Booming tourism takes its toll on Europe's tourist magnets

Europe's most popular holiday destinations are increasingly plagued by hypertourism: between January and April 2024 the number of international flights to Greece increased by 12.3 percent, while the Balearic Islands saw a 9.1 percent increase in tourists in 2023 compared to the previous year. Mass protests have been staged in Tenerife and Mallorca this year over high rents, and Venice is now charging an entry fee. What can be done?

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The Guardian (GB) /

Balance diverging interests

Housing must be made affordable once more for those who live in popular holiday destinations, The Guardian insists:

“In urban centres and resorts where foreign investment in property and short-term letting has priced locals out, a housing strategy is required that balances the benefits of tourism with community priorities and needs. In Mallorca, the average monthly rent for an apartment has risen far beyond the means of many who work in the island's tourist industry. The gradual emergence of an overpopulated two-tier summer economy, in which some locals feel driven to the side of their own everyday lives, is a depressing development in one of the most beautiful corners of Europe.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Flights need to be more expensive

Low air fares are accentuating the problem, says the Irish Independent:

“Ireland is an island nation, and holidaymakers from here must either fly or go by ferry (a costlier option) if we want to leave. ... People are encouraged to book flights almost on a whim because of the low cost - but that attractive price is subsidised. Why is air travel given this lucrative tax treatment? ... Overtourism delivers an unpleasant experience for travellers, too. Queues can be long, streets congested and attractions too crowded. Nor is it all down to airlines. ... But the role of the airlines can't be ignored. A cheap plane ticket isn't much of a bargain when you consider the pollution costs incurred.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Athens no longer belongs to its residents

Kathimerini worries about the situation in Athens and on the Greek islands:

“The sidewalks are occupied by tables and chairs. The restaurants are unbearably expensive, and at the open-air cinemas, you have to book a seat. ... Airbnbs are gentrifying entire neighbuorhoods, driving out regular tenants. ... Athens belongs more and more to visitors rather than its residents. On the beaches along the southern coast on weekends, shade costs as much as champagne: 30-90 euros [per day] for an umbrella. Swimming in the sea, even in May, is therefore a luxury for Athenians. The same goes for a short trip to the Cyclades. Even on a not particularly sought-after island it's hard to find a double room for less than 120 euros per day.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Olympics just aggravating the problems

The consequences of overtourism are particularly evident in Paris, architects Dominique Dupré-Henry and Tangui Le Dantec criticise in Le Figaro:

“Paris has always been popular with tourists, but it is in danger of losing what made it such an exceptional city by allowing itself to be overly commercialised, refusing to regulate the excesses of overtourism, cutting maintenance funding and ignoring local democracy. The decision to hold the Olympic Games tournaments at some of Paris's most beautiful historic sites, even if it means sacrificing them and congesting the entire city, exposes the decline of the capital and its living conditions to the rest of the world.”