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Norway's Bold Plan to Tackle Overtourism (outsideonline.com)
148 points by gerbilly 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 264 comments

Welcome to the world of, by some measures, "too many" people having too much disposable wealth. There are obviously worse problems to have. But overtourism is a problem that's only going to get worse.

This even affects Mount Everest where people are literally dying just to say they stood at the top of the world. And Everest simply can't support the number of climbers now.

You see this in US national parks where the obvious ones (eg Yosemite) are arguably oversubscribed while others you could probably go days without seeing anyone.

There's a certain lack of imagination here. Some of it is convenience. Take Everest. People climb it because it's the tallest and people know what it is. There are ~14 other peaks over 8000 meters. Are any of these qualitatively worse experiences? Probably not. But... bragging rights.

Solutions to this fall into a number of buckets:

1. Making it more expensive: some will complain only the rich can go and this is unfair.

2. Quotas: you have to book far, far in advance and no doubt this is unfair to some people.

3. Lottery system: this is really a variation of quotas but probably fairer.

So I've been to Paris like 4 times. I like it but my God the touristy places are a nightmare such that I basically never went to any. Honestly the best part for me was the bread. The sandwiches you'd buy on the street were unbelievably good.

Anyway, I honestly don't understand this need people have to jam in with 100,000 other people just to see some famous building. Maybe that's just me.

> "too many" people having too much disposable wealth.

I don't think this is the problem at all. The world is huge. There are millions of tourist destinations and plenty of room for people in all of them.

The problem is with distribution. Social media creates power law distributions of attention. There are a few pieces of writing I wish every human on Earth had read and this is one of them:


Instagram has caused these power law distributions to escape media onto the real world. While there are millions of delightful vacation destinations, most people never hear about most of them. Instead, a tiny minority of the most photogenic one (like Trolltunga, mentioned in the article), consume almost all of the attention and then net a huge, unmanageable number of visitors. For every Everest, there are a hundred mountains that are 90% as beautiful but only get 10% of the visitors.

I believe this is one of the fundamental, structural problems of the modern age. Most of the information we consume — literally the knowledge we base our worldview on — is now brought to our attention based on social media sharing and aggregation. The nature of those systems takes a linear range of "relevance" and distorts it into power law that no longer matches reality. But because this is our window into reality, we then take the result of that distortion at face value.

I would love to see more systems engineered to try to balance that. Perhaps a Twitter-like system that capped the number of followers you had. A recommendation engine that subtracted out the effect of popularity when ranking. But so far I don't see many. I'm not sure if it's because it's not what people want, not what advertisers want, or what.

(The great thing about knowing that this effect happens is that you can often easily acquire a better-than-average experience by deliberately stepping a little farther towards the long tail. The third best restaurant in a city is usually almost as good as #1 but noticeably cheaper. The second-most popular hike will give you 80% of the view with 20% of the crowds.)

This is a great point! I've noticed a similar thing with Muir Woods in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are other amazing ancient redwood forests in several other places nearby (e.g. Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Redwood Regional Park, Joaquin Miller Park, the north side of Mount Tamalpais facing Fairfax, and several places along both sides of Skyline Drive along the peninsula -- probably among others that I don't know).

OK, the redwood trees in them might be only 80% as old and tall, the United Nations might not have been founded inside them, and some of them might have only 6 km of trails through the forest rather than 10 km. But many of these places are often nearly deserted, have no entrance fee, are a quicker and less twisty drive from San Francisco, and are incredibly majestic, peaceful, and spectacular.

Meanwhile, Muir Woods had to introduce a rationing and permit system to visit by private car or public bus (https://gomuirwoods.com/), and along the main trail on the valley floor you are basically never out of sight of other visitors during a weekend or holiday.

I've reserved a picnic area inside an ancient redwood grove for an upcoming birthday picnic.


OK, it's definitely no Muir Woods, but it's just 6 km north of Muir Woods and you can reserve the area for a small fee on a weekend during the summertime.

I think the power-law effects you describe have been true of tourism forever. Muir Woods has attracted dramatically more tourists than the MMWD or EBMUD redwood groves for decades. But I also think you're right that the Internet is accelerating them, because you can hear about where to go via discovery mechanisms that so drastically and rapidly reward pre-existing popularity.

(If you live in or visit the Bay Area, check out https://www.marinwater.org/175/Directions-Maps-to-Watershed-... and https://www.ebmud.com/recreation/east-bay/east-bay-trails/ for information about hiking in -- often -- redwood forests owned by municipal water districts in reservoir watersheds, or https://www.marinwater.org/DocumentCenter/View/156/Map_Marin... for a map of all public lands in Marin County.)

> I think the power-law effects you describe have been true of tourism forever.

Yes, they are an emergent property any time you have a communication network where people rebroadcast information based on their preference, but restricted to the set of choices they are aware of.

But I believe the exponent of the power curve increases as the amount of resharing goes up. Before social media, you were still limited by what travel books you saw in a store, or where your friends went on vacation, but there was less reverberation and resonance in the network and a relatively flatter power curve.

I agree with your analysis and think this is a helpful way to think about what has and hasn't changed.

I took advantage of the free redwood days last year and visited a bunch of state parks, and there's definitely a long list of hidden gems. Most just have the $10 parking fee and picnic tables are readily available.

The interesting observation is that choosing one of these parks consists of just going through a boring large list of parks in a boring old gov website and picking one at random. Whereas going to, say, Yosemite and finding sightseeing places largely involves going to google and/or local tourism guides and funnel the same way as everyone else (resulting in, as one might expect, arriving at spots crowded w/ tourists)

Why do you have to post about this. Don't ruin the quiet places please.

> The problem is with distribution. Social media creates power law distributions of attention. There are a few pieces of writing I wish every human on Earth had read and this is one of them:

> http://shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html

I really hope this post was self aware.

Maybe people should stop making fun of hipsters, who consciously try to avoid the peaks of power law distributions.

And while avoiding it, they create an opposite peak of their own

> I would love to see more systems engineered to try to balance that. Perhaps a Twitter-like system that capped the number of followers you had.

Is that really better? I think I like the current system. Sure, Everest is ruined, but there are a dozen places nearly as amazing that can be enjoyed with much less crowds. If you want bragging rights, then go to Everest. If you want serenity and beauty, go to the other mountains.

Given the number of people on earth, trying to distribute the people will just lead to everything being destroyed, albeit a little bit slower.

I don't think distribution is the only problem. Japan is currently trying to distribute tourists through shuttles/advertising/etc but there can be adverse effects on those communities in addition to the normal tourist spots.


There's just too many tourists.

That's a good point. But it's still the case that there are superstar locations that everybody wants to go to. Pulpit Rock, Sagrada Familia, just to name a couple of newly-popular ones. I think for these the solution is to encourage off-season travel. Basically to spread the currently summer-heavy distribution over the entire year.

> A recommendation engine that subtracted out the effect of popularity when ranking.

That's a pretty interesting idea. Get the stuff that's really particular to your interests, undiluted by what's just generally popular.

But for abundant things we should all get the best and completely abandon second best.

It's only for scarce things like "place-to-visit" that we'd be better served with pushing the 2nd tier. 1st tier things should be a bit more crowded though: the equilibrium state is where less crowded 2nd tier is equally pleasant as more crowded 1st tier.

In statistics if 100 people think a destination is good what is the chance that the experience is not good?

> this need people have to jam in with 100,000 other people just to see some famous building. Maybe that's just me.

I was fortunate enough to spend a gap year traveling around the world, and one of the lessons I learned quickly was that I have little interest in "iconic" destinations. I can distinctly remember when I made this realization: I was in Oia Santorini at sunset, which I had decided to go to because I had seen amazing photos of this secluded town on a cliffside overlooking the sun go down over the Aegean. But while the view was beautiful, the reality of that moment was a thousand other tourists elbowing their way to a good vantage point to take the same picture which had been taken a million times before. There was even a newly married couple who was standing there dejected: they had apparently gone to that point to take wedding photos, but discovered it would obviously be impossible.

I still like to travel, but please keep me miles away from anything famous.

When I was at Oia, for sunset as well, there was someone who almost fell off one of the main spots people go as he was taking a selfie with a selfie stick, a girl who peed off the edge (with her friends laughing her on), etc.

