Let’s not love our favorite destinations to death!


Every
summer, a peculiar social behavior unfolds in North India. As if on cue come
mid-May, car trunks are loaded and families head to the Himalayas, creating
long, serpentine queues of vehicles trying to cross the same narrow passes.

Social media buzzes with images of these traffic jams, some lasting four to six
hours. Yet the fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to outweigh the dread of being
stuck in a car for hours – hungry, tired and hoping nature doesn’t call at an
inopportune moment.

It’s
not just happening in India.

Remember
when Spain’s
locals got so fed up with tourists they put up fake jellyfish signs
on
their beaches? Or when the Philippines
had to shut down Boracay Island
because it was getting trashed by too many
visitors?

Yes, tourism’s a weird beast. It’s great for the economy but can be a nightmare
for local communities and environments.

Global
tourism has been transforming for the past two decades, driven by first-time
travelers from developing countries. Less
than 10% of Indians hold a passport
, a figure mirrored in China, which
already leads in outbound tourism globally.

These new tourists often flock to popular, accessible and affordable
destinations. In contrast, seasoned travelers from developed countries seek
novelty in pristine, unexplored locations. This shift is not gradual; outbound
travel is increasing by nearly 100 million trips annually
, impacting the
world’s most beloved destinations.

Overtourism
presents a complex challenge.
It sustains thousands of small businesses, which
understandably prefer overtourism to under-tourism, especially post-pandemic.

But can we legitimately restrict access to certain destinations based on
nationality or affluence? The travel industry prides itself on inclusivity, yet
how can it reconcile this with the need to preserve destinations from the wear
and tear of mass tourism?

Now let’s
talk about the travel industry’s role in all this. For too long, the big
players – airlines, hotel chains, tour operators – have been pushing the same
old hotspots.

It’s like they are on autopilot, sending waves of tourists to places that can’t
handle the load. And sure, developing new destinations takes time, effort and
money, but here’s the kicker: If we don’t start doing it, we’ll love our
favorite spots to death.

Quote

Instead of milking the cash cows, let’s invest in the underdogs – those hidden gems that haven’t made it to the Instagram hall of fame yet.

Gaurav Bhatnagar – TBO.com

So what’s
the solution? It’s high time the travel industry stops pointing fingers at
governments and tourism boards and starts taking some responsibility. 

We’re talking about a shift in mindset here. Instead of milking the cash cows,
let’s invest in the underdogs – those hidden gems that haven’t made it to the
Instagram hall of fame yet.

It won’t be easy. Promoting new destinations means upfront investments and
maybe even some lost revenues in the short term. But think about the long game.
We’re not just selling trips; we’re selling experiences, memories and a chance
to explore the world without wrecking it.

Imagine if
we could spread tourism out a bit more. Less crowded streets in Venice, more
love for a quaint village in Portugal, fewer lines at the Eiffel Tower and more
awe at some undiscovered castle in Eastern Europe. That’s the kind of travel
future we should be aiming for.

In the end,
it’s all about balance. The travel industry can be a force for good, but only
if we’re willing to think outside the box and take some risks.

Let’s not
wait until our favorite destinations are on life support. Let’s get ahead of
the curve and start exploring (and promoting) the road less traveled.

About the author …

Gaurav Bhatnagar is co-founder of TBO.com, an India-based global platform that connects travel buyers and sellers. 


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