Tourism flows must be ‘managed’ and ‘the benefits shared’

The return of concerns about overtourism in some of the most-popular destinations, with protests recently in Palma, Mallorca, and Tenerife, demonstrates the need to manage tourism flows.

That is according to Sandra Carvao, UN Tourism director for market intelligence, policies and competitiveness, who told the recent Resilience and Innovation Summit in Sarajevo: “Tourism is challenged if tourism flows are not managed.”

Carvao argued: “We need to share the benefits from tourism, making sure the revenues are used in a proper way, recognising we are part of a bigger chain.”

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That requires “cross-government involvement and regulation”, she said, arguing that in smaller, popular destinations, “there has to be territorial management and dispersal”.

She noted: “There is no one solution. There may be places you need to regulate so you don’t have group tours. You might have to close an area to visitation.”

Carvao also suggested work to “create demand at different times”. But she insisted: “It’s important that you have governance. You need an entity to manage the system.”

She warned against over-reliance on tourism, telling the summit: “You don’t want any economy to be 100% dependent on one industry, and tourism is no exception.”

Nina Kovac, tourism product development team leader for US international development agency USAID in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “We recognise some tourism hubs have more tourists than they can handle at peak times.

“We have a ‘hub and spoke’ model and work to communicate to travellers so they understand they can do different activities [at these times] and help alleviate the pressure.”

Kovac suggested: “The industry itself sees the need to be more respectful of nature and sees demand from travellers wanting more sustainability [and] activities that don’t cause problems in destinations.”

Saso Krumpak, founder of destination reservations system Halki in Slovenia, argued destinations need access to booking data.

He said: “We have a feeling that many destinations are overcrowded, but destinations are pretty blind at the moment [on tourism flows] because online travel agencies are not sharing their [booking] data.”

He insisted “It’s important [for destinations] to understand the booking process. We need data in the hands of decision makers.”

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