What does the concept of over-tourism mean for remote natural areas?

Authors: Dimitri Ioannides*, Mid-Sweden University, Sandra Wall Reinius, Mid-Sweden University
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: Over-tourism, Public Right of Access, Nature-based areas, Nordic countries
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Many observers these days lament the problem of over-tourism in popular tourist destinations, especially urban areas. In this paper, we discuss the importance of context, perceptions and attitudes with regard to over tourism especially with regards to remote areas. In such spaces, solitude, peace and quiet are important motives for visits. Thus, even a small number of tourists can quickly lead to dissatisfaction among tourists themselves and to conflicts with other land users. This leads to the questions: how can overtourism be understood and conceptualised in such contexts; what determines overtourism in such places? The problem of high visitor numbers is, of course, not a new topic. It has been under investigation for decades in the protected area context. What makes contemporary overtourism particularly challenging is the uncontrolled tourist flows, especially outside traditional boundaries of monitored and managed areas, such as in suddenly emerging hotspots, or in countries with a “Public Right of Access”. This freedom to roam in the Nordic countries means that solutions aimed at curbing visits might prove to be a major challenge. We conclude that the concept of overtourism should not only be defined through sheer numbers and dissatisfied residents. Rather, we argue that over-tourism is geographically contingent. In addition, we call for a definition where visitors themselves – as well as community members – can define overtourism in remote natural areas.

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