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photo: Canal Tours Copenhagen

Copenhagen and Tallinn involved in overtourism study

A new UNWTO report is aimed at helping cities manage the often painful impact of tourism on local residents.

A new World Tourism Organization report aims to help cities manage their growing urban tourism flows and tourism’s impact on cities and residents.

The study, called ‘Overtourism? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions’, was launched during the latest UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism in Seoul last week.

It examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations to the benefit of visitors and residents and proposes 11 strategies and 68 measures to help understand and manage visitor growth.

To better understand visitor management challenges, particularly the relationship between residents and visitors, the report includes an analysis of residents’ perceptions towards tourism in eight European cities – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Munich, Salzburg and Tallinn.

News emerged in particular in summer 2017 about negative attitudes among some local populations towards visitors due to perceived overcrowding, noise and other issues, leading to the spread of terms like overtourism and tourismphobia.

The rapid growth of tourism “requires the sector to ensure sustainable policies and practices that minimize adverse effects of tourism on the use of natural resources, infrastructure, mobility and congestion, as well as its socio-cultural impact”, the report says.

“Governance is key. Addressing the challenges facing urban tourism today is a much more complex issue than is commonly recognized,” thinks UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“We need to set a sustainable roadmap for urban tourism and place tourism in the wider urban agenda. We must also ensure that local communities see and benefit from the positive aspects of tourism.”

The report recommends a common strategic vision among all stakeholders involved, bringing residents and visitors together and adopting careful planning that respects the limits of capacity and the specificities of each destination.

“The involvement and support of local residents is key in achieving sustainable tourism”, Professor Albert Postma, one of the report’s authors, explains. “Building shared responsibility among stakeholders directly or indirectly involved in tourism development is key to ensuring long-term sustainability.”

The report is the result of a collaboration between the UNWTO and a number of Dutch vocational universities – the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality, the Breda University of Applied Sciences and the European Tourism Futures Institute at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.

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