Even on Santorini, which is tiny, I was able to find nice places that weren't completely crowded.

In what part of the year did you go?

I went in late October when weather in other parts of Europe was bad anyways, and there were many tourists, but still an OK amount, not what you’re describing.

It was amazing so actually I want to go back some time to show it to my parents.

This was early June

It the Everest case the lottery could be used to pay for all of the externalities.

Everyone who wants to climb Everest pays in 100 bucks to register. Winner has to pony up another 900 for the permit, and fines for leaving material on the mountain. Spend the net profit on cleaning up after the people who already left shit on the mountain.

But here's another alternative that also fixes it:

To get a permit to climb Everest, you have to have spent some hundreds of hours volunteering for the crew doing cleanup. You'd see the lower 70% of the route multiple times before it was ever your turn. You'll get a hint of how you respond to altitude + cold. You'll understand what a flying pain in the ass it is to clean up after asshole climbers. You will also go farther up Everest than most people ever will, and you'll be reducing the human footprint in the process.

Everest permits already cost USD $11,000. The problem is the government doesn't necessarily use that money to clean up the site. The government also doesn't cap the number of climbers, as far as I know. Hence the chaos up there.


The friction of requiring volunteer hours would probably buy them another ten years of runway to solve that problem.

https://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/... has a required number of hours per year to get - and retain - an allotment. It's meant to reduce entropy and keep the waiting list a bit shorter. A couple of things on this list https://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/... can get you your hours in faster, which bumps you up a little bit in the queue. I'd like to see that ramp more aggressively but that would discriminate against blue collar workers.

Everest doesn't have that problem, though. Climbing it is, in many ways, a statement of privilege already. If you issued permits to the 100 people with the most volunteer hours in that year, you'd solve a whole host of problems.

This year was especially bad because the weather window was especially short, meaning that all the people who might have had a month or more to spread themselves out over were condensed into a week or two.

I was in Rome with my wife for less than two days for other reasons, and we decided we'd pass by Trevi Fountain. Let me tell you, that place was packed.

Maybe 400-500 people packed just to say they were there, or maybe wait in hopes of getting a clear shot. All of this just to brag in social media.

I think the problem would be better if people didn't brag on social media about every single place they go to.

So, the problem would be better if our monkey brains were not wired to pursue, and to envy social monkey-status-seeking?

The USSR tried to build the New Soviet Man for only what, 70 years...

And you were one of the 400-500 packing the place. All the others were thinking you are part of the problem and they are the legitimate visitor.

If only you'd put as much effort into reading as you put into your condescending tone, then, just maybe, you'd notice the part where I mentioned we wanted to "pass by", and not "sit for hours just to take a picture".

Those 400-500 people were just staying there, with many blocking the street – you know, the thing people walk on?

> 2. Quotas: you have to book far, far in advance and no doubt this is unfair to some people.

Reminds me of that scene from Into The Wild where our protagonist tries to kayak down the Colorado River and is told by a ranger that the next permit is available in 12 years.

Of course it feels absurd, but what do we do?

Edit: the clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4mWt2D_d6s

"Welcome to the world of, by some measures, "too many" people having too much disposable wealth."

Or as in this case, a cabal of people for the travel industry managing to capture public funds to direct massive subsidies towards their goals, either directly or indirectly though avoid pricing in massive externalities and even get massive tax benefits.

All three of those methods are used by the Augusta National golf course to control visitor crowds during the Master's golf tournament each year. It seems to work reasonably well in creating a predictable number of guests at any given point during the tournament. But they also are able to control their borders effectively. I don't know how you'd scale this approach up to country-size levels.

Why not just auction? That way you don’t have the misallocation of quotas without auctions, the uncertainty of lotteries, or the deadweight loss of incorrect price choosing. Pick a number the trail can handle, auction tickets.

Sure - if you don't mind cutting off all less wealthy travelers, then go ahead.

Well, there are options here. You could assume that the time value for the wealthy travelers is high and the time value for the poor travelers is low. Your objective is to maximize the (revenue - cost_to_maintain) while retaining some max_visitors. You could then offer the Faroe Islands option: you get to trade off some degree of your time and some degree of your wealth to visit. So you could either pay $1000 to go to Preikestolen or you could help maintain the trail for some x days etc.

Ultimately, let's be honest: we want the most number of people to be able to experience these things (I fortunately went to most of these places before the recent boom and I think they're wonderful) while ensuring that the cost to the environment isn't catastrophic. That means some people can't go. We can pick some mechanism but it will necessarily exclude some people. The money is the best selection mechanism because we can use it at pretty high granularity on preserving the thing that is bearing the cost, but any substitute that serves the purpose does just as well.

The key magic is that with money we can undo some damage. That's what makes it a useful thing to auction on.

How is this different than what for profit airlines, hotels already do within the tourism industry?

Less wealthy travelers go at odd times, they live in hostels and have "worse" experiences.

The only difference in this case is that the country is also directly profiting from this demand.

I thought that was the point given their goals. I guess it makes their inner ugliness too blatant though.

Vickrey auction?

There is also some effect of social media. For my next holiday I was checking out where to go and found articles with titles like "The most instagramable locations in *".

Banning photos might be an unconventional but effective way to have people actually experience more of the place they visit and for places to be less overrun.

I much perfer to see the oddities a place has to offer, it would be a shame to not be able to visit because others need to stand in a crowd looking at the Mona Lisa.

Indeed. People go to the edge of the world and wear it down.

All the while transport to the edge of the world is a real problem in terms of emissions - both for flight and by boat.

Currently living in Barcelona, where 'overtourism' is a much bigger problem than in Norway IMHO, it feels weird. You start passing bills on restricting tourism, then the natural next step is being hard on immigration, then Brexit.

The ability to control who goes in and who goes out usually falls on the hand of those that shouldn't have that kind of power.

Edit: Removed "At the risk of being downvoted" as some comments suggested

I have mixed feelings about this. I used to live in El Raval, and during August I dreaded even leaving the apartment because I knew I would have to fight crowds even to go to the corner and buy milk.

I agree with your general premise, that restricting freedom of movement has not historically been a good thing, but I do also think it's a tragic when a beautiful and interesting place gets absolutely overrun by tourists and as a result gets less beautiful and less interesting, and far less livable for the people who stay there year round and don't leave after a couple days.

I think tourism can be seen as a problem of negative externalities, much the same way as pollution can: for a few businesses in the community, it's a huge net positive. Hotels and restaurants, for example, make big profits off of tourists in popular destinations, but everyone else has to deal with more litter, crowded streets and higher prices, but doesn't see any of the benefit. Just like we regulate pollution, I think it's possible to find ways to regulate tourism to maximize the collective good.

I also think there are ways to regulate tourism without beckoning the "slippery slope" you worry about. For instance, I have been on an island in Thailand which can only be accessed between 8AM and 8PM, does not allow outside plastics of any kind, and charges a modest fee to enter. Measures like that, or increased taxes on accommodation for example, can make it just a little bit harder to visit a popular destination and will probably result in less visitors on average without imposing a quota.

There’s at least one benefit of tourists: you get more and a better selection of restaurants

I live in a part of Oslo with a vibrant restaurant scene, and one of the reasons is the extra business tourists drum up

I found this to be the opposite in Barcelona. I had a discussion with people who live there who said that since the majority of restaurant customers are tourists (a lot of whom travel on a budget, i.e. young backpackers) and will never come back, most (~70%) restaurants can get away with okay or even substandard food and bad service and still make a profit. So tourism is actually lowering the quality of restaurants. I think because Oslo is so much more expensive than a city like Barcelona, it has a much higher percentage of well-off tourists who are a lot more demanding and have more money to spend, so you end up with more and better restaurants.

That’s what social media sorta solved: bad service will tank a restaurant. Bad food won’t.

I’m thankful that one of my favourite French dishes (aligot), while looking like a pile of whipped vomit, is presented in an entertaining manner.

Interesting... here in a relatively touristy part of Melbourne, anecdotally, it's pretty much those backpackers who are working the tables in half of the trendy restaurants and cafes.

