Cruiseships spitting out thousands of tourists, hotels rising up like mushrooms from the ground, companies taking over the duties of the letter and so on. Some cities really suffer from all the visits they get from (foreign) tourists. The locals are complaining about trash in the streets, noisy Airbnb ‘neighbours’ and closing shops that answer the wishes of the people who actually live there. What’s happening here and don’t we need to act now before it’s to late and cities turn into giant theme parks?
Some months ago I saw the documentary I love Venice for the first time. Although this documentary was first broadcasted in 2014, I only saw it this year and was stunned by the problems that the still growing tourism flood causes in the inner city. Every year, 20 million (!) tourists come visit Venice, which drives out the locals of the old city to the near suburbs. Were there still 180.000 locals living in the old city in the 60’s, nowadays only 50.000 people are left.
Barcelona is also suffering from the flood of tourists showing up the doorstep every year. Every summer day about 350.000 people walk over the famous Rambla; which is the same number as people living in the city of Utrecht! Not the lack of jobs is to be found the number 1 problem anymore, but the number of tourists visiting the city. Only a few weeks ago, protests from the youth group Arran against the increasing tourist flood, got in the news all over Europe.
And than there is Amsterdam, the city I live in. Over the past years I have seen the number of tourists increasing, especially those from Asia. Guides who make tours with about 50 people, screaming through bullhorns, blocking the roads. It’s no fun. Groceries dissappear; Nutella and waffles stores are opening by the dozen. Sometimes I have the feeling that in a few decades every world city will give you the same experience, only in a different decor. So what can we do?
Ofcourse the government can help in force back the tourist flood in the world cities. Amsterdam Marketing decided to stop the campaigns to attract more tourism to Amsterdam. The people who are coming are secuded to also visit the surroundings (Amsterdam Beach – Zandvoort, Amsterdam Castle – het Muiderslot) and new rules are created for renting appartments via Airbnb. In Barcelona the mayor created a hotel stop and in Venice the protest of the locals is becoming louder.
But that are decisions made by the government. We ourselves, could also think about travelling to different destinations, or to the main cities in the lower season and above all, always be respectful of the daily life on our travel destinations. Always remember you are a guests, visiting real people their homes. Let’s save the authencity of our ‘pearls’ and have a bit more attention for the local life. We don’t want to lose the real Amsterdam (Venice / Barcelona / New York / Paris) experience, don’t we? 🙂