When you are lying on the beach like sardines in a can or standing in a queue in front of the ice cream parlor for half an hour, when crowds are blocking the view of local sights, that is inconvenient. However, overtourism has even more worrying consequences: nature cannot recover and wild animals and plants lose their habitats. The infrastructures of popular cities are at their limits, as visitors crowd the streets, and the rents of residents increase immeasurably, because more and more housing space is used for holiday accommodations. Overtourism is a phenomenon that is certainly not relaxing. Just as these crowds of tourists strain your nerves, they strain the much desired travel destinations, the nature as well as the people.
A challenge for a World Heritage Site
Crowds of tourists also mean great amounts of waste. In 2016, the UNESCO considered to include the Inka mountain citadel Machu Picchu into the List of World Heritage in Danger. The reason: a waste management crisis. Around 2,000 tourists daily leave vast quantities of waste at Machu Picchu and its transport posed a huge logistical problem. Due to a waste compacting machine at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel the crisis could finally be averted. The machine is able to process up to 14 tons of waste that is transported by train to recycling plants. For this initiative, Inkaterra received the German travel award “Die Goldene Palme”.
Do it differently – with an increased awareness
Not leaving any waste behind would be even better. For example, using your own refillable bottle can help reducing the vast amounts of PET bottles. In general, you should ask yourself on every trip: how does my behavior affect this place? And how can I make sure that the impact is not a negative one? A great way to counteract overtourism is discovering new places. For example, the Cloud Forest surrounding Machu Picchu is at least as spectacular as the mountain citadel itself, but certainly not as crowded. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel offers guided tours, where you have the opportunity to enjoy the peace of this natural wonder and learn a lot about the flora and fauna of this area steeped in history and the sustainability projects by Inkaterra Asociación (ITA).
Community based tourism in Thailand
Thailand is one of the destinations that is still associated with images of beautiful nature overrun by tourists. However, numerous sustainable projects demonstrate that there is also another way of traveling. One of them is the village Tung Dap in Thailand. It has recently been recognized by Green Destinations as one of the top three in the “Best of Cities, Communities & Culture” category for its commitment to the protection of the local culture and tradition, the involvement of the local community into tourism and its efforts against exploitation, human rights violation and mass tourism.
Real life instead of a show for tourists
Tung Dap is a rural homestay initiative, where visitors are welcomed into the village during the time of their stay, learn more about the country and its people and get involved into the community’s daily life. Examples for these unique local experiences are cultural activities that allow being close to nature like fishing and vegetable growing. The award-winning community based tourism initiative Andaman Discoveries organizes recommendable tours to Tung Dap. In our blog post Green Vacation in Chiang Mai – live like the locals! you can read more about community based tourism in Northern Thailand.
The future of traveling
Above all, community based tourism means that instead of a staged show for tourists, you experience authentic local everyday life. At the same time, community based tourism provides a source of income for the locals, thus improving their quality of life. We think: This should be the future of traveling.