There's definitive trends on making food 'instagrammable', but the overall quality and competition between all the restaurants is undeniably good.

Although now that I think about it, you take somewhere like Lygon street famous for its Italian, and the local advice would be to never eat there if you want good Italian (with maybe one or two notable exceptions).

That's because Australia has incredibly easily accessible tourist working visas. It's what makes it attractive for a broke college kid to bum around in for a few months, in a way that would never happen in Canada, or the United States...

Wages are also far higher than the US or Canada: the legal minimum wage is $19.49/hour, and many industry unions have negotiated higher rates. This means a backpacker can do menial labor and still save meaningful amounts of money to use for travel, even when accounting for the higher cost of living.

I believe in US/Canada if you work in a restaurant Wages are subsidized with tips we don't tip here in Australia so the higher minimum wage probably accounts for that.

In that vein, I'm always optimistic about restaurants in non-touristy places where there's a choice of restaurants (i.e. not just the only one). Those places live and die on local traffic. And people won't go back if it's rubbish.

I live in Amsterdam and I would argue the exact opposite. There are tons of crappy restaurants, bars and night clubs here, primarily in the more touristic places. These places serve shitty food and have shitty service. They get away with it because they do not need repeat customers. There are new tourists that will visit every single day anyway, so why would they bother serving good food and treating their customers well. In my experience less touristy cities in the Netherlands have better food and friendlier service for a lower price.

Maybe "more" but restaurants catering to tourists are not usually "better".

Anecdotally, the Italian food one can find within a mile of the Colosseum is lower quality than what you'd get at any American Olive Garden.

This seems unlikely. I'd believe "One can find Italian food within a mile of the Coliseum of lower quality than..." but that's a different statement than the one you've made here.

Tourists traps aren’t anything new. If anything, social media helps guide people away from them in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Realistically, they both serve Barilla dried pasta.

I know I’m about to get ripped off and have a subpar meal when there’s English on the menus. Flavors are almost always subdued and everything normalizes to some weird not quite local cuisine to appease picky travelers. Then there’s always the one exotic thing on the menu that’s made for show and the instagram photos, but the flavor is bland as can be.

The worst thing about overtourism is it makes travel boring. Everything tries to repackage itself as something accessible for 30-something middle class people who don’t want to go to Disney Land but also don’t want to worry about a stomachache or a weird smell.

I'm curious about where in Oslo you're talking about (I just lived there for 2 years).

Maybe that's a good idea. Is charging more the solution? Effectively you're making tourism more robust in the area, because it becomes the main source of value for what you can do there (as in, the more expensive it is, the weaker other non-touristic options become, because they attract less profit).

> Effectively you're making tourism more robust in the area, because it becomes the main source of value for what you can do there

Not necessarily. For example, a hotel tax could be redistributive: you can take some of the excess value which would only be enjoyed by the business owner and use it to increase the standard of living for the rest of the population in any number of ways (better schools, better roads etc). Also you're making it a bit more expensive to operate that business, so you're putting a thumb on the scale in favor of non-touristic businesses.

> You start passing bills on restricting tourism, then the natural next step is being hard on immigration, then Brexit.

This is kind of an interesting comment if you overthink it, as I enjoy doing.

By my reading, "then the natural next step is being hard on immigration" is a rather boldly axiomatic statement, as if being hard on immigration is _Wrong_, full stop. If others hold the opinion that ~open borders are a Good Thing, that's fine with me because it's an opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own. But when reading forums and the news I constantly get a strong sense that in the last 5 years this subject has rapidly progressed from "matter of opinion" status and deeply into "matter of fact".

> The ability to control who goes in and who goes out usually falls on the hand of those that shouldn't have that kind of power.

Like democratically elected politicians? Or is there someone else who should decide who gets to hold what power?

It's interesting that someone could recognize the harm caused by droves of temporary visitors to a desirable area, yet not make the simple extrapolation of those effects to unlimited permanent resettlement.

I think that weird feeling OP is talking about is the cognitive dissonance from recognizing in person the need to keep from being overrun by outsiders, yet having a blind spot over the solution because its negation has already been accepted as a given due to social conformity.

> yet having a blind spot over the solution because its negation has already been accepted as a given due to social conformity

I agree, it seems to have become a fundamental axiomatic belief. My impression is that this change in thinking has spread very broadly (at least among vocal social media users) in a very short period of time, and it seems to be held in a very non-negotiable way, not subject to logical discussion.

I think it's weird to recognize the harm caused by unlimited permanent resettlement, without recognizing the harm caused by the existence of problematic current residents.

If we're going to start stack-ranking people based on how much harm they do where they live, quite a lot of locals in any particular area ought to be shown the boot.

This is why anti-immigration rhetoric tends to explicitly avoid trying to quantify the harm caused by immigrants. Much of the time, such a utilitarian calculus doesn't look great for the locals. Most immigrants tend to work harder, be more educated, do less crime, etc, etc...

(PS. If you tell me that it is morally wrong to let newcomers displace existing residents, I will point out that our society thinks it's perfectly reasonable for internal migrants to displace locals, when it comes to things like housing... Odd, that.)

(Not the person you replied to btw)

> without recognizing the harm caused by the existence of problematic current residents

To be fair, this is a presumption though isn't it, whereas the matter of the harm caused by immigrants/visitors already exists within the context of this discussion.

> quite a lot of locals in any particular area ought to be shown the boot

If you have the option of booting people out, but how might that be done in the real world? It would be a violation of UN conventions would it not?

> This is why anti-immigration rhetoric tends to explicitly avoid trying to quantify the harm caused by immigrants

This seems a bit presumptuous as well. Speaking for myself, I hold the exact opposite view, what bothers me is a lack of quantification of the full effects of immigration. In my experience, anything that is quantified by governments or advocates is heavily slanted towards a pro-immigration conclusion.

> Most immigrants tend to work harder, be more educated, do less crime, etc, etc...

Indeed they do. As a result, if you live in a laid back country where people typically have a certain balance between leisure and work, and you have high immigration from cultures that optimize more towards the work end of the spectrum, it could have significant negative impacts on your quality of life and ability to afford your prior standard of living.

> If you tell me that it is morally wrong to let newcomers displace existing residents, I will point out that our society thinks it's perfectly reasonable for internal migrants to displace locals, when it comes to things like housing... Odd, that.

Again, it's presumptuous to assume that an individual holds the same belief as overall society, if overall society even holds that belief (how would we even know such a thing with any certainty?). There is certainly widespread negative sentiment of internal migrants displacing locals throughout the world, and I'd wager the people who hold this belief would also tend to be the ones who are most opposed to immigration, if so it would actually be logically consistent, so not really that odd after all. But once again, we have no way of knowing that with any certainty, as long as we continue to refuse to seriously study such things. If one looks closely, you might notice that all such arguments, on both sides, are largely based on people's imaginations, not facts.

To the contrary, it is usually the people who deny the potential harms of immigration who also tend to deny the harm caused by the most problematic locals. It would be great to have a quantified discussion about who's doing the most crime, but that's politically radioactive.

It boils down to the fact that borders are artificially constructed. Yeah, even democracy isn't something that came down from the sky. Again, "who are you to block my path?", a very difficult question.

> It boils down to the fact that borders are artificially constructed.

Is that what it "boils down to"? Nothing more and nothing less than "borders are artificially constructed"? It happens to be a technically true statement, but are you saying something along the lines of because borders are artificially constructed then therefore it logically follows that they should be removed? If not, what are you saying, exactly?

I think it’s just that people believe in the Veil of Ignorance. Why must I be given access and others excluded merely because of an accident of birth? Perhaps all citizenship should be tested into. You put everyone in an immigration queue, including people born in the country. Then you select the best according to a pre-existing rubric.

> I think it’s just that people believe in the Veil of Ignorance

That's a wonderful thought, but do you truly believe that's how most people think? I see few signs of it even on relatively intelligent forums.

> Why must I be given access and others excluded merely because of an accident of birth?

Framing it as "must" is a big part of my complaint. Immigration and similar issues are extremely complex, the idea that there is a knowable "correct" answer seems absurd to me. Taking your theoretical approach for example, to where shall we export the domestic people who fail the test? We can't even remotely agree on how to handle the existing system that has essentially been in place for generations, getting other countries to agree to accept people from other countries who've failed a test is just one of many complications in that approach.

