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Planning Needed to Address Increased Tourism Flows to Europe


Santorini island, Greece

Greece, together with other leading European tourism destinations, will be working in the coming months on addressing the sector’s main challenge: overtourism. In efforts to deal with the impact, the EU is expected to include funding in its NSRF programs after 2020.

Speaking to Greek financial daily Naftemporiki, the head of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said the issue of overtourism is at the top of the European tourism industry’s agenda.

A Chinese tourist taking a “selfie” at the archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini.

Retsos said that SETE was working with other sector bodies across Europe on relevant policies and added that the German Tourism Association had already carried out studies and research which found that tourism flows to Europe are set to increase and inbound travelers from China to reach 100 million in the coming year.

Europe is currently the world’s leading tourism destination. This said, government officials, sector stakeholders and policy makers will be required to draw up policies and implement legal frameworks as well as move ahead with targeted infrastructure works.

One of Europe’s leading destinations welcoming over 30 million visitors in 2018, Greece is seeing the impact of overtourism on Santorini and in certain Athens neighborhoods heightened by the growing short-term rental phenomenon. Athens alone recorded over 5 million tourist arrivals this year

The Acropolis, Athens. Photo: GTP

The Acropolis, Athens. Photo: GTP

According to the UNWTO, the number of global travelers has gone from 25 million in 1950 to more than 1.3 billion in 2017, additionally predicting that the industry is expected to continue to grow by 3.3 percent per year by 2030, when an estimated 1.8 billion tourists are set to travel worldwide backed by stronger incomes, increased social and cultural exchange, and the evolving sharing economy.

To address the phenomenon already affecting, or soon to impact, favourite holiday spots in Europe, the UNWTO in September released the report titled “Overtourism – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth Beyond Perceptions”, proposing a series of measures aimed at understanding and managing the ever-growing number of visitors particularly to cities:

– Improving city infrastructure and facilities,
– Informing residents and local businesses about tourism planning,
Educating travelers on rules of conduct and respect of cultures,
– Extending the tourist season so that visitors are evenly distributed throughout the year,
– Creating city experiences which integrate visitors into the social fabric.

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