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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds My name is Pia Abboud, I’m from Lebanon and basically I specialised in cultural heritage management. I opened my company two years and a half ago, which is Discovery Beyond Borders. It’s a tour operator company specialised in responsible and experiential tourism. I don’t think overtourism has to be fought, like directly, it can be diverted, we can reduce it maybe in a way, by first maybe reducing the number of visits to a site or certain area.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds As a tour operator the idea for myself is to decentralise the visitor destinations, give people other choices, better choices maybe, or create something new, a new experience because nowadays people are searching for more than a specific destination to visit and just take a photo and leave. My focus is responsible tourism and how do I create responsible tourism? I’m very transparent to the people, I first create a new network and it’s more difficult than the average tourism company, which has the standards already there, so the idea is networking, basically finding the right people who I can work with in the rural areas, who without them I can’t even work you know and it’s a mutual win-win situation in the end.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds This is how we will attract the visitors, which is the idea of exclusivity and experience making, just visiting a monument is not enough, although it’s part of my tours, but it’s not what I usually highlight anymore. Most of them are experienced travellers and they’ve been elsewhere, they know what tourism is and they don’t want to be a tourist, maybe they want to be a traveller, they want to be a visitor. Our experiences you cannot find at a regular touristic company, which can be bigger or more developed, but maybe they don’t have the time to cater and customise something exclusive for a certain client.

Skip to 2 minutes and 22 seconds Which leads us to the point where we want to reduce the amount of people that visit a place at a time, so I’m trying to develop the idea of private tours, rather than public tours, or tours of more than 20 people. Exclusivity is important because the tours I organise are not tours I copy from any other companies. It’s about the people who you go to, where you can have a harvesting day, or a cooking lessons, or a pottery workshop one-on-one with the lady that does it, in her village. Because we prefer to have tourists coming in everyday, rather than having 50 people coming at once.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds A woman at her home, she doesn’t have more than 20 plates to serve lunch for example. They’re not like ready for this amount of tourists and at once, so it’s something we have to tackle it in a very sensible way. The main purpose is to serve the local community.

Fighting back the 'devil' of tourism

Watch Pia Aboud, managing director of Discovery Beyond Borders, discuss how she counters overtourism.

Having watched the video, we’ll consider some further examples of solutions implemented at local and even national levels to address overtourism.

In Amsterdam, the government has banned the opening of new hotels within the canal belt, which is where most tourists are concentrated, imposed some restrictions on Airbnb’s rental of real estate, and imposed a new tax on property.

The city authorities of Barcelona have tightened holiday rental controls by registering hosts with the city before the lease is released. Airbnb pays daily fines if it advertises apartments not licensed by the city.

Botswana, known worldwide for its safaris, has introduced a $30 tourism tax for all visitors, with the aim of raising money to conserve its nature parks.

Your task

Thinking back to the Faro case study in Week 1, in which a single road bridge was built to limit the number of visitors, discuss the pros and cons of its solution, bringing together all the concepts that have been covered, such as authenticity, quality and local communities.

Further reading

Gallagher, K. (2018, December 11). These destinations are fighting back against over-tourism. Far & Wide. https://www.farandwide.com/s/over-tourism-destinations-ceee189cc0414a7b

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This video is from the free online course:

Overtourism

Coventry University