Overtourism: too many of us going to the same places at the same times to see the same sights. With harrowing images of long queues to get to the summit of Mount Everest, swarms of holidaymakers descending on the world's most famous (and Instagrammable) spots, and islands and beaches having to close due to damage from tourists - the issue of overtourism really hit the headlines in 2019 and made us take a look at how and why we travel. So, in a bid to become Undertourists (yes, it's a thing) and do something a bit more Original (naturally), we put our thinking caps on to look at the best ways to minimise our negative impact while travelling, move away from the crowds and strike out on our own path less trodden.
Tip 1: Pick Destinations Carefully
Tourism itself isn't the problem. According to figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council, in 2018 the tourism industry contributed $8.8 trillion to the world economy and employed 319 million people (roughly one in 15 of the workforce worldwide). Tourism - in moderation - is a force for good, redistributing money to places that need it and promoting cross-cultural engagement and understanding. Become an undertourist by thinking through where you travel to. We can help you go beyond the guidebook, discover new places and opt for deeper experiences. Not only will you help to save places from themselves, but you'll have a far better travelling experience in the process.
Tip 2: Ask the Experts
At its core, undertourism is about being more thoughtful in the way that you travel. As Stephen Bleach argues, 'the problem is not tourism itself: it's just a lack of imagination.' At Original Travel, the clue's in the name: we're big believers in originality, both with regard to destinations, and what to do when you're there. We want you to really get off the beaten path and under the skin of a place. From our region-specific travel specialists to our knowledgeable local Concierges who know their destinations inside and out, we have the know-how to spark your travel imagination.
Tip 3: Adapt your Mindset
To really become an undertourist, you have to rediscover the art of travel, the childlike excitement of being immersed in an entirely different culture. Pocket you phone and travel in the present, taking it all in with your eyes instead of filtered through a camera lens. Question why you want to go somewhere. Are you aching to visit Valletta to wander the whisper-quiet backstreets or because a trendy friend of a friend went there? Do you want to go to the Louvre to appreciate the art of because on a trip to Paris, you feel like you really ought to? First, figure out why you want to travel, and then work out the where.
Tip 4: Be a Responsible Traveller
As travellers, we have an important role to play with it comes to tackling the issue of overtourism. We need to respect the places we're visiting and take the time to learn about the local culture and customs. We need to reduce out impact on the environment by planning eco-friendly holidays and embracing Slow Travel. We need to remember that travel is a privilege and that the dreamy destinations we visit are living, breathing places that we're only borrowing from the locals for a little while.
Tip 5: Timing is Everything
If you really want to visit those picture-perfect, iconic destinations and sites (let's face it, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu and Santorini are popular for a reason), then it's all about when you go. Our experts know how to minimise the crowds (one of our travel specialists actually worked on a project that tracked footfall at the famous Cambodian Angkor temple complex!), whether that's an after-hours private tour, exclusive access, or travelling during shoulder season.