So that solution is to sort humanity and get best specimens to live in one place and send all the undesirables to somewhere already supposedly worse off?

I think if we go all the way into dystopian solutions, a fair one would be to run a lottery for every baby and send them to a random family in a random part of the world.


(that's an honest "wait...", I set out to write a fair but very dystopian example and got to where we are now :))

This, it feels very weird to me seeing people advocate for basically only allowing the super rich to travel. To a lot of people, travelling abroad isn't just about getting drunk at foreign clubs and leaving trash everywhere, but about experiencing other cultures and having your world-view widened beyond what you see every day. I think most people would argue these things are good, not just for the individual but for society?

Solving the problem of over-tourism is different than raising the price of travel overall. When talking about over-tourism, we're only really talking about a few thousand places which attract so many tourists that they cannot function in a healthy place. If you increased the price of tourism in those select places, then yes, you might have the unfortunate outcome that only upper-middle-class people could visit Paris in May, but all those other people could go to smaller cities in central France which are still full of culture to experience, and might stand to benefit a lot from increased tourist revenue.

But maybe I am a bit biased because I like to visit obscure places anyway.

That's true, I guess I'm conflating "overtourism" specifically with a wider push discouraging people from travel to decrease carbon emissions. You make a fair point, there is plenty of the world left to experience beyond the big hubs like Paris and Rome.

Look at it this way: why is the desire of today's middle class to travel by air more important than the survival of civilization tomorrow?

Travel imposes heavy costs on the world, in its current carbon based form. It's only affordable because we pass these costs on to the future.

It's not just the desire to travel by air, it's the economics. When I first moved to Germany I looked into doing a few trips by train, but the flights were much cheaper.

That definitely sounds like a failure of regulation. Taxes should be levied, and probably also subsidies put in place (from those taxes), so that train travel is cheaper than air travel. Train travel doesn't require nearly as much energy as air travel, per passenger.

Right. OP was arguing we shouldn't price in externalities because it would conflict with the desire to travel by air.

There are different degrees of overtourism. I'm from a very touristy city, Rio de Janeiro, but when I went to Barcelona, it was really in another league. Almost everybody at the subway were foreigner, as almost everybody in the restaurants.

So be it. Traveling everywhere every time you want isn't a human right. It's a luxury.

Wow I can't believe you mean this. This isn't even a slippery slope. This is a sheer precipice, with Trump and his racist pals grinning sardonically at the bottom. Humans who can't travel are not free.

> but about experiencing other cultures and having your world-view widened beyond what you see every day.

I think if you want to experience what a country is really like you need to learn the local language, or find a guide who understands that you want a "real" experience and that you are OK with going out of your comfort zone. Otherwise you are going to end up in one of the tourist containment zones around the world where every local speaks sales-oriented English, is hawking some trinket with the country's name on it, and the available food is pizza, fries, McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and if you're lucky, an inoffensive variation of a local dish.

Yea it’s a funny word “overtourism”. I guess it’s what you call it when other people go on vacation (whereas when I go on vacation it’s just “tourism”). :P

Living Iceland, the increased amount of tourists means that everything can no longer be written in the local language so that the tourists can understand, and that when you go to a restaurant, you often can't even order food using icelandic as the staff won't understand you, walking down the street, everyone is speaking English to each other, things that used to be free and offered to the public, now have to come at a charge due to the amount of people trying to take advantage of a place or a service, and the fact that we have several times the amount of tourists as we do locals, it's eroding the culture.. quickly.

At least for me, I feel a difference between tourism, and over-tourism.

...you often can't even order food using icelandic as the staff won't understand you...

One doubts that the restaurant staff are tourists? You seem to be saying that they aren't Icelandic, however.

increased tourism, has meant an increased demand in everything.. which has meant an increased demand in low-wage jobs, increasingly held by foreigners looking for work.

I don't see this as a wholly bad thing, but the negative impact is that the people you interact with in the service industry, are not able to converse with you easily.

Imagine living in mexico, walking into a mexican restaraunt, and having to order in english because the wait staff and kitchen can't understand spanish.

It's not the worst thing that's ever happened, but I do miss being able to speak my native language outside of close circles.

i don't know about iceland specifically, but at least some countries offer various working visas, so you can stay in the country for a year and work to fund it. the folks using those are bit a more likely to end up with jobs in tourism, because they speak the language of the tourists, and they want to be in tourist destinations themselves, being a different form of tourist.

If it's you, then it's a 'traveler' or a 'wonderlust'. The rest of the world are simply 'tourists'.

It all comes down to the question "who do you think you are to block my path?" It's not a straightforward answer, though. We've been struggling to answer this as human beings since forever.

Indeed. This exact attitude was satirized in an A Bit of Fry & Laurie sketch waaaay back in 1990:

Hugh: Ah, yes well now you see, I have campaigned for years now to have tourists banned from Venice.

Stephen: Have you? Have you?

Hugh: I have, I have. It sounds very harsh, very cruel, very ...

Stephen: Deglante?

Hugh: Very deglante, thank you. But I'm sure it's the only way.

Leslie: Who was it, who was it, who said "He is a tourist, you are a holidaymaker, but I am a traveller?"

Hugh: Oh, was it Humbert Wolfe?

Stephen: It was Cocteau, surely?

... etc., etc...

Instead of the destination country finding a way to charge tourists more to discourage them, source countries could tax them more to resolve the issue and keep the monies for themselves.

I think of it as “Only rich people used to be able to come here, but now people of more moderate means can, oh noes”.

I think it's probably a convergence of relatively cheaper air travel and also network effects due to social media. For instance not too long ago, I was in a particularly scenic beach Italy, and was surprised to find that, while it had previously been a destination mostly for Italians, this year they experienced a large number of American tourists even though it's a bit complicated to reach and it's hard to navigate that region with English alone. I suspect you could trace that shift to a social media post or a travel blog.

I see it as the same.

Where before you had to hire your home travel agent to hire a local guide overseas (and know who), you can now do it all yourself via SM.

That massively improves accessibility.


This is a useless comment because it takes a wealth issue and tries to turn it into a racial issue. There are poor white people who couldn't go and rich black people who could go, so it's not even apt to say.

Not everything needs to be a matter of race, especially outside the US.

I don't think it is wrong though.

I have seen plenty of "too many tourists" complaints that were blatant xenophobia like complaining about hearing too many foreign languages or "feeling like a foreigner in their own country".

Is that not fair? People don't want tourists in their city, they want other people who are a part of the community.

I guess it depends on how it was said, but this isn't a "white people" issue, mainly because this isn't white-people-specific. I'm sure Nairobi would feel the same way about being overrun by tourists.

Except it's obviously not a wealth issue. Even poor Norwegian people can visit Norway, because they're already there. They probably don't mind poor Swedes much either. Tourist hatred is almost always rooted in xenophobia.

>especially outside the US

Funny of you to assume US is somehow more racist than the rest of the world.

Dosage matters. Many things that are completely destructive or toxic are not a problem and even beneficial and enriching in small dosage. Tourism is most definitely one of those things. Typically it benefits a very few in the host location while externalizing the destruction of the culture, the environment and the quality of life for the many that have these places as their home. So it is not about 'you' vs 'the others'. It is about the quantity of people exceeding what is a healthy balance.

> It is about the quantity of people exceeding what is a healthy balance.

As it is everywhere. If two people don't pay taxes, society functions just normally. If everybody doesn't pay taxes, there is no funding for even the most basic programs. When the argument is "a bit is fine, just not too much", the second part of the argument should always be "and here's how we determine who gets to enjoy it and who is forbidden from enjoying it".

Not just few people. These are great jobs for an uneducated population.

Did you just say 'trickle down'? Trust me, Norway is just fine without these 'Jobs, jobs, jobs!' excuses by which neoliberals try to excuse their socio-economic destructive practices.

No, I'm saying that in countries like Brazil, waiter is really decent job. Unfortunately also above average.

Same as: 'You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic'

Some of us aren’t convinced whether it’s us travelling or someone else.

