Anti-Tourism Marches Spread Across Europe

First Venice and Barcelona: Now Anti-Tourism Marches Spread Across Europe

by Will Coldwell | August 10, 2017

With the continent sweltering under a heatwave nicknamed Lucifer, tempers have been boiling over, too, as a wave of anti-tourism protests take place in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. Yet, as “tourism-phobia” becomes a feature of the summer, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has defended the sector, calling on local authorities to do more to manage growth in a sustainable manner.

The focal point for much of this has been Spain, which had a record 75.6 million tourists last year, including 17.8 million from the UK. In Barcelona, where tensions have been rising for years over the unchecked surge in visitors and impact of sites such as Airbnb on the local housing market, Arran, the youth wing of the radical CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), have been filmed slashing the tyres of rental bicycles and a tour bus. An Arran spokesperson told the BBC: “Today’s model of tourism expels people from their neighbourhoods and harms the environment.” Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy described the group as “extremists”.

There have also been protests in Mallorca and San Sebastián, where an anti-tourism march is planned for 17 August, to coincide with Semana Grande – a major festival of Basque culture.

Other demonstrations have taken place across southern Europe. Last month in Venice – which sees more than 20 million visitors a year and has just 55,000 residents – 2,000 locals marched through the city, voicing anger at rising rents and the impact of huge cruise ships and the pollution they cause to the city’s delicate environment.

Speaking to the Guardian, UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said the rise in anti-tourist sentiment is “a very serious situation that needs to be addressed in a serious way”. If managed correctly, he added, tourism can be the “best ally” to conservation, preservation and the community.

“It should not be given up for the sake of mismanagement,” he said. “Ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike demands strong, sustainable tourism policies, practices and the engagement of national as well as local governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves.” …

Read the rest of this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/aug/10/anti-tourism-marches-spread-across-europe-venice-barcelona

See also:
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/barcelona-palma-tourism-terrorism-campaign-airbnb-a7886866.html

Heritage Crime: Tourists Arrested For Making Hitler Salutes Outside Reichstag

The Reichstag building houses German parliament.

Chinese Tourists Arrested for Making Hitler Salutes Outside Reichstag

Reuters in Berlin | August 5, 2017

German police have arrested two Chinese tourists for making illegal Hitler salutes in front of the Reichstag building that houses the German parliament.

Berlin police officers say they detained two men, aged 36 and 49, after they were seen striking the Nazi-era pose and photographing each other with their mobile phones.

They face charges for “using symbols of illegal organisations”, the police said in a statement, and were released after posting bail of €500 (£450) each.

Germany has strict laws on hate speech and symbols linked to Hitler and the Nazis, who ruled between 1933 and 1945.

The Reichstag is a powerful symbol in Germany. It was destroyed by fire in 1933 by an arsonist thought to have been paid by the Nazis, who then blamed the blaze on the Communists and used it as an excuse to severely restrict civil liberties.

Read the rest of this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/05/chinese-tourists-arrested-for-making-hitler-salutes-outside-reichstag

See also:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/24/russians-storm-replica-reichstag-military-disneyland-patriot-park

“Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods”

“El Turisme Mata Els Barris”: Catalan for “Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods.”

‘Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods’: How Do We Save Cities From The City Break?

By Elle Hunt | August 4, 2017

Not all tourists count getting drunk before noon and desecrating a local monument or two as top priority for a break away, but those that do have come to represent the masses in the cities where they let loose.

Across Europe, where increasing numbers of visitors can overwhelm residents in the summer months, the backlash has started. “War” – and a new awareness campaign – has been declared in Venice. Fines for eating, drinking or sitting on historic fountains have been increased in Rome. Basilica steps where tourists congregate are being hosed down daily in Florence.

And last week, in Barcelona, vigilantes slashed the tyres of an open-top bus and spray-painted across its windscreen “El Turisme Mata Els Barris”: Catalan for “Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods.”

The message is clear: these cities are buckling under pressure. What to do about it is less obvious. In tourists and residents’ battle for supremacy of shared spaces, local authorities are uncomfortably in the middle. The tourism and travel sector is one of the largest employers in the world, with one new job created for every 30 new visitors to a destination – but at what cost to locals’ quality of life?

Xavier Font, a professor of sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey, says cities tend to ask that question when it is already too late. “You cannot wait until tourists arrive to give them a code of conduct.”

It won’t work, anyway. Attempts to influence individuals’ behaviour are futile, even counterproductive, says Font. “That attitude of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ doesn’t just apply to Vegas anymore. When we go on holiday, we’re selfish.”

As a consultant for national tourism boards, industry associations and businesses, Font asks not how do we change tourists’ behaviour, but how do we change tourism so as to manage its impact. If it is to be made better, more sustainable, less of a burden on cities and the people who live in them year-round, the work should have begun well before visitors have bought their tickets.

