Big Comeback of Mass Tourism?

Welcome to Monday Report – every Monday, this spring, we discuss one of the topics related to the current crisis of the travel industry.

For the moment, all guided tours are cancelled, but Rilak’s Zagreb Guide is continuing online. Stay safe, stay healthy and check our April 2020 online sections!

Very unusual scenes coming from China right now. While most of the countries are still completely or partially under very strict rules related to the current health crisis, China returns to “normal”. And after being under lock down, the Chinese have decided – of course – to go out… Result: unprecedented number of tourists in some of the most famous sights of the country, according to a CNN report.

Screenshot_2020-04-06 Chinese tourist sites packed as country comes out of lockdown, but experts say risk still high

Source of the photo: CNN.

Health experts are warning – the pandemic is still not quite contained. And yes, it seems most of the visitors are wearing masks, but will this be an example of “too much, too soon”?

In last week’s Monday Report, I spoke about the current crisis in the travel industry, reassuring that it’s certainly not the end, simply because psychologically people will “want” to travel. Now, whether or not they will have the money to travel around the world two times a year, that’s another issue, but tourism will continue, in some form. But these scenes were not something I expected. I hoped tourism will recover maybe by the end of this or next year. In China, it took them a couple of days…

Will we see the same phenomenon happening all over the world after all of this is over? I hope not. Maybe you wonder – How can you say that? You’re a guide, a tourist worker, so by definition you should care about huge numbers of people visiting your country so that you can earn a lot of money, right? Of course I care about many people visiting my country, and I would be a fool if I said I don’t like money, but we have to ask ourselves a question – Is it worth it? Are we sacrificing our nature and our health and health of our visitors – for what?

cash dollars hands money

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Will Venice be overcrowded in September and October because all of the sudden everybody who missed it this spring will want to go there? In the last weeks we’ve been watching photos and videos of nature that is “restoring” itself and I found some interesting reports of ecologists that were very unhappy – their logic is simple – when all of this ends, some factories will create double shifts to restore the profit that they lost so… will the final result be even worse? The same parallel can be drawn with tourism.

In Croatia, there are (or they were) two sights that faced problems with huge crowds and mass tourism. The first one is the old city of Dubrovnik.

dubrovnik mass

Entrance to Dubrovnik, August 2016. My photo.

A scene from a photo above is something that statistically happens very rarely in Dubrovnik. During the winter months, the city doesn’t have many visitors so, of course, if there is a huge crowd five days a year, statistically, it doesn’t mean a lot. And yet, the city authorities created a list of measures and in the last two years the situation is much better. It really doesn’t take a lot – you could see some progress just by limiting a number of cruise ships in Dubrovnik that are allowed in one day.

The other sight is the only UNESCO-protected natural sight in Croatia – the National park of Plitvice Lakes. There as well, the direction of the park created some new rules last year. And although, at the beginning, it was confusing, we learnt to appreciate the new rules. You can’t just arrive to the park and buy a ticket – there is a limit to the number of visitors that can enter the park, you check your preferred timetable on line, get your ticket and arrive to the park at your designated time. You can check more info on the Park’s official page!

Now those rules seem simple and logical, but you would be surprised how many times I’ve heard last year “I’m from country XY, I booked the entrance to this park in my agency at home, I gave the money and now I do whatever and whenever I want and I want to enter now…” No, you can’t. You will file a complaint? Okay, you’re still not entering until your time is up.

And I think the picture above from the national park of Huangshan in China is the best proof that some limits to mass tourism must be implemented. Also, it’s the best way people will start to appreciate their own travel plans. Let’s put it simple: would you prefer to be in a crowd like shown above or would you prefer to have a coffee while we wait our turn so that we can really enjoy our time in a park, not just take a selfie?

plitive lakes

Work from home was never harder. Plitvice Lakes – Upper Lakes, last year.

Now, what do you think? When this health crisis is over and people are allowed to travel, will we see an over-abundance of travelers?

For the moment, all guided tours are cancelled, but Rilak’s Zagreb Guide is continuing online. Stay safe, stay healthy and check our April 2020 online sections!

