that, whether it is in the search for vaccines and therapeutics, the restart of international travel, the planning of our cities or the rethinking of tourism, science may be better at providing answers than market dynamics. A responsible recovery of tourism does not only mean one in which negative externalities are reduced or accounted for, but also one where the access to even scarcer space and amenities will not remain limited to the high-spending, so-called ‘quality tourist’. This requires a continued interdisciplinary effort that avoids both dichotomous answers and fixes that only serve short-term interests.
Jeroen A. Oskam
Amsterdam, 24 May 2020
Hall et al., 2020 Hall, C. M. , Scott, D. & Gössling, S. (2020). Pandemics, transformations and tourism: be careful what you wish for. Tourism Geographies , DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2020.1759131.
Hines and Bishop, 2013 Hines, A. & Bishop, P. C. (2013). Framework foresight: Exploring futures the Houston way. Futures, 51, 31–54.
- Chapter 1 Introduction
- Section 1 Tourism Demand
- Chapter 2 Reframing the Structural Causes of Overtourism: Open-source Mass Tourism and the Case for a Paradigm Shift in the Management of Holiday Supply Chains
- Chapter 3 Debating the Right to Travel
- Chapter 4 The Will to Travel
- Section 2 Anger and Protest
- Chapter 5 Getting over Overtourism!
- Chapter 6 Overdosed, Underplanned or What? Making Sense of Urban Tourism's ‘Politicisation from Below’
- Chapter 7 The Unhospitable City: Residents' Reactions to Tourism Growth in Amsterdam
- Section 3 The Transformation of Cities
- Chapter 8 Tourism, Gentrification and Neighbourhood Change: An Analytical Framework– Reflections from Southern European Cities
- Chapter 9 The Impact of Touristification in City Neighbourhoods – The Case of Lisbon
- Chapter 10 Commodification of the ‘Local’ in Urban Tourism: The Airbnb Contradiction
- Chapter 11 ‘Authentic Seville’: Between Essentialism and Tourist Commodification – The Feria de Abril
- Section 4 Impact on Heritage Sites
- Chapter 12 Cultural Heritage Resources in National Parks in North America – The Challenge to Maintain Historic Structures and Sites in the Face of Increasing Demand and Decreasing Budgets
- Chapter 13 Growing… Growing… Gone: Tourism and Extinctions in Galapagos
- Section 5 Policies and Measures
- Chapter 14 Overtourism: Carrying Capacity Revisited
- Chapter 15 Tourism Management in Berlin: From Destination Marketing to Place Management
- Chapter 16 Overtourism and Smart Cities: Present and Future
- Chapter 17 Can the New Hospitality Model of Albergo Diffuso Solve the Overtourism Issue? The Case of Tuscany
- Chapter 18 Conclusion