By Thierry Malleret, economist
Travel and tourism is growing at a faster rate than GDP and, over the next few years, the industry will expand dramatically with the arrival of international travelers from fast-growing economies (China, India, etc.). This, in turn, raises the issue of what will happen with those places already crumbling under the weight of mass tourism. In the most popular spots, a backlash is brewing against the crisis.
This is particularly true for Europe in places like Barcelona, Florence, Venice and the Isle of Skye (to name a few), but is now also happening in countries like Thailand. In all these places, it’s not unusual to see graffiti such as “Tourist Go Home!”
The two most immediate consequences are the following: (1) governments and local authorities will increasingly regulate what tourists and industry practitioners can do; and (2) the backlash against the companies that fuel mass tourism (Airbnb, cruise companies, etc.) will increase.
The winner from all this will be wellness tourism. Even though it might be perceived as fuelling social inequality, it is the only form of travel that can reconcile tourism with sustainability. And given the over-tourism crunch that needs to be an increasing focus.