The World Economic Forum recorded 1.2 billion international arrivals last year – 46 million more than in 2015, and increases are predicted for the coming decade, prompting the UN to designate 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. More people are travelling than ever before, and lower barriers to entry and falling costs means they are doing so for shorter periods.

The rise of “city breaks” – 48-hour bursts of foreign cultures, easier on the pocket and annual leave balance – has increased tourist numbers, but not their geographic spread. The same attractions have been used to market cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Venice for decades, and visitors use the same infrastructure as residents to reach them. “Too many people do the same thing at the exact same time,” says Font. “For locals, the city no longer belongs to them.”

Compounding the problem is Airbnb, which, like credit cards and mobile roaming, has made tourists more casual in their approach to international travel, but added to residents’ headaches. Landlords stand to earn more from renting their properties to tourists than they do to permanent tenants. Those who share their apartment blocks with Airbnb hosts have been incredulous, says Font: “‘No longer do we have to share the streets with tourists, we have to share our own buildings?’ We get residents saying, ‘I don’t want my neighbourhood to become like the city centre.’” …

Read the rest of this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/aug/04/tourism-kills-neighbourhoods-save-city-break

See also:
Venice, Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming ‘Disneyland on the Sea’
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/world/europe/venice-italy-tourist-invasion.html

Tourism “Overwhelming” US National Parks

A crowd waits to ascend the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Brian Hughes/SummitPost

How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks

The growing crowds at U.S. National Parks have become unmanageable, jeopardizing the natural experience the parks were created to provide. With attendance this summer continuing to shatter records, officials are considering limiting use of the parks in order to save them.

By Jim Robbins | July 31, 2017

Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is the poster child for the crowding of America’s most hallowed natural places. With its soaring and magisterial red, dun, and white rock cliffs with grand names such as the Court of the Patriarchs and the Temple of Sinawava, Zion is at the top of the list of the nation’s most dramatic scenery.

It is also small as parks go, just under 150,000 acres and has only one main road, six miles long. Yet Zion gets as many visitors as Yellowstone, more than 4.3 million a year, even though Yellowstone is nearly fifteen times larger.

“In the last few years, this huge uptick in visitation has overwhelmed our infrastructure facilities, our trails, our backcountry, it goes on and on and on,” said John Marciano, a spokesman for Zion. “We can’t sit on our hands anymore. We have to come up with some kind of management plan to be able to preserve resources and to make sure our visitors have a good and safe experience.”

Saving a landscape as a national park is only part of the preservation battle – saving the spirit of these places is also essential. National parks are often thought of as America’s natural cathedrals – serene, contemplative places to visit and be restored by a connection to wild nature and grandeur.

That is impossible in the front country of Zion – and many other national parks – these days. Veteran park administrators are aghast at the “greenlock ” – gridlock in natural surroundings – in marquee national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and a host of other crown jewels.

Yellowstone, for example, has gone from 2 million visitors in 1980 to more than 4 million last year and is likely to climb higher. There were 2.3 million visitors to the Grand Canyon in 1980. In 2015, attendance broke the 5 million mark. A year later, it broke the 6 million barrier. Glacier, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Rocky Mountain are all smashing records and are overwhelmed with humanity, losing the very thing they were created to provide – a sense of peak naturalness. Managers are concerned that this is the new normal and may get worse.

“Visitors are losing in this mix of 5 and 6 million people trying to cram into places that are busy when it’s 2 or 3 million,” said Joan Anzelmo, a retired Park Service superintendent who lives near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and is active as a volunteer in efforts to mitigate the impacts of visitation outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone. “These are irreplaceable resources. We have to protect them by putting some strategic limits on numbers, or there won’t be anything left. Nobody will want to visit them. Everyone I know who lives, works, and is involved in these issues says something has to be done, it can’t go on like this anymore.”

If these were not national parks, the solution would be to keep building more infrastructure. But the National Park Service has a dual mandate from Congress: to “provide for the enjoyment in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Wider roads and more hotels and campgrounds would only create sprawl, diminish the experience of nature, and encourage yet more people to come.

This crowding comes at an uncertain time for the parks. President Trump has proposed cutting the Park Service budget by 13 percent (which would be the largest cut to the agency since World War II), and there is already a backlog of staffing and maintenance issues.  And there is concern that the Trump Administration might move to make the parks even more friendly to commercial interests that would look bring in more visitors and more development.

The visitor crush is creating two main problems – a steep decline in the quality of visitor experience that a national park is supposed to provide, and damaging impacts on the ecology of these intact natural places. …

Read the rest of this article:
http://e360.yale.edu/features/greenlock-a-visitor-crush-is-overwhelming-americas-national-parks