Europe has numerous cities that are considered romantic and are consequently popular among tourists who take a city break to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But, many of these cities are also struggling with an excess of tourists.
Local residents often let their anger out by blaming the tourists themselves. Anti-tourist graffiti has popped up in cities across Europe. Barcelona citizens even staged a protest against tourists on the city’s beach in the summer.
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But, should tourists be blamed for trying to enjoy a cheap city break?
A quick search on Skyscanner will find last minute flights in time for Valentine’s Day to Edinburgh from £39, Barcelona from £57, and Venice from £92.
Ultimately, the growth of low-cost carriers and affordable holiday accommodation has allowed certain cities in Europe to become overrun with tourists.
Venice is a city popular among couples and valentines retreaters, but is buckling under the number of tourists it attracts.
The number of people living in Venice has been in gradual decline for decades as tourism has taken over the city and rising rent prices have pushed Venetians out.
Paris – the City of Love – is a first thought for a romantic getaway in Europe.
Paris is one of the most visited cities in Europe and the world, attracting 36.5m tourists to the Greater Paris region in 2016. But, locals are rallying against one of the greatest facilitators of mass tourism – Airbnb.
The short-term rental platform has been accused of driving up housing prices and exacerbating housing shortages, as well as allowing illegal renting to occur throughout the city.
In response, Paris tightened regulations on Airbnb rentals, which now only allows registered apartments to be rented out to tourists and also limit the number of days apartments can be rented out to 120 days a year.
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Edinburgh is the latest city to claim to be suffering from overtourism, residents of the Scottish capital are said to be becoming increasingly frustrated with the “inconvenience and disruption” caused by tourists.
Industry players and local governments need to collaborate to ensure they are promoting responsible tourism — this doesn’t necessarily mean limiting tourist numbers. But, redirecting tourists to less popular sites and regulating short-term rentals are solutions which require effort from both local officials and businesses.
Amsterdam has renamed Zandvoort (18 miles from the city centre) to “Amsterdam Beach” to make it more appealing to tourists in the city. While, Airbnb’s cap on the number of days Parisian hosts can rent out their property is a step in the right direction.
Tourists thinking about booking a city break for Valentine’s Day could plan their trip with locals in mind; avoiding tourist hotspots at the busiest times and staying in hotels are two ways to help reduce the impact of over tourism.
But, the solution isn’t really down to tourists, industry players and local governments need to work together to limit the negative impact of over tourism.