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Center for Responsible Travel Examines Overtourism in New Report


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) released The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2018, which includes an in-depth look at the complex issue of overtourism and the role of responsible travel in developing solutions.

The new CREST report considers overtourism trends in five distinct types of destinations and concludes that the principles of responsible travel and visitor education provide a vital framework for effectively addressing the issue. It also highlights growing consumer demand for authentic and meaningful travel experiences and analyzes the role of tourism businesses in mainstreaming responsible travel.

Trends & Statistics 2018 updates CREST’s previous industry studies, released every year since 2013. The 2018 report’s special analysis of overtourism shows just how pressing this issue has become in a booming global travel market, where international tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7 percent in 2017 to reach a total of 1.326 billion. In the report, CREST defines overtourism as “tourism that has moved beyond the limits of acceptable change in a destination due to quantity of visitors, resulting in degradation of the environment and infrastructure, diminished travel experience, wear and tear on built heritage, and/or negative impacts on residents.”

No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

“Overtourism is one of the most critical issues facing the tourism industry today,” said Martha Honey, CREST’s Executive Director. “It is a multifaceted problem affecting various types of destinations, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But there is much that can be learned from destinations grappling with this issue, from Amsterdam to Machu Picchu to Beijing’s Forbidden City. Trends & Statistics 2018 shows how destinations can support responsible travel through their efforts to cope with overtourism.”

Trends & Statistics 2018 finds that consumer demand for responsible tourism is growing as travelers become increasingly aware of the impact of their decisions on local communities and the environment. But consumers’ interest in traveling responsibly must be paired with increased participation from the travel industry. CREST’s report highlights initiatives being implemented by responsibly-minded travel businesses in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare, children’s rights, international peace and understanding, energy efficiency, travelers’ philanthropy, and food waste reduction.

Through its illustrative case studies, Trends & Statistics 2018 provides the travel industry with a wealth of examples and best practices for mainstreaming responsible travel and addressing overtourism. The 2018 report was prepared in collaboration with 30 leading organizations and institutions involved in sustainable tourism, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the Rainforest Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).