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Growing wrath against mass tourism incites rejection reactions; do you relate to it?


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Posted (edited)

Having been born and raised in the city of lights, I had access to a lot of cultural exhibitions from an early age. Either with family or with school, as part of our history lectures.

I have also had the opportunity to travel Europe from the early 70's, and I elected Manhattan as my home away from home in the early 80's.

Today, when I go back, it feels like being in an active ant-hill. Long lines at each and every sight; almost impossible to take a photo of anything without other people standing in the shot.

Some locals have started to take matters into their hands. It has started in Greece, but it is quickly expanding.

I read that Barcelona has anti-tourists brigades that hunt tourists with water guns. This is new!

I was in Arizona a few weeks ago, and I did feel the same when attempting to visit the Antelope Canyon; I realized that I was myself part of the problem, but the experience was horrible. Each and every visitor fighting for a little bit of space to try to take in the beauty without having the atmosphere ruined by the other eager viewers.

It brought back memories of visiting the Eiffel Tower in the 60s, on a Sunday, you would have maximum ten people ahead of you at the ticket booth, and almost no waiting time. I can make the same comparison with any popular place worldwide.

Even the little local gems that used to only be known to the few have been given away by all those YouTubers avid of an audience. Trying to get out of the beaten path is more and more complicated. Last year, I booked my Parisian trip for November, hoping to escape the multitude. No chance. There will always be someone with time off at the same time as yours.

I am now considering the places which are still not very well known because not really open to world tourism. Such as the Pyrenees away from the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts.

Houston has never been much of a tourist destination, but I can tell how Austin has become from 2007 to today.

Difficult not to notice, should mass tourism be curbed somehow?

Edited by p6x
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Yep, waiting on lines sucks, but it is a good time to work on your patience and watch people who have none, or elect to go elsewhere, as you suggested. Yet I feel the bigger concern is that population growth is taxing the planet to the point that Earth itself is overcrowded. Resources used up. The waste we produce. The chemicals we use. And don't get me started on plastics. All that is going to be our downfall because none of that is changing. Fighting a crowd to take a picture seems a bit lower on the scale.

We ain't seen nothing yet. We are screwing ourselves...but money talks. It always has.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but that's how I feel.

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Posted (edited)

I enjoy traveling very much, and would hate to be limited. I believe with flights and accommodations being more affordable, more people are now traveling. I can't blame anyone, there is so much to see in this big world.

As for being anti-tourist, it leaves a bad taste. I live near Laguna Beach, CA so I do see a lot of tourist, long lines, etc. I never considered doing anything about it. I pray we all stay safe.

Edited by LaGrasta
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what used to be #3 on my list of desirable attributes of a good getaway/vacation was “lack of people”.  Now it’s tied for number 1 on the list. 

Feels old-man-ish to talk like that, so I try and “check myself”, but in fairness our race has never had to deal with this kind of monstrous population.  Add that we are now living with the spoils of the success of so many industrial and tech advances, which allows so many of us to not have to toil 12hrs/day in the fields, mines, etc. and we have the traveling hordes.  I don’t see how it can end well.  Many (most?) of our problems we worry about, pollution, fossil fuels, lack of resources, all go away or get markedly better without all the hordes.  

But i’m a member of the horde, technically.  And the sober reality is that us first-worlders have it pretty damn good. (But I did tell the missus, we can practice making babies all we want, but it’s 1, 2, or none for actual babies….   she wanted 5.  ya, despite the tough talk i’m  glad I got 2.)

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I went to Yosemite valley over the holiday (July 4th) weekend. We didn't get there early enough to park near the trailhead we preferred, so we had to walk 1.5 miles to the trailhead, then do the hike. The park was mobbed, but once we got to the steep part of the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, the crowds thinned. Mass tourism happens because things are worth seeing/doing. And Yosemite has responded by instituting a reservation system, which limits the total number of cars that come into the park. I support that.

I live in Carlsbad, CA. Seems like half of Arizona comes here every summer to get out the heat. Then the Tuesday after Labor is the start of "Local Summer" and the crowds get smaller.