Not necessarily, as you don't restrict people from entering the country, you restrict the availability of accommodations and access to certain protected area. In protected nature parks this has been done for years, you need to buy a ticket to get in, and government controls how many people can enter or even if anyone. In many protected parks some areas are completely off-limits to tourists, so that animals are not disturbed or nature destroyed. Or another example, where I live beaches get closed for tourists when turtles come ashore, and it's been done for years, no one is really upset about it. So why is this different? It's just cities instead of parks and law is protecting the local population instead of animals.

There's overtourism and then there's overtourism. Up here in Tromsø - one issue is simply fragile nature - without stone paths, people walking around here really harms the environment. Cobblestone pavements fare better.

That said, some steps are taken to provide for more visitors - but the work takes time.

> You start passing bills on restricting tourism, then the natural next step is being hard on immigration, then Brexit

It feels like a slippery slope argument.

A slippery slope argument is not necessarily wrong or poor rhetoric. It would help me understand if you would say why this is a poor use of slippery slope.

Many relationships naturally follow along a curve so pointing out this relationship should be remarkable for being wrong if you pass along some other info like maybe you think this rarely occurs, or is not logical.

> [...] in Barcelona, where 'overtourism' is a much bigger problem than in Norway IMHO [...]

We do have quite a lovely but challenging nature here. We have lots of tourists who come here unprepared and some would likely been severely hurt or even died had it not been for volunteers from red cross etc helping them.

As the number of tourists increase, we're likely to see more of these unprepared tourists. So it's not just about the numbers, but what they do when they're here.

A recent news article (in Norwegian, Google Translate does a decent enough job): https://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/gar-hardt-ut-mot-uvitende-t...

I did Trolltunga last year and I was amazed to see the amount of miserable people who thought it would be ok to walk up the thing in tennis shoes and shorts. This was in May when there was still knee deep snow in a lot of places. People were taking their dogs too which is an absolutely brutish thing to do to the dog. For those who don’t know, it’s a 10 hour hike, half of which is basically straight up a mountain. Saw at least two people get airlifted off the mountain during my hike.

Norway does a decent job of informing people at least on the hike. When you start walking there are signs that say something like “if you are at this point and it’s after 2 pm, turn back around”

It’s definitely one of those “Instagram destinations” that attract this sort of behavior. At the actual rock there were a few people flying drones around to get pictures, blatantly disregarding “No drones” signs.

Education of tourists is something that should be required in lots of other places too. Speaking from an Indian perspective, foreigners coming here should be told about what kind of food is safe to eat, what kinds of people to not trust, etc. I have come across a case where a previously healthy German visitor went back with Hepatitis C, which he got from a dodgy tattoo parlor.

Heaven forbid that people vote against alliances done and controlled by nonelected figures. What is the world coming to? It's like they suddenly hate authoritarian figures or something.

I’m sure the Barcelona based ULCC Vueling really helped those get in.

In Barecona's case it was the RyanAir booze flights from the UK that destroyed the city.

When I lived in BCN there was a certain reputation a type for British and German tourists who used the streets as a toilet. It struck me as odd that so many people seemed to view Barcelona as an "anything goes" type of city while the Catalan people are not that wild for the most part and drink socially but not to get drunk.

That is because it was and still is promoted as 'anything goes' in the UK. Google 'Stag Do Barcelona'.

My theory on british tourists is that people from uptight, repressed places are looking for somewhere to let loose. Granted the US is uptight too but we don’t have as much drunk hooliganism because we’re strict on alcohol too.

What are you talking about? The US has a huge amount of binge drinking at ages 16-22 and plenty of hooliganism, such as NFL games and holidays. I’ve lived in Barcelona and the only reason there aren’t as many drunk Americans is it’s far from most of the country.

So, just ignore the problem?

That doesn't help.

No. My point is that it's a difficult problem, one that isn't solved by building a wall, be it literally or bureaucratically.

My criticism is that this problem is hard. Should we do nothing instead? No. Just think harder.

On a side note, I wish people would stop prefacing their comments with "At the risk of being downvoted..." or "Unpopular opinion here, but..." Just state your point as clearly as you can and allow your arguments to stand or fall on their own. One of the things which drew me to HN was the lack of this kind of language, and I feel like I've seen more and more of it recently.

I completely agree, and this is already mentioned in the guidelines:

  Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

I wonder if we should add a guideline about that, a la:

Please don't comment about your own comment ('unpopular opinion here', etc). It's noise and it's boring.

We already have a guideline against talking about voting. "Unpopular opinion but here goes" or "spicy take here but" is just normal human conversation, and it doesn't actually add much noise; sometimes it's even a little useful. I wouldn't crud up the guidelines with this, but maybe refine the "commenting about voting" guideline.

I wonder how to refine the "commenting about voting" guideline?

Normal chattiness in comments is totally fine. What's tedious is "I, the noble freethinker against the hideous masses" posturing. It's also common, because of the biases in how people perceive the community; basically, anything you dislike shapes that perception 10x more than anything you like, so most people's image of the community becomes an inverse image of themselves. This leads to a lot of noise and pre-emptive defensiveness, a sense of being surrounded by enemies in a hostile place, when the reality is we're all just wandering in a big statistical cloud.

It's such a fundamental dynamic at work here, that I'd love a way to distill it into a new guideline.

"Preemptive defensiveness" hits the nail on the head for me. It's most problematic when it's the first thing in a comment, and makes it difficult for me to take the rest of the comment seriously, no matter carefully worded it is. I find it easier to write off as chatty if it's later in the comment and / or more offhanded like "... although I know that's not exactly flavour of the month on HN." The fact that it comes first carries a subtext of "I'm not really going to phrase this carefully and I don't care what you have to say," like they're already writing off anything critical that others have to say.

How about something like:

Don't try to preempt reactions by starting "At the risk of being downvoted..." or "Unpopular opinion here..." State your case clearly and let your ideas stand or fall on their own.

The problem here is that ordinary people sometimes start deep conversations with phrases like "this isn't going to win me any friends, but..." or even "candidly:".

It's natural to guideline out people (1) working the metaphorical refs with asides about voting and (2) posturing and, at the same time, implicitly disrespecting even the notion that some people might disagree with them. The former invites horrible meta conversations, the latter is uncivil and toxic.

But you don't want to go so far that people have to alter totally normal speech patterns in order to avoid some conversation tripwire that the guidelines set. If you do that, you get more pointless meta threads.

What I think you want is a guideline that says "no matter what, don't talk about how your comments are being voted, and if you must mention the feeling you have that what you're about to say is probably unpopular, do it in a nice way, and quickly". I don't know how to say that with any kind of concision.

(A lot of things would work as guidelines if they could capture the nuance of "this way of writing is fine if you assume the burden of being extra gracious about it, but not fine to do casually and thoughtlessly". But it's super hard to distill that sentiment into a guideline!)

All good points. If I was able to write guidelines that clearly I'd be a happy person! But it does feel like it's a distinct kind of approach to comments that provokes people into responding and the comment thread starts to dominate other more interesting threads further down.

I would appreciate such a guideline.

I wish people wouldn't comment about other people's comments like this. Just up or down vote, this makes for even more boring reading than the comment you mentioned. Here I am breaking my own rule because I cannot down vote your comment.

But I don't want to downvote their comment (although I don't want to upvote it either). The issue with your suggestion is that a downvote will be seen as a vote on the content of the comment. There isn't a separate "downvote for special pleading" option.

I think the current guideline on voting should be changed to "do not downvote if you disagree with the sentiment of a comment, provided it is substantive and factual". I see way too many downvoted comments that are purely statements of relevant fact, or are sincere questions. If HN members can't manage being reasonable and logical about controversial subjects, how do we ever expect the average person on the street to do so? No wonder politics is so screwed up these days.

There have been a lot of reasons put forward to justify Brexit, this is the first time I’ve heard tourism used as an excuse.

Not at all. What I meant was that Brexit mentality comes from the idea that you are entitled to decide who comes into "your country" and who doesn't. I lean towards a freer movement, but I understand that others lean towards the opposite, and it's fine. My main argument is that countries are just political constructions, and tourists may leave a destructive footprint wherever they go because they don't feel that land is "theirs".

It's a weird issue.

But it doesn't. A tourist is by definition nomadic, just there to reap some short term benefits regardless of the community's long term commitments and trade-offs. Some of them may be altruists foregoing the more destructive pleasures, others will be 100% self-centered and grab everything they can without a single fink given. There is some carrying capacity under which the impacts can be absorbed without straining the community. Above that it can only end into a race to the bottom.

It's just wrong though - Brexit has been driven by anti-immigration desires but without ever talking about or trying to restrict tourism.

Every country makes a distinction between temporary and permanent entry.

All they have to do is allow the immigration of violent sects. Overtourism problem solved.

Trying to curb mass tourism leads to Brexit?

Are you one of those people that claims eating a candybar leads to intravenous heroin use?

I can't find much in the article about limiting tourism, except the two non-impactful items below. Am I missing something?

> For 2019, the Norwegian Environmental Agency has a budget of $1.2 million to award grants to local areas to fortify existing trails or build new ones to accommodate increased visitor numbers.

> Svalbard has taken a number of measures to manage its tourism, including banning cruise ships carrying heavy oil from national-park perimeters, avoiding worldwide marketing, developing wilderness experiences closer to Longyearbyen to reduce carbon-emitting snowmobile tours, and working on ways to extend the average visitor stay to increase per-capita spending and decrease transportation carbon emissions to the islands.

It's interesting to see countries work so hard to developing the tourism and than reaching a point where they can't stop it

I lived in Amsterdam for a year and you can't walk in the city center without drunk/high people around you

I was completely fine with it, but I know that many people who live in the heart of amsterdam that their life changed once they tourist raised

What people should realize is that when the tourist is high in a city/country it doesn't mean that all the people of the country benefit from it.

Only the owners of shops and services around the tourist industry and in many cases it's a pretty centralised industry

I live in a city that has had an explosion of tourism in the last 10 years. I don't benefit from it financially (if anything, the rents have shoot up considerably because of it), but it looks to me like it has been the main reason why the city doesn't feel empty and dead after 21h. I'm not sure I would be living here were it not for the side-effects of tourism.

dont you think you benefit from the fact your city's government has more money to spend due to all the taxes collected from tourists' consumption/visits?

Theoretically, it would be possible. But there are several reasons why I don't think of it as financially beneficial:

1) Rent and all cafes/bars/restaurants are significantly more expensive.

2) Most of the consumption is taxed via VAT, which goes directly to national government.

3) Both local city government and national government are corrupt hellholes which are certain to misuse any funds that come their way.

Edit: To be clear, I mean financially beneficial from "live in this particular city" perspective. On national level, tourism is such a high percentage of GDP that it's the only thing keeping the country alive. And we're in for a hell of ride if we stop being a desirable destination.

It's not just a matter of "oops we touristed our city", global wealth has skyrocketed in the last few decades, with a skewed distribution that vastly increased the number of people that can afford to travel.

(when I say skyrocketed, I mean it. Per household wealth has more than doubled even as the population has increased)

buffet makes money in the sodas , and countries make money from tourists with overpriced souvenirs, overpriced hotels and over hyped landmarks. Ever wondered how all these world heritage org people get their funding. If all of a sudden people just want to roam around the country side and instagram everything than how the hell will the country make money , not to mention you might become a strain on the well fare system (low water electricity bill) just by virtue of staying there for more than the required time.

Maybe if the source countries of the tourists could realize that if they liberalized their own country, their citizens wouldn’t dream of leaving so much just to walk around high.

But I have my doubts.

> Maybe if the source countries of the tourists could realize that if they liberalized their own country, their citizens wouldn’t dream of leaving so much just to walk around high.

Are you implying that no tourists visit Amsterdam from such liberal places, or that the only reason people go to Amsterdam is for drug tourism? Or something else?

California has legalized marijuana but if you visit Amsterdam you’ll see hella Californians. I think, in general, folks visit Amsterdam for lots of reasons. It’s kind of a well known city, and once one of the big cities of a massive empire.

Where did I said “no” or “only”?

Point is, if a city has a reputation for having a high proportion of its tourists roaming around visibly high, they’re inexperienced (or got higher than they could at home ).

Experienced high-quality marijuana users blend in a lot better.

> Experienced high-quality marijuana users blend in a lot better.

Ah I think your point was originally lost on me but now it has landed. Visibly high == inexperienced, more inexperienced points to the notion that people come to the place in order to experience it (possibly among other things). I can see that and agree in that light.

I'm glad they're approaching it in a way beyond just "make everything more expensive". It's interesting how when it comes to climate change, a lot of the same people who are otherwise committed to egalitarian ideals immediately jump to "just charge more" as a solution for everything. I'm not saying those kind of policies can't be a piece of the solution, but I really don't see it being effective to tell all but the rich to bike to work and take on vegan diets and give up out of town vacations and stop using a/c, etc. Sure that would probably be effective, but expecting that level of asceticism out of people is just going to push them into the arms of the political parties who tell them "climate change is fake, so take that vacation and don't worry".

"Just make it more expensive" is the right answer to overtourism!

Well, Norway is already one of the most expensive countries in the world, second only to Switzerland.

Speaking as a tourist, Norway makes Switzerland look cheap. Even the Swiss complain about the beer price in Norway!

People will still go even if it's expensive, even if it causes emissions. People are irrational, economists have struggled with this fact of psychology for years.

Whenever I hear about "sustainable tourism" developments like Ousland's, I can't help but think about the huge amount of emissions caused by people getting there in the first place. I bet the vast majority of visitors fly into Tromsø. It feels a bit like painting the walls while the house is falling down around you.

I’ve lived in Oslo for six years now and repeatedly talked myself out visiting Tromsø for a long weekend because of this.

At some point I need to accept that it’s really the primary way to get around the north.

I think the answer is clear, if not a bit brutal: raise prices for tourists.

Tourism is a luxury, not a right, and if there is a perceived negative externality to Norway from overtourism, it should be mitigated in the market. There will be fewer people who are willing to go to Trolltunga if they are not a Norwegian resident and the price of entry is $200.

Sidenote: I lived in Norway for a few years, gorgeous place but it does need to be preserved to keep its integrity.

Why should travel be the exclusive domain of the wealthy?

Low cost travel & tourism are _not_ rights. They're privileges. Seems fair to include negative externalities in the cost. If that excludes some people, so be it. They can travel closer to home.

And again: why should those privileges be reserved to the wealthy?

There are much more basic rights not being met across the globe before we can afford worrying about everybody having a yacht, a personal jet and close up time with Mona Lisa.

That's not answering the question.

The other options besides increasing price would be:

- lottery (example: powerball)

- waiting list (case: Alcatraz, Coachella)

- application based on xx criteria (case: Antarctica?)

or... a combination of the five (price being #5). In most of these cases, money is still involved. Why? I think it's b/c it takes funding to administer, maintain, and improve the attractions. So maybe pricing isn't the only option.


These are at least fair relative to wealth / income.

And are frequently used for access to overutilised natural areas (e.g., lotteries, day-of-activity permits, waitlists).

Though the question about fairness of price-based rationing still hasn't been answered ;-)

That is more of an indication that this unfairness exist in areas significantly more critical than ability to travel to popular spots than an answer, yes. I think we should be looking for answers in those areas (closer to being "rights") instead.

This is not a whataboutism either, unless you can put that label on trying to focus on major showstoppers that bring whole system down before light cosmetic defects.

The specific proposal, price-gating of access to notable tourist landmarks, directly and out of no fundamental necessity simply creates yet another wealth-based inequality.

There's a difference between addressing greater wrongs, and questioning the creation of yet another instance.

Travel involves real costs: flights, hotels, transport. How would you arrange a system where travel is allocated to everyone regardless of wealth?

Setting the price of a limited, nonfungible, price-inelastic good according to demand is the very definition of rent-seeking.

There are, of course, alternatives to top tourism destinations. But allocating access to the top destinations on price alone, and where that price does not relate to underlying costs, strikes me as the essence of unfairness.

But an American travelling from the other side of the world emits a ton more CO2 than someone coming from Sweden, so just raising local prices don’t take into account the externalities.

