A “new tourism”: how Covid-19 brings attention back to change

It has been a while since they started talking about “Overtourism, but few had stopped to reflect on this new concept. A neologism created to describe the overcrowding caused by mass tourism and which today, using a lexicon from “Covid-19” we would call “mass gathering”. More precisely, a gathering of tourists in some places, at the expense of others. 

When the number of tourists is greater than the capacity of people that a place can support, we talk about “overtourism”. A type of tourism which, after the experience of Covid-19, will no longer be conceivable and which should also be avoided when Covid-19 will be hopefully discussed using the past tense.

The most frequent question these days is the following one:

How will we travel after Covid-19?

One thing is certain: “overtourism” will certainly have to be managed. This type of tourism that is not sustainable for the environment, for the people and for nature, is no longer imaginable. Apart from Covid-19, everything that is not sustainable must change.

Overcrowding, or “mass gathering” as we are more used to calling it lately, leads not only to the rapid propagation of a virus, but also to the destruction of natural ecosystems and an increase in waste, all phenomena to be contained and addressed, certainly not to be forgotten when the Covid-19 emergency will be over.

New tourism policies are urgently needed. These must include strategies which, in addition to facing the emergency, will have to survive even later, triggering a lasting change in the way of traveling and “doing tourism”. Now, more than ever, we can be aware that the “new tourism” must certainly be more sustainable, and at the same time responsible and innovative

What strategies to adopt?

A good starting point for reflection may be a report, published in 2018 by the World Tourism Organization, entitled ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions” . In this report, the UNWTO offered some suggestions which, today, can find even more fertile ground for reflection and action. Among the suggestions:

  • Encourage the dispersion of tourists within the city, and even beyond in the territory, suggesting the visit of lesser known destinations 
  • Promote tourism even out of season and in different time slots from the most popular
  • Create new itineraries and tourist attractions different from the most popular
  • Attracting more responsible types of travelers
  • Involve locals in creating tourist experiences
  • Develop and promote experiences of the city or territory that benefit both tourists and residents
  • Increase the infrastructure and services

Technology and smart solutions,  which are already proving to be fundamental tools in the emergency management from Covid-19, will also be able to provide solutions aimed at counteracting the uncontrolled development of tourism and aiming at a better sustainable and responsible management of the masses. 

In this sense, Travel Scratchpad was born as a digital, and therefore shared tool, that can highlight places that are not yet much visited, with the aim of letting people discover other less known and crowded destinations. The Amalfi Coast, in particular the towns of Amalfi and Positano, in fact, are some of the most emblematic examples of the problem of “overtourism” during the summer periods in Campania.

This is why Travel Scratchpad, as well as with change, was born also for change. A travel notebook, a smartphone friendly local guide. A simple tool that can help travelers to move more responsibly and, consequently, respecting the environment and local communities. “Social distancing” measures apart. 


For the history of the term “overtourism”, click here.

For the full text of the Report by the UNWTO, click here.

Citation: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Center of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality; NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences; and NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences (2018), ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions, Executive Summary, UNWTO, Madrid, DOI: https://doi.org/10.18111/9789284420070

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