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Tourists.

Firstly, I grew up a bit over a mile east of the dot.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/3167694079#map=12/-35.9438/145.6857

The river that Cobram, the nearest town, is on is a very popular tourist destination. The gag is, the river forms lovely sand beaches on the inside of the curves. Even 50 years ago, when I was still a kid, the beaches were wall to wall caravans during the summer. We locals were slightly irritated by the tourist, but knew that they brought money into the town.

Moving to Germany, I have been here about 8 times, I think:

https://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/index.htm

The first time in 1994 or so. At that time, the ticket kiosk was in the gates of the castle. Some time later, the ticket booth was a hundred metres below the castle on the path up. The last couple of times it was down in the village below. Fair enough, the way up is hard work, and one doesn't want people going up only to find out the can't get in for the next two hours, or even not at all.

The last three or four times I was there, the tour groups don't even go in until they are full, about 50 people. The trick is to hang back a bit, and try and be the last one out of each room, and then you get to see it almost empty. That works, but a "shepherd" follows each group through, so you can't overdo it.

It seems like they are more and more wanting people to book on-line before the even go there.

I have been to this museum 5 or 6 times, I think

https://gruenes-gewoelbe.skd.museum/en/visit/

There, you can't get in without a ticket you have booked on-line. You get a time slot, and have to front up at the right time to get in.

I'm fine with the systems at both of those places. It is obvious that if they didn't take such measures, you simply wouldn't be able to move inside, and would never really get to see what you came to look at.

I think that it becomes unavoidable to take measure to limit access.

Another example: cruise ships stopping in the lagoon at Venice. That just has to stop. Saint Marco Square is really lovely (saw it in 1994 or so on the same trip that took me to Neuschwanstein the first time...), and parking a cruise ship in front of it is just wrong.

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I live in a city that has grown by 1.4 million people in the last 21 years and it's basically getting to be a nightmare. From around 4.2 million to 5.6 million without any infrastructure upgrades to speak of. 

The two main issues are infostructure not keeping up with population growth due to a lack of proper management and the Neoliberal thinking that exists today where the social values are now "whatever I decide they should be". You cram more and more people into the same space and abandon the long term developed and traditional social values of basic manners, courtesy, honesty and integrity in dealing with others because that "kinda gets in the way of the life I want to lead and the things I want to do" and things start to get a little sub optimal.

I've done 3 long term tours around Europe in the past 84,86 and 1997 ( and yes Neuschwanstein as well Mick) and am about to return again for 5 weeks touring Italy. I'm expecting it to be very very crowded compared to my last visit.

Ciao

Edited by Lucky Phil
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1 minute ago, Lucky Phil said:

... abandon the long term developed and traditional social values of basic manners, courtesy, honesty and integrity in dealing with others because that "kinda gets in the way of the life I want to lead and the things I want to do" and things start to get a little sub optimal.

Yeah, that's not just Melbourne, mate. I reckon it has got to do with the (a)social media and stuff. I'm good, and the rest of you are losers if you aren't good too. :huh2:

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4 minutes ago, audiomick said:

Yeah, that's not just Melbourne, mate. I reckon it has got to do with the (a)social media and stuff. I'm good, and the rest of you are losers if you aren't good too. :huh2:

Yes Mick it's a western world phenomena. 

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I’d say that while yes, it is a ‘Western World’ phenomenon it is generally more of an anglophone western phenomenon, certainly my experiences in non-English speaking cultures in the last couple of decades have generally been more favourable.

There is also the simple matter of history. History and sums! For the last half millenium at least western culture has been, both geographically and politically dominant. The historical narrative, at least the one most people absorb, is western and Eurocentric. Now other countries and cultures are becoming wealthier a proportion of their citizens will want to travel and when you are looking at countries like China and India with populations of over a billion a piece it doesn’t take many as a percentage to mean that their chosen destinations will become overwhelmed.