Why is "overtourism" even considered a problem? Just start advertising new destinations somewhere else in the country, raise the prices at the original overwhelmed destination and take profit.

There are many places that: 1. Can only accommodate a certain number of people with the available infrastructure 2. Certain places lose their magic when too crowded, they become unenjoyable

Many of these places are where you can't charge an admission or limit attendance easily.

They could go the way of Bhutan and charge each tourist $250 per day. Would clear things up nicely.

There's no silver bullet. Tackling overtourism means limiting the number of tourists. One way to do that is to impose high enough prices.

This problem has been solved a long time ago by the Departments of Fish and Wildlife for hunting and fishing. A lottery that is tied to an identity, no transfer allowed. Psuedo-RNG, so that each time you enter the lottery and are not selected, your chance to be selected increases next time. The money from the lotteries are used to help conserve the resource that they draw on. Example: https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/bighorn-sheep-lottery-tag-raise...

This is not a new or unique problem, and hunters and fishers figured out the solution a long time ago. This could easily be applied to local, state, and national parks. Well, easily is perhaps not the correct word, but there is a known solution to the problem that _can_ be implemented.

EDIT: Hunters and fishers figured this out because they fucked up big time and nearly eradicated large populations of animals (see Bison). They (or the D of F & W's) realized they had to do things differently if they wanted to sustainably continue to hunt && fish.

Why would the people of Norway, Barcelona, Venice, or anywhere else make efforts to ensure foreigners can visit cheaply?

It may make sense for your own citizens to visit irrespective of money, but I would want foreigners to have as much as is needed to keep the number of visitors under control.

I think we'll get there at very famous, very limited places like Venice.

Another way would be to charge a modest lottery entrance fee and limit the number of winners to a sensible quota.

Rationing is not a very fair way to distribute goods or services to people. Some people may value it just enough to pay the entry fee, while others might value it a lot more, but now they have the same chances of receiving it. If you prohibit people from on-selling their tickets, then you also causes losses when people change their minds but are already locked in by the lottery.

This kind of argument only works if everybody has the same amount of money (or other tokens) to spend.

In the real world, market prices for this kind of thing simply select for rich people, not for who values the experience the most.

The value of something (especially a luxury like travel) is literally how much you'd be willing to spend on it.

"Value" is an extremely overloaded word. Even within the narrow universe of money, economics, and finance, there are many different notions of value (e.g. market value, book value, replacement value). More broadly, what most people intuitively understand as value is independent of money and hard to quantify, but that doesn't make it less important.

I do appreciate that people want to make something as important as value quantifiable, but like all measurements there are pitfalls, and I merely pointed out a rather important pitfall when attempting to measure value using money.

> Rationing is not a very fair way to distribute goods or services to people.


No one said life was fair. There is no human-right to vacation in a given destination. I have to apply for lottery hunts for various game animal in my state. It's just a means of controlling scarce resource.

> then you also causes losses when people change their minds but are already locked in by the lottery.

Good! Better be sure you wish to take part.

It's not a perfect solution, granted, but it's less likely to result in implicit selection of only the wealthiest people.

Why is that a problem? Plenty of resources are allocated to meet supply and demand. Is traveling to specific locations inherently different?

It depends on the values of the host society. They may want to promote democratic access to their country.

What does "democratic access to their country" even mean? The tourists visiting their country don't vote, so you don't mean literally. And any random rationing system you put in place will be inherently unfair in some dimension.

The work "democratic" does not always directly relate to governing a country, but also making something accessible to all without unnecessary limitations - similar to the right to vote.

> similar to the right to vote

Do I as non-citizen have a right to vote in whatever country I want, just because I have an opinion on the matter being voted? Access to citizenship is also limited by descent, wealth, or your conscientiousness. It is also ‘unfair’ if you interpret this word as ‘not instantly accessible to anyone who expresses interest’.

For this point: "If you prohibit people from on-selling their tickets, then you also causes losses when people change their minds but are already locked in by the lottery."

You could just have a return program. 30 days out it is free, 10 days out and you pay a small percentage but get your money back. You don't need to rely on selling tickets to others to get your money back

But if you lock it down by pricing out average travelers, that's not fair either.

Aside from the fairly large costs involved in running multiple large international lotteries, you'd have to build checkpoints around massive areas, stop people from buying tickets off of the winners somehow, deal with the corruption issues, and other exciting unintended side effects.

All because a tax on a luxury (which tourism certainly is), wasn't fair enough.

Actually, lottery is how they do it for various exclusive/special destinations & tours in Japan and it seem to be working in their case.

This is used for rides on the Yamanashi maglev test tracks, tours to the Kurobe gorge railway upper track and other places with inherently limtted capacity.

Scalpers in that market would be intense haha. Legal or not, people would find a way to make market prices

This is why tickets have to be nominative and identity checking enforced.

And then only the wealthy may have holidays.

Holidays doesn't mean "travelling to another country in a plane" or "let's take a credit to tour Italy".

Quite true but if some can and some can’t the social class implications will be picked up on very fast, whether the reason is money or political connections.

People will find a way to separate themselves into classes no matter what. And those of higher class will separate themselves from the proles using any means available.

Even in Soviet Union the running joke was that all people are equal, but some people are more equal than others.

There is another running joke "Everyone is born equal, then God sort them out".

Yes it does, "holidays" is interchangeable with "vacation" in some English speaking countries.

Vacation doesn't mean "travelling to another country in a plane" or "let's take a credit to tour Italy" either.

And poor people can go to Estonia or Sweden, or whatever other nordic nation. I think humanity might survive only rich people being able to go to Norway.

That's how it is now, from a global perspective.

This unfortunately pleases the state, the tourist service providers and the wealthy.

All three of them not being particularly known for their respect of culture, tradition and delicate (eco)systems.


The wealthy are less well-known for their respect of culture, tradition and delicate ecosystems than the not wealthy?

You cannot limit the number of visitors and let everyone have this sort of holidays.

The most beneficial way to limit the number of visitors for local communities is to increase prices.

If they want to reserve a number of places for people to be able to visit at a low(er) cost (e.g. through a lottery) then good for them, but there is no entitlement to go on holidays to others' countries or to unique places.

>The most beneficial way to limit the number of visitors for local communities is to increase prices. //

Can you expand on that, it doesn't seem self-evident to me.

I'm assuming that the money goes to the local communities (even countries).

If it does then it seems quite obvious that more money is better than less money.

Sell me your brain?

It seems like communities can be ruined by richer tourists in ways that not so rich tourists won't. For example, in Pembrokeshire and areas of Devon some communities have been partially replaced by clusters of second-homes because rich people like to have their holidays there. Locals can no longer afford to live there because they lack the wealth to outbid incomers. Maybe that's not quite in scope for "tourism".

I can imagine other issues, like facilities being tailored to richer people (all your green spaces get turned into golf courses, or whatever, all the pubs cost a fortune); teachers, services workers and such can't afford to live locally.

Richer people maybe cause more environmental damage? 3 cars, private plane, large concreted property, ..., yes at a holiday home, as one goes further up-market?

Perhaps good if you want to work in service industries.

> 3 cars, private plane, large concreted property, ..., yes at a holiday home, as one goes further up-market?

What? We are discussing visitors on holidays, not people moving in or buying second homes.

Isn't it a progression?

Norway is already very expensive to visit

It really isn’t. Between the existence of Norwegian Airlines and the fact that the Norwegian crown is hovering at 9 to a dollar, flights are almost never over $200 one-way from New York and it’s now cheaper for an American to drink an Aperol Spritz here than in Manhattan.

in overcrowded locations that have reached their maximum capacity.

> One way to do that is to impose high enough prices.

Norway is already too expensive for us (a German lower middleclass family).

Alternatively we could try to make them not all go to the same few spots, ie make more spots tourist friendly.

With the current state of the environment I think that keeping areas that do not see many people that way is more important than indulging people's desire for holidays.

Travel tends to decrease xenophobia and increase empathy and cultural understanding among those who do it. I worry that some of the use of environmental impact is a "concern troll" cover to call for restrictions is the result of more deeply seated xenophobic feelings.

