“Over-tourism” or Opportunity?

If you have traveled outside the U.S. within the last five years, you may have realized that you need to develop some new travel skills. While this is particularly true of visits to more well-known places such as Paris, Vienna and New York (Yes – coming from California, I do consider New York a foreign country), those are not the only places where new skills can come in handy.

The skills? 1) Wait and stand and 2) Body Blocking 1A

I recently had the privilege of going on a fourteen-day tour of seven Baltic countries. The area has a long, rich, history and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. There were three destinations where the new skills came in handy. We visited the Hermitage and the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg as well as the museum in Gdansk, Poland. This was my first experience with “over-tourism” on such a grand scale. We employed the “Wait and Stand” strategy as we waited for the long line at the entrance gate to snake its way through the entry and in to the building. Next, we employed “Body Blocking”.

I was reluctant to employ “Body Blocking” at first. After all, one should wait patiently, say excuse me, and above all take turns. But when I discovered that this strategy resulted in an elbow in my stomach and the inability to keep my feet under me, I reconsidered. My elbow came out, I stepped down even though someone else’s foot occupied the area, and I never said “excuse me”.

Although we toured these sites during national holidays in Poland and Russia, most of the people employing the ‘new skills’ were fellow tourists from countries all over the world.

The last few days, the press has been discussing “Over-tourism.” Plagued by tourists in Vienna who jump into the canals from the bridges and tourists who dress “inappropriately,” Vienna is considering levying a fine for such behavior. In an interview, an airline steward remarked that tourist seem to forget common courtesy when traveling. Another commentator blamed “Over-tourism” on the availability of “cheap flights.”

I don’t have a solution to this situation. It would be a great loss if people stopped traveling. Travel is an eye-opener. It can makes us more tolerant, more informed and better world citizens.

ST. Stephens in Riga, Latvia – it has been a Catholic church and is now a Lutheran Church.
Ruins at Visby, Sweden. Visby was part of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trade organization. When the Hanseatic League disintegrated, Visby lost its economic base. The Ruins remain because the town was too poor to rebuild. It is a rich source for understanding the past.


2 thoughts on ““Over-tourism” or Opportunity?

  1. I live in an Italian coastal town. In the recent few years, there has been a increase in cruise ships.
    Now the following situation is quite common. It’s pretty funny or scary (it depends on your point of view …).
    For a few hours, especially on weekends, tourists disembarked from ships and go to the oldest part of the city. They all go to the same places, do the same things in a hurry. They take, first of all, a lot of photos.
    For example, they suddenly leave the sidewalk and move to the center of windy, narrow and picturesque streets to capture images of ancient buildings.
    But they don’t seem to notice they are in streets dedicated to car traffic. We have to commend our driver’s readiness.
    Many of them don’t seem to be interested in anything else. Sometimes I look for comments on social media. I try to understand what are their memories “day after”. After reading, I am no longer so sure that this type of travel could be an eye-opener.


    • Tirreno, I agree, this kind of travel can be both frightening and funny. Maybe this attitude comes from travelers making a “once in a life time trip.” It’s easy to miss the important things if you feel this is the only trip you will make. Frankly, such trips can be seen as a status symbol rather than a valuable experience. There are other ways of traveling.


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