UNWTO and CELTH report ‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth Beyond Perceptions

A 12-page Executive Summary based on a collaboration between UNWTO and CELTH the Foreword of which notes how vital it is that adequate management of tourism exists for the benefit of both visitors and residents. 

The report itself examines the perception of tourism by residents of European cities and sets out dozens of ways in which urban areas can manage and promote the dispersal of tourism flows. 

Overtourism is defined as “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experience in a negative way”.  It is suggested that overtourism is the opposite ‘Responsible Tourism’. 

Overtourism is said to arise when there is an absence of management and uncontrolled development, with rapid growth in urban living and tourism flows over recent decades having exacerbated the issue. 

Ways of addressing the issue include community engagement, congestion management, reduction in seasonality, capacity limits and product diversification. 

What are termed four myths are discussed, namely that tourism congestion is not only about the number of tourists but also the capacity to manage them, tourism congestion is commonly a localised rather than citywide issue, tourism congestion is not a tourism-only problem and technology alone won’t solve the issue of tourism congestion. 

A comprehensive table sets out 11 strategies that can be adopted alongside the various measures that sit beneath each strategy.  This is followed by commentary on a dozen policy recommendations that urban destinations are encouraged to adopt.