Why and how some European hotspots are trying to keep tourists away

Check out what steps cities like Amsterdam and Venice are taking
this year to control overtourism and foster sustainable
hospitality. But challenges abound, say industry insiders.

Cities all throughout Europe are taking measures to keep
tourists away.

This, of course, seems counterintuitive to most logic
surrounding hospitality and economic development, but for many
world-famous European destinations, over-tourism is a serious
problem.

Such cities are now taking measures to move toward more
sustainable hospitality status quos. These measures have manifested
as a day-tripper tax in Venice, levies on cruise passengers in
Amsterdam, and a hike in total tax in Ireland, as well as in a ban
on motorcoaches in Rome.

Essentially, 2019 is a year in which new taxes and restrictions
are being created to stem overcrowding, infrastructure challenges
and other overtourism issues.

Addressing Overtourism

While most in the industry agree it’s a vexing issue that
needs to be addressed, there are concerns about the way some of the
new taxes and rules are being implemented, as well as about the
long-term impact they could have on tourism. Some express doubts
about whether the increased fees and taxes will indeed be used to
address the infrastructure issues created by crowds or are just a
way for governments to pad their coffers.

“From what I am hearing, it is the tip of the iceberg,”
United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) President and CEO
said of the recent move by Ireland to increase its value-added tax
(VAT) on hotels from 9% to 13.5%.

“Because so many countries are looking for a new revenue
stream, it’s easy to look at the VAT and say, ‘This is an easy
way to raise money,’” he added.

, Secretary General of the European Tourism Association, said
the issue is not so much that governments are looking to raise
taxes and fees or to impose new rules, as about how some of the new
measures are being implemented without input from stakeholders and
without enough notice for travel companies to build new fees into
their pricing.

“I think the genie is out of the bottle,” Fairhurst said.
“People are not going to stop taxing visitors. I think the
question has got to be: Why? And, what are you doing with the
money?”

How Overtourism is Manifesting

, Senior Vice President at Tauck Land Journeys, said the “tour
operator industry recognizes the need for smart, innovative
management policies” and wants to be good partners.

“That said, and with an eye toward being true partners, we’d
like to be brought into the planning and decision-making process
earlier on, so we can work cooperatively on fair and workable
solutions.”

Fairhurst voiced concern that measures such as those in Italy
have not been thought through and will increase tension between
tourists and residents. In Rome, for example, there have already
been protests, with coach operators blocking entrances to the city
center.

“The Rome coach situation is comically dysfunctional,”
Fairhurst said, noting that the city doesn’t have enough
minibuses to provide the shuttle service that was supposed to get
visitors into the heart of city. Are people going to have to get
off the coach and wheel their bag a half-mile to their hotels? Rome
is likely to become the site of very chaotic scenes.”

So, while it seems like addressing over tourism has become a
norm, it remains to be seen if most cities are yet to find the best
way forward.

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Why and how some European hotspots are trying to keep tourists
away
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Why and how some European hotspots are trying to keep tourists away