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‘Untourist’ movement shuns global, mass tourism over local, unique and sustainable ventures

July 29th, 2019 | | industry

Tourism operators are being told to focus on relationships rather than destinations, or risk repeating the mass-tourism mistakes of Barcelona and Venice.

Key points:

  • Tourist operators are finding travellers want to have a positive impact upon communities and the environment
  • Denmark now shuns the term ‘tourist’ in favour of short or long-term resident
  • People-to-people connections have been found to lead to repeat visitation

Stewart Moore, the CEO of Earthcheck, said the backlash against mass tourism globally showed the industry had been more concerned with marketing than destination management.

“We need to be very mindful of what we wish for in terms of growth,” Mr Moore said.

Europeans fight tourist ‘plague’

Europeans fight tourist 'plague'

One group of locals attacked a tourist bus and threatened more acts of intimidation.

Denmark has taken a distinctive approach to over-tourism with its ‘End of tourism as we know it’ strategy.

The country has dropped the term ‘tourist’ in favour of short or long-term resident and published an Untourist Guide.

“Scandinavia is probably 20 years ahead of Australia in terms of the carbon economy,” Mr Moore said.”They are also asking the question: ‘If I am travelling, what are you doing at your end to make sure that it’s sustainable?’ And ‘I’m doing the right thing for the community, I’m visiting’.”

Mr Moore said Australia was doing a lot but it was fragmented and that communities needed to work together more cohesively.

Urban Adventures local tour guide showing tourists the bicycle tracks and norrebro blossoms of Denmark.

PHOTO: Local Denmark tour guides show lesser-known areas and build authentic connections. (Supplied: Intrepid Travel/Urban Adventures)

“You’ve already got destinations like Noosa that have always been very good at putting a cap on how much tourism they’ve got, he said.

“They’re also doing very good things with waste.”

The CEO of Intrepid Travel, James Thornton, said the experience travellers wanted was around local interaction.

“Travellers want unique experiences and to have a positive impact upon the communities, and the environments, they visit,” he said.

Tourism academic Freya Higgins-Desbiolles and her team propose tourism be redefined to focus more on the community, rather than the tourist.

“Local communities inviting, receiving, and hosting visitors into their community, for limited durations, and with the intention of receiving benefits from these actions,” Dr Higgins-Desbiolles said of the strategy.

Five indigenous men with face paint and didgeridoo sitting on a beach in front of a bonfire

PHOTO: Lirrwi Tours in Arnhem Land shares Aboriginal culture, a contemporary type of tourism. (Flickr: Roderick Eime)

“Tourism shouldn’t be a one-way ‘taking’, whereby the only measure of exchange is of a monetary value, because it’s not. There is a social and cultural aspect to it also.

“An important key to sustainability that many destination management organisations are realising is that people-to-people connections lead to repeat visitation, which is a pathway to sustainability.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow