Destinations have vowed to fight back against overtourism for 2020 [CNN, 24/01/20]
If 2018 was the year of overtourism, 2019 was the year destinations fought back. Or, rather, vowed to do so. So how will 2020 shape up?
From Amsterdam to Venice, in 2019 authorities came up with new rules to fight the crowds and make life better for locals. But how many of those rules have been implemented, and how many drifted away once the noise (and all-important headlines) about their launch subsided?
CNN looked at the measures announced by five of Europe’s biggest destinations: Venice, Amsterdam, Santorini, Barcelona and Dubrovnik. All unveiled plans in 2019 to change tourism for the better. Have any of them worked? And what’s on the cards for 2020?
Dubrovnik cracks down on all tourists
Mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Franković has cast himself as a crusader against mass tourism, shutting down 80% of souvenir stalls, and restricting cruise ships to two per day. The stalls remain closed, and the two-ship rule was abided to 70% of the time during 2019, he tells CNN. It will be further enforced (with, he says, higher compliance) in 2020.
“There’s not such a big impact to the city now,” he says. “Everyone should feel comfortable without any [pedestrian] jams.”
In November 2019, Franković proposed an effective ban on new restaurants (the vast majority of Dubrovnik restaurants have seating mainly inside, so the legislation has banned any new outdoor tables). That resolution was passed by the city, and a spokesperson told CNN that it is due to come into force for 2020.
That resolution was passed by the city, and a spokesperson told CNN that it is due to come into force for 2020.
– Related content: Croatian port of Dubrovnik may ban new restaurants
Other new rules promised for 2020 include introducing a fixed number of prebooked slots for tourist buses and coaches to avoid overcrowding. On busy days, authorities will reserve the right to move slots around, in order to give the city breathing space.
There will also be per-bus charges, equating to around $5.50 per person — effectively a daytripper tax.From 2020, the private shuttle buses for cruise passengers from the port to the town will be replaced with regular public transport buses. Since they’re smaller, there will be less a sense of hundreds of people mushrooming at the gates.
“It’ll have an effect for the locals on [foot] traffic,” says Franković.The authorities are also clamping down on the mushrooming Airbnb market, by doubling the overnight tax on apartments — paid by the owners — to 1,500 kuna ($223) per year from 2020. Expect the price of your “idyllic Old Town escape” to rise, in order to factor in the tax.
Franković says that it’s crucial for destinations to work with providers — whether that’s cruise lines or tour operators — rather than against them. “When you’re taking steps [to limit tourism] you have to be careful because tourism is very vulnerable and we can make mistakes,” he says.
Amsterdam says, ‘Pay your way’
Amsterdam’s new year’s resolution for 2020 is to clamp down on tourists — at least, the wrong kind of tourists.The Netherlands government was already helping out its beleaguered capital — it no longer promotes Amsterdam as a destination, focusing instead on smaller cities and towns. But this year, the city council took further steps to future-proof itself.
From April 1 2020, tours of the Red Light District will be banned entirely, and groups in the city center will be capped at 15.What’s more, from January 1, the tax for visitors staying overnight was increased to what experts say could be the “highest in Europe“: 7% of the room price, plus a flat €3 ($3.30) per person. Visitors taking a boat tour of the canals will see their ‘entertainment tax’ go up from €0.66 to €1.50 ($1.70).
“Every year the number of tourists that pay a visit to our beautiful city increases,” Victor Everhardt, deputy mayor for economic affairs, tells CNN. It cost the municipality a lot to keep the city safe and clean, and to make sure the infrastructure — bridges, quay walls, streets and sidewalks — are in a good state.
“We increased the tourist tax, because we think it’s a more fair contribution to the use of the public space. Of course tourists are welcome to come and visit, but they have to contribute a bit more.”
Santorini goes after heavy-hitters
It’s known for its spectacular landscape: a prehistoric volcano turned by eruptions into a croissant-shaped island wrapped around the sparkling caldera, which is now filled in by the Aegean Sea. But its good looks have seen Instagram’s favorite Greek island explode with popularity, drowning the pretty whitewashed towns in tourists and having cruise ships swamp the caldera.
Its steep cliffs and the villages perched on top of them mean that passengers arriving on a cruise ship have three options to reach the island proper: walking up the switchback cliff path, taking the funicular or hiring a taxi — which in Santorini is a donkey.
For 2019, the authorities announced a cap on cruise passengers of 8,000 per day. A new national code of practice in Greece also recommended that donkeys must not carry loads of over 100 kilograms, or a fifth of the animal’s weight — in other words, no more portly tourists in Santorini.