Overtourism: is it over for the growth of tourism?

Tuesday 23 October, 18:0020:00, Lecture Centre, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, MaltaBattle of Ideas Europe

This event is free to attend.  Tickets can be reserved in advance on Eventbrite 

In recent years, there have been unprecedented criticisms made of tourism and tourists. In particular, it has been claimed that iconic cultural cities such as Venice, Barcelona and Amsterdam are suffering from ‘overtourism’. This blanket term has been applied not only to the excesses of youth on holiday, but to the reshaping of cities to cater for tourists, too. Journalists have written of ‘limits to tolerance’ of tourism, and protesters have accused AirBnB of pushing up rents and crowding out local culture.

Of course, some of the world’s most beautiful destinations will see tourists flocking to appreciate their wares, weather and wondrous treasures. Additionally cities are queuing up to be awarded accolades to help boost their tourism appeal. For example, Malta’s capital Valletta is the 2018 European Capital of Culture and presents itself as a wonderful and iconic Mediterranean city – unique, fascinating and beautiful. Little wonder that so many want to visit.

But is there a cost? Malta’s 470,000 residents will host approaching four times that number in tourists over 2018. Tourism might mean revenue and appreciation, but it can also mean overcrowding and inconvenience for those who permanently live in these desirable locations. Arguably, the tourism industry threatens the thing its customers prize. Recently, some have argued that tourism can all too often ride roughshod over the ways of life of others. Perhaps travel has finally surpassed cultural and environmental limits, and tourists should rein in their desire to travel for leisure.

Can cultures and economies adapt to meet the growing aspiration to see the world, be it for cultural enlightenment or just for fun? And what are the implications for the likes of the Maltese Islands and their capital city if the world descends on this Mediterranean jewel for their leisure?

This Battle of Ideas satellite event is supported by the Institute for Tourism, Travel and Culture, University of Malta