 

15 replies

  1. I’ve been thinking the same about the flood of tourism back to all the incredible places of the world. It’s such a dilemma as I know people need money to survive but overtourism has changed the atmosphere of so many places. Perhaps like people have acclimated to restrictions from this virus, they will understand and appreciate when places put more limits on how many people can enter and stay at various sites around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel that this blog was an old draft that you posted now. I don’t think mass tourism is going to comeback this year. Once the lockdown is lifted in every country, the travel industry will take time to get on its feet and mass tourism will not make a comeback before 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not exactly a draft, since I didn’t manage to even “draft” anything new for more than a year. But yes, those are some of the thoughts I had in past years working in tourism… I guess my recent posts are some unintended positive consequences – when all your activity is suspended, you stop and re-think.

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  3. I think overcrowded tourism will be back and sometimes we can’t blame those who want to explore and get out of the long isolation. We can’t control what others wish, but we can control ourselves. Before we travel, we must make sure we have complete vaccination (soon!) and travel + health insurance. We should start traveling locally as a way of giving back to the community.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course, in fact the whole industry is counting on people who will want to get out of isolation! And yes, some responsibility is on the traveler (health insurance and their own health), but greatest responsibility is on the travel destination itself – we need to make sure that those who want to visit us will really enjoy it and you can’t really enjoy a small city in a huge crowd, not to mention ecological concerns. Supporting local economy is I think a best way to start…

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  4. I don’t think mass tourism will be there looking to the current situation. This year tourism industry will be worst hit.And ya some measures are needed to control mass tourism but its not entirely possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by! Yes, some measures are needed, but “strict control” is something that is the complete opposite to the idea of traveling and exploring. We need to find a proper balance.

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  5. Interesting take! I had no idea about the mass tourism coming back in China, but I am not surprised. I think it’s exactly as you say, people will all want to make up for their cancelled trips this spring. After being stuck at home for several months, we all can’t wait to be able to travel again. I fear we will return to the way travel was in 2019, completely unsustainable, but I think it will take a while before we reach that point again. People have less money and I expect there will be some restrictions on travel for the rest of the year. My hope is that governments will take this opportunity to impose stricter regulations to limit mass tourism and promote sustainable travel practices. And I hope that people will be motivated to travel more mindfully. This has been a disaster for the travel industry, but perhaps a blessing in disguise. We have a unique opportunity to change the way we travel, with less flights and less mass tourism. And instead focusing more on local and domestic tourism, slow travel and traveling in a way that is respectful to nature and local communities. It’s not often we get to “reboot” an entire industry, this could be our chance to be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was an interesting read. Overtourism is real and is there to stay. I did not know that the Chinese have started travelling so soon. What will happen after we overcome the pandemic cannot be said so soon. While there are some who would prefer to remain home and not travel, there are others as well who would start travelling as soon as the lockdown period is over. Infact, one of my cousins has been asking for advice about where to travel after this pandemic period gets over. I was so surprised and asked her to stay home.
    There might be travel restrictions for a year. We as stakeholders of travel and tourism should be more careful about what we suggest people and how we promote tourism after this period. Hope things shape up in a better way in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to admit that these photos from China scared me. It looks like a nightmare. I would not like to participate in this.
    As for Croatia, I love your country but I avoid these crowded tourist places. I prefer traveling around the small towns on the islands, which are more authentic, although unfortunately it also changes quite quickly. I visit Croatia every year for off the beaten path places, secret beaches, and beautiful nature. However, to be honest I start to notice that it is already becoming too touristy. It is a pity because this destination is starting to lose what was its unique value.
    I wish you could work out a good compromise between tourism profits and the protection of the country’s heritage and nature. It would be a shame if Croatia would become like all other tourist destinations in Europe and lose its charm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s something that is very conflicting for us working in tourism in Croatia. We’re not used to crowds and when they started happening people started to think about solutions. Hopefully, we’ll find that compromise. Ironically, now we have the time to think about it.

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