In recent years, several major cities around the world have been crumbling under the weight of mass tourism.
In 2019, several cities were making headlines, and some destinations were closing down to curb the damages caused to the environment due to mass visits.
Meanwhile, a less known phenomenon has been coming up: under tourism.
It encourages travellers to choose less popular destinations as an alternative to over-touristed cities.
Is this an opportunistic marketing technique, or can under tourism be an option for responsible travellers?
Attracting visitors to less popular destinations
Nowadays, travel is year-round and international travel is no longer reserved for the wealthy elite.
Overtourism and effects of crowds on tourism capitals of the world have shown their limits.
Mythical cities such as Paris, Venice, Barcelona, Bruges, Dubrovnik, Kyoto… have decided to react to reduce the influx of tourists on their territory.
In 2019, Bruges decided to limit the number of cruise ships to two per day, Venice now charges an entry fee, while Paris is considering banning tourist buses from its city centre.
Meanwhile, under-tourism is gaining ground.
Tour operators and tourism boards are stepping up their efforts to promote the natural and cultural attractions of less popular or little-known tourist destinations.
Messages are directed to travellers as a solution to avoid crowds.
Travellers, get off the beaten track! Discover the heavenly landscapes of the Marshall Islands, Bolivia, Moldova, Bali, or New Caledonia! Opt for Lido Island rather than Venice, Calakmul in Mexico rather than Machu Picchu!
Actually, using under-tourism to market a travel destination is not a new phenomenon.
In 2017 already, Oslo was surfing on the vibe to attract visitors exhausted by the crowded streets of Paris.
Choosing under tourism, what are the benefits?
Travelling off the beaten track is something world traveller dreams of.
Choosing less-visited destinations for your next holidays can actually have a lot of advantages.
- You’ll avoid the inevitable queues to admire the most beautiful sites ;
- You will be able to visit historical sites at your own pace, without having to sneak among the many selfies lovers;
- You’ll appreciate the beauty of the less crowded beaches;
- You could benefit from more affordable rates, especially on packages;
- Your stay will participate in the improvement of the lifestyle, comfort and well-being of the communities of the host countries;
- You may be better received as a visitor, rather than being subjected to the counter-effects of tourism phobia* happening in many mass-tourism destinations.
*phenomenon of rejection towards tourists in some countries.
Under-tourism and sustainable travel
For several years now, negative impacts have resulted from the actions of mass tourism; nature and the daily lives of the inhabitants of over-frequented countries have been affected.
Water is often wasted (to the detriment of the local population), waste is produced in excessive quantities, means of transport increase the level of CO2 in the air and greenhouse gases, to mention only a few.
As such under-tourism seems an ideal opportunity to promote sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism is about travelling differently, with greater respect for the environment and the lifestyle and values of the host populations.
In other words, tourism with a positive impact on the environment, cultural heritage and local populations.
Sustainable travel is not limited to woofing, volunteering or ecotourism and can be practised both in urban and nature destinations.
Will under-tourism become the mass tourism of tomorrow?
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), travellers (and tour operators) must aim for the goal of responsible tourism, i.e. tourism that focuses on the economic, social and environmental consequences in the short and long term.
Destinations that ride the wave of under-tourism, to attract new visitors, may become the cities drowned by tourism tomorrow if they are not prepared for it.
They must, therefore, be ready to welcome visitors from the start, and integrate sustainable development into their tourism management from the very beginning.
Whatever the destination you wish to visit, adopting responsible and mindful travel gestures on holiday is not very complicated.
And if you’re still trying to figure out why : Rediscover our ten easy tips to be a sustainable traveller.