Back to Global Conversations 2.15: The Potential Perils of Undertourism
There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the travel industry forever. Join Melissa Biggs Bradley as she talks with top experts and thought leaders in travel conservation and sustainability about Covid’s tumultuous impact and how it’s reshaping the new travel landscape, the destinations we love and how we experience them.
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, one of the hottest topics of conversation in the travel industry was over-tourism. In 2019, 1.4 billion tourists traveled internationally more than ever before. The Center for Responsible Travel, a nonprofit on whose board Melissa serves, defines over-tourism as tourism that has moved beyond the limits of acceptable change in a destination due to the number of visitors resulting in degradation of the environment and infrastructure, diminished travel experience, wear and tear on built heritage and negative impact on residents.
Well, in 2020, the pendulum swung from over-tourism to under-tourism, with a staggering 70% drop in international tourist arrivals and a decimation of many economies based on tourism revenue. It is estimated that a whopping 10% of the global population works in hospitality or travel-related industries and many destinations that rely on tourists have been devastated.
So as travel begins to resume in many countries, we think it’s crucial that we find a balance that allows us to support the benefits of tourism and its power to provide opportunities to vulnerable communities and to preserve wildlife and wild places, but also to mitigate its damage, to culture and to our environment.