Throw in ‘Our’ own boomers who have retired and want to see a bit of the world, often in a cocooned and ‘Safe’, ie, familiar environment that never takes them out of their comfort zone and it all turns into a rapidly evolving train wreck! I don’t think that the majority of these people are bad or unpleasant. Just boorish impatient and demanding.

The way Jude and I tackle it is probably a bit unusual in that we try to avoid big ticket ‘Name’ destinations like the plague and if we do want to go somewhere where you know it’s always going to be insanely busy we go, as we do in most places, in the depths of winter as this tends to thin the tourists out a bit.

On top of this we like to go to, and actively prefer, to stay in poorer, less developed and smaller towns and villages. Apart from the fact locals in bars and restaurants are always fascinated by WHY these strange, little old white haired pensioner people have come all the way from Australia to their little turdpoke village in Abruzzo or wherever! Then they want to know if you are on first name terms with their cousin in Griffith in the Riverina in NSW or their son Claudio who is a waiter in Adelaide etc etc !:grin:

In the UK we only drop down below the imaginary line we’ve drawn between the Bristol Channel and the Wash to visit relatives as anywhere below that line is an overpriced zoo with far, far too many people, most of whom think they are terribly special and are crying out for a good ‘Throat Punch’! Above the line things are infinitely better. There are still pockets of asshattery and some of the cities are really grim after 45 years of almost uninterrupted Tory destruction but the population density is way lower, it’s cheaper and the locals, (Outside the grim cities.) are friendly and helpful. It is also the cradle of the Industrial Revolution with history and museums to die for. The countryside, even in mid winter when it can be pretty bleak, is beautiful and once you get into Northumbria and Northumberland and thence on to Scotland the geography and landscapes are simply breathtaking. There is plenty of interesting Roman history to tickle my fancy in the borderlands areas and once into the highlands the austere magnificence is hard to beat although the lack of trees in the far north can cause issues!
 

In January on one trip we were travelling around the A9 across the top of Scotland and had picked up some picnic vittles in Wick. After nearly getting stuck when it stated snowing the weather cleared and we continued but Jude got a bee in her bonnet about finding a picnic table and eating out of the car. Somewhere just west of Thurso she spotted a side road with a sign depicting a picnic spot so we hung a right and went down to the small rest area on the coast. It had a beautiful little beach, (Surprisingly devoid of naked Germans because as you know wherever you go in the world if you find a nice beach it will have some ageing banker from Düsseldorf and his hausfrau lying around with their kit off! Even in Scotland in January!)

The absence of trees though belied the fact that it was in fact blowing about a force five gale! As we gathered up our meal of some cold cuts and proper English Cheddar the sun broke through the clouds and shafts of sunlight speared down onto the snow covered Orkney islands to the north, it was like the dawn of the world and stunning to behold! When we got out of the car though the gale was all too apparent but my darling helpmeet insisted we go and sit at the table, which we duly did and I set about hacking up the Baguette I’d bought in Wick. Jude unwrapped the 1/2 Kg of delicious cloth wrapped cheddar and sat it down on the table just as a particularly strong gust of wind hit, picked it up and sent it whistling off in the direction of Stromness never to be seen again! One assumes some lucky guillemot or puffin probably dined well that day! Anyway, after that even Jude thought discretion was the better part of valour and we retreated back to the car! And continued our trip!

Sure, in the summer it would have been warmer, the wind would probably of been gentler and we might of got to eat some cheese! But at the same time the A9 across the top of Scotland is in some places only a single lane road with passing pull-offs. In summer it would be gridlocked with morons towing caravans and other assorted mouth breathers! We were probably lucky to see two cars an hour!

Anyway! Enough. My main message is pick the ‘Wrong’ time to travel and you’ll find it’s likely to be the ‘Right’ time!

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Nice story Pete. My good wife also reminded me that since my 80's sojourns around Europe the wall has come down and China and India now have burgeoning middle classes. So Eastern European, Russian, Chinese and Indians and probably more I haven't thought of are now travelling. 

 

Phil

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