Overtourism bothers me -- a lot. As a travel writer and now part-time river-cruise leader, I feel more than a twinge of guilt looking at those images of cities, like Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona, from around Europe and the rest of the world that are over-run with visitors. I remember a moment of my own last summer (as part of a river cruise) leading a walking tour through Vienna and being crushed in a stream of several hundred people all moving toward the same small bus stop. It was a little scary. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m certainly not opposed to travel. It’s both fun and fundamental to greater goods like universal understanding (and there are many beautiful places on earth where overtourism is not – or not yet – an issue). But something’s got to give.
I’ve seen many articles on overtourism (mainly on how bad it is), but none that adequately address what I consider to be the harder truths about modern tourism. As a travel writer and someone who’s lived more than two decades in a city (Prague) that’s dominated for several months out of the year by visitors, I’ve come to believe that only once we fully grasp and accept the realities of contemporary travel -- both good and bad -- can we mold a more responsible tourism future. Consider this a first try in that direction.