ASATA column: ‘Over-tourism’ is a problem

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Although it’s not a new phenomenon, over-tourism has received a lot of attention this year, with popular destinations and cities across the world flagging genuine and potentially damaging problems.

Venice is a prime example, with some worrying the destination is sinking under the weight of its popularity. According to a report by the UK Telegraph, on Easter Sunday this year, the Italian city received 125,000 visitors. That’s the same total number of tourists that visit entire countries, such as Bangladesh, in a whole year.

Destinations are taking drastic measures to re-distribute visitor footfalls and limit traffic to popular sites. In Europe, Dubrovnik (Croatia) has started turning tourists and cruise ships away, Amsterdam is banning shops aimed at tourists, while Venice mulls over a ban stopping people from carrying alcohol in the streets.

Although it may seem the problem of over-tourism fits firmly in the leisure space, corporate travellers can help to mitigate the problem by taking small steps towards a more sustainable travel experience.

Align yourself with ASATA travel brands that strive to maintain a high level of social responsibility. Speak to your travel expert on their recommendations for eco-friendly accommodation, sustainable travel activities and destinations where you can contribute to conserving the environment.

Many destinations have trouble managing the waste that travellers leave behind, so make sure to recycle. If you are recycling at home, why not keep it up while you’re away on a business trip? Pack a reusable water bottle, avoid taking long showers and re-use your hotel towels.

Being mindful of cultural sensitivities also goes a long way. Corporate travellers are probably sensitive to different cultures in their office, but would they spend time reading up on the culture of the locals in your holiday destination? Talk to colleagues from the destination and ask about local eateries, shops and public transport options.

To quote former United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Taleb Rifai: “Growth is not the enemy (and) growing numbers are not the enemy – growth is the eternal story of mankind.”

So, by all means, keep travelling; but remember to travel sustainably, even when you’re away for business.