Tourism has become the biggest employer and fastest growing industry in the world. Tourism brings many benefits to communities around the world. But tourism hotspots are feeling the strain as tourist numbers increase. Overtourism describes a situation in which a tourism destination exceeds its carrying capacity – in physical and/or psychological terms. It results in a deterioration of the tourism experience for either visitors or locals, or both. Locals resent being crowded out of restaurants and parks. They resent paying inflated prices. Most of all they resent tourists behaving badly.
A record 1.323bn overseas trips were made by travellers in 2017 – a rise of 7 per cent on the previous year. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts this will continue to grow at a pace of 4 to 5 per cent, annually, in the coming years, aided by such innovations as the rise of low-cost airlines; bigger cruise ships; internet sites, including online booking, local reviews, smartphone mapping, ride-hailing, home-sharing and social media and its emphasis on personal-brand building through photos.
It was reported in 1997 that in order to draw more visitors, some St. Croix (US Virgin Islands) interests wanted to open a casino, which would change the character of the quiet, bucolic island.
In Hawaii, Maui is a very popular vacation destination, but visitors there have to put up with mainland-like traffic jams.
In summer, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon can seem as crowded as New York's Fifth Avenue.
In cities at tourism’s bleeding edge, such as Venice, resentment has boiled over into anti-tourism protests.
In Barcelona the cause against foreign visitors has been embraced by left-wing nationalist activists. Their view is expressed in graffiti around Barcelona: “Refugees welcome; tourists go home.”