5. Tourist use of homes: driven by the rise of platforms such as Airbnb, many homes (flats, flats, houses, rural properties...) are now being marketed as homes for tourist use (whether urban, rural or holiday). Owners obtain a higher return on their homes by renting them out through this modality than with traditional rentals. This has two consequences:
On the one hand, from a supply perspective: it significantly increases the supply of accommodation to accommodate tourists, so that certain destinations suddenly become able to receive a much larger number of tourists without having the infrastructures prepared for it.
On the other hand, it reduces the supply of affordable residential housing for the local community (unless they inherit property from their relatives, it is very difficult to live in the region), as well as for people from other regions (having to spend a large part of their salary on accommodation).
NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF TOURISM
This unstoppable development of tourist activity has had undesirable consequences in some tourist destinations:
Gentrification: a process whereby the population of certain territories (or neighbourhoods of cities) is displaced by other inhabitants of a higher socio-economic level. The case of Amsterdam, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.
The Venice Syndrome: cities that become a stage or a film set for tourists, but where very few people actually live (because they have left the city or the region because life is becoming too difficult) (https://somosviajeros.com/blog/que-es-el-sindrome-de-venecia-y-ejemplos-de-lugares-que-lo-sufren.html https://notihoteles.com/venecia-convertido-en-parque-tematico-sus-habitantes-cansados-del-turismo-de-masas/)
Tourismphobia: An aversion to tourism and tourists by the local resident community in an area that occurs when the disadvantages of tourist activity outweigh the advantages of tourism. It is very well explained in this article: https://www.ostelea.com/actualidad/blog-turismo/tendencias-en-turismo/turismofobia-que-es-causas-y-ejemplos
Environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity: This occurs when, due to the intensive use of tourist activity in a territory, and its carrying capacity is far exceeded, the environmental balance is broken and the environment deteriorates, including the disappearance of animal and plant species. Example: Beach in Thailand: https://www.lavanguardia.com/ocio/viajes/20220110/7977957/maya-bay-playa-tailandia-leonardo-dicaprio-reabre-turismo.html
Concentration of tourism in certain geographical areas and during certain months of the year (seasonality).
Excessive construction: in Spain, with the development of mass tourism, a process known as "balearisation" took place in which there is an excessive consumption of land, normally in premium locations on the seafront or very close to tourist attractions. The result is that the vast majority of these premium areas are used for tourist establishments (accommodation, shows, restaurants, leisure) and there is no space left for the local population to enjoy the views, stroll around the area, etc.).
These negative impacts could endanger the very survival of the tourist destination, since on the one hand, the tourist resources that attracted the demand would be lost and on the other hand, the quality of the tourist experience would be affected, who would look for another destination for their next trips.
In addition to the above, experience has shown two things about tourism:
That on (too) many occasions it is a good generator, but a bad distributor of economic benefits. Think for example of the case of Cancun, Mexico, where the proliferation of "all-inclusive" establishments means that the income from tourism stays in the hands of a few, the owners of these hotels, while it brings very little business to the restaurants, leisure activities, shops, etc.) in the area where they are located.
That, despite the fact that tourist activity is growing and growing, businesses complain that the situation is bad and that they are not earning as much as they had hoped. This is due to the fact that the offer (hotels, transport companies, shops, restaurants, casinos, shows...) is growing at the same level as the tourist activity itself. In this way, although the pie is getting bigger and bigger, the pie has to be divided among more and more people, resulting in more pieces of the pie, but smaller and smaller.
PERSONAL THESIS ON THE CURRENT SITUATION OF TOURISM
At this point I would like to insist on what I said at the beginning of this text. The benefits of tourism are many and very important. The points we have just seen in the previous section are real dangers, which must be taken into account when managing the development of tourism in communities, regions and countries.
This development of tourism activity has obviously not occurred to the same extent or at the same speed in all countries and regions of the world. On the contrary, different levels of development coexist in the world at the same time.
Moreover, it could even be counterproductive to skip stages of this development that have been undergone by what are now called mature destinations. It is good to evolve towards different stages of development, both from the point of view of supply and demand.
Recently, in a conversation with an executive from a technology company in the field of tourism, this very subject came up and gave me food for thought. This person, a native of an Eastern European country, but living and working in Germany, argued that his country of origin wanted to enjoy the model of tourism that the developed countries of Central and Northern Europe enjoyed 40 years ago.
He argued that his country had reached a level of economic development that allowed them to do so, a socio-economic level that they lacked in those years of the 1970s, and that they had every right to enjoy it now, because it was an appropriate model for their current situation, just as it was at the time for more developed countries.
Further information on the need for a sustainable approach to tourism development can be found in the following article, published a few years ago by the author: https://medcraveonline.com/AHOAJ/dianmond-model-a-theoretical-framework-for-the-sustainable-development-of-tourism.html.
We also said at the beginning that human beings have a tendency to stumble over the same stone and to repeat over and over again the mistakes that have been made.
The above has been presented in a condensed and summarised form so as not to bore the reader, and I will be happy to discuss, explore and develop them in the unbeatable framework of the Tourism and Society Think Tank.
The above leads to the outcome of this document, which is nothing more than my personal vision of what I humbly think should be taken into account in terms of tourism development in destinations from the post COVID 19 pandemic onwards.
Factors to consider
Based on what we see happening, it seems that tourism will continue to develop whatever happens on our planet (and many on both the supply and demand side will continue to act as if nothing has happened).
Motivations, fashions and preferences change, but tourism continues.
Tourists and destinations at different stages of development coexist over time.
A destination that has been successful for a long time can become unsuccessful and disappear, just as new destinations can appear.
A destination that does not plan properly can die of success.
The market of supply and demand always tends to find a balance.
Human development implies progress and every activity produces an ecological footprint, which ideally should be minimised.
TIPS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF TOURIST DESTINATIONS
Make an inventory of resources of all kinds that can be used as tourist attractions and then convert these resources into tourism products.
Base destination management on the three dimensions of sustainability.
Plan tourism development: zones, classification, typology.
Form a tourist destination management body.
Forming a tourism destination promotion body
Build the necessary infrastructure to accommodate tourism: airport, port, road transport, tourist information offices...
Encourage public-private participation in tourism management.
Take all parties into account: employers, workers, residents, etc.
Establish limits for tourist uses
Set aside areas of environmental interest
Take care not to exceed the carrying capacity of the destination.
Diversify economic activities (tourism should not be the only economic activity).
Involve other activities in tourism: use of local products in food and beverages, handicrafts, landscape, culture
Protect local culture and customs
Implement good training programmes for the tourism sector: languages, attitudes, skills. Continuous, specific and adapted training for workers.
Use technology for destination management
Do not lose sight of the mistakes made in other tourist destinations.
Editor of Spain Tourism Hub
President of Skal International Madrid
Member of the Panel of Tourism Experts of the UNWTO
Member of the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers
Professor of Higher Programmes in Tourism Management and International Hotel Management
and Head of Customer Experience Management at Paradores de Turismo.
The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.