Tourism is increasing because billions of people have been lifted out of poverty, especially Chinese, and now they want to experience what those in the West have experienced for decades with their disposable income. Now that the formerly poor have the money to travel, I expect more people complaining about the tourists, e.g. a big bus of Chinese pulls up in a small town, some kid vandalizes something or some people leave trash, and a stereotype that "these people" trash the town emerges.

(I'd also say Americans don't travel enough, less than 1/3rd have traveled abroad, and some of this ignorance bolsters American exceptionalism, because until you see how bad shape your infrastructure is in, or how good healthcare, health, and public safety is in other countries, you have no context to be skeptical of some of the crazy political assertions thrown around)

I always find it really strange because chances are that by the time you get to the most touristy places you’ve utterly failed at expanding your mind to any real extent. Furthermore, it isn’t even necessary to travel-

If you’re a city person, vacation on a farm where you pay to try and help out with the farm chores. If you’re a rural dweller live in a city like Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago. If you live in the north, travel to the south, vice versa. Swing by Buffalo or Rochester. Entertain Ithaca. Explore philly.

It might not even need to require travel. Volunteer for refugee crisis centers. Volunteer for elder care. Volunteer for child care. Volunteer for wildlife care. Raise a baby bird. Go to a reptile exhibit. Go fishing. Go to an anime convention. Go to a furry convention.

It really depends on how you travel. Tour bus excursions are one thing, but when you're young, backpacking and biking through another country, or doing foreign exchange or student travel programs gives you much more exposure. Consider the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Programme in Europe for example.

However, even traveling to touristy places can expand your mind. I recently spent 3 weeks in Ecuador, it completely changed my mind about the country and burst all of my pre-conceived nations, and I say this as someone who has already been to Columbia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, et al.

For an American who thinks other countries are "shitholes" and that other people "live in huts", even a touristy tourbus experience can burst your bubble.

This seems to be more about carbon footprint and sustainability than "overtourism"?

Does all the oil Norway extract count towards their carbon balance, or is that the consuming country's problem? Norway just collect the profit, to pay for all this green cleansing at home?

Yes (it counts). We're (also) hard into the green certificates shell game;we should stop extracting fossil fuels . We're one of the few nations that could realistically stop.

Hopefully Norway thinks about other countries as highly as they think of Norway.

— sincerely, an Aussie who lived in Norway for 2 years, and protested against Statoil ('Equinor') trying to get oil off the southern coast of Australia.

I'd certainly like us to cease exploitation abroad too (we're helping with some horrendous abuse in Africa, for example).

But not helping with colonial/foreign exploits would mostly just be a change of funding/profit (eg BP would take over Equinor projects) - while a ban on fossil fuel extraction in Norway would seal up those resources.

they are looking at cutting down on oil https://www.worldoil.com/news/2019/9/10/voters-deliver-warni...

Well, the article states:

"In March, the Norwegian government announced it will gradually divest its shares in companies engaged in the exploration and extraction of oil and gas. (But it will still invest in companies that refine and sell oil.)"

I'm not really sure how you reconcile these two things - a policy of carbon footprint reduction while actively investing in companies whose business is predicated on oil consumption.

Its green theater - they have no intention to actually do anything that will stop pumping the oil from Norway.

I agree with Donella Meadows that top leverage points of changing systems are its beliefs and goals https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_leverage_points.

Once the idea of humans flying was beyond fantasy, now we consider it beyond a right but a necessity. We believe nature is elsewhere, not where we live, and contribute to local degradation, dreaming that we'll experience it elsewhere, but flying or taking a cruise ship there.

Without tackling the beliefs and goals driving the system -- the unbridled sense of entitlement, irresponsibility for how one's actions hurt others, the disdain for reducing growth and maintaining wilderness where we live -- we're rearranging the deck chairs of a sinking ship. Humans lived for hundreds of thousands of years before flight and they weren't all miserable.

I propose promoting staycations, camping, biking, sailing, gardening, and other ways of experiencing diversity with less pollution and more empathy and compassion. But most of all promoting beliefs and goals other than you must fly to be happy. That a great life comes from appreciating where you are. That flying and cruises are dirty. Etc.

The world is too big and beautiful to see everything. When I got that, I realized my best strategy was to enjoy here, now, us wherever I am. Then I didn't need to travel so much despite getting more out of life.

Minor correction, the guy's name is Børge Ousland, not Borge.

It's not minor, the implications of such mistakes are enormous (especially in the days of easy copy-pasting, semi-universal support for utf8 on the web, and plenty of ways to do research) on a cultural level.

Poor journalism and disdain for what's foreign, the ASCII way. Vae victis.

I guess it should be 艾未未 rather than Ai Weiwei then...

I'm pretty much sure he'd be happy with Ài Wèiwèi

It's often the same with German names/words. Ü/U, etc are absolutely not the same and not equivalent. Leaving out the two dots on top of the U changes the whole word/meaning. Ü would be equivalently written as ue.

I've always wondered if German speakers are generally ok with "ue"?

I've seen it used on URL's

"Enormous"? No, not really, it's more of a nice to have. As a native speaker of an umlauty Nordic language, if you drop the umlauts, it's virtually always quite easy and in fact almost effortless to work out which words is being referred to from context.

It can be easy to overlook. For instance I was curious about this TLD the other day

.xn--6frz82g or .移动

Not sure how apt I would be to remember the English version or know which characters those are to type it in the native dialect.

Really the "problem" of overtourism feels like a stack of pretenses but it does bring to mind an issue of concentration and trying to make a system to help coordinate information on crowding, prices, etc. and lead tourist distribution to become more even which would be a bit more optimal for all involved both for enjoyment of tourists and infastructure return on investment and reliability of industries. It almost sounds like a job for travel agencies except for the obsolescence of their model.

Maybe it is not the case at hand in Norway, but what I see around (Italy, Florence) is not as much as "overtourism" but rather "impolite tourism", i.e. tourism by masses of people that for whatever reasons lack the bare minimum of common sense and polite behaviour.

The large numbers are of course part of the problem, but it would be minimized if tourists were behaving more properly.

Same problem in Thailand. When mainland Chinese first started coming to Thailand in large numbers there was an outcry about their terrible behavior. After a while the tour operators arranged for them to mostly go places where they don't mingle with the locals. Except the really famous places like Maya Bay got totally overrun - they just couldn't say no to the profits, despite the trashing of what made it so attractive. Eventually the place was shutdown to tourism for some period. https://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/advanced/1029745/phi-ph...

i should thing norway doesnt have a problem with tourism it has a problem with "nature toursim" it has a problem with tourists not paying any money to stay or explore. And im sure they might make some bull argument about sustianability. truth is people in tents will probably cause less damage than a climate controled carbon neutral lodge.

If they want to reduce over tourism in Norway, they could publish a list of "secret gems" in Finland. Sort of how Japanese banks would park money in competing banks because it cost money to hold it.

This is an excellent idea. I have family in rural Finland and prefer it to Norway. Also: Helsinki is overtouristed too by cruise ships and could benefit from some spreading out of interest. The tourist infrastructure is already there ( I just returned from driving around the Kuopio/Oulu/Aaland/Turku regions).

The problem is mass tourism, not tourists. I’ve lived I two of the biggest cruise destinations in Norway, and that kind of tourism is terrible. Hundreds of mostly middle aged and old people overflow the city for a few hours and spending next to nothing as their cruise is all inclusive. Maybe they will hop on a bus for a guided tour to see all the sights in two hours. All the while the cruise ship is alongside port spewing exhaust all over the city. This is not sustainable. I take 500 German motorhomes driving 20 km/h below the speed limit instead of a cruise ship.

Cruises need to die, they’re horrible for the environment and local economies.

This is an Ad. For tourism.

Standing room only at Maya Bay in Thailand. https://static.bangkokpost.com/media/content/20160707/c1_102...

Same effect. Made famous by a Hollywood movie. Now everybody has to say they have been there. It is (was) nice. But there are hundreds of other equally nice beaches and bays in the country.

If you consider the fact that the Sherpas do all the work for the vast majority of people "climbing" everest, they may as well just install a climate-controlled elevator to the top, charge money to vastly more visitors, and give the Sherpas a break.

I mean this is great, but how about stopping the pumping of oil if you are really serious about carbon?

All of this is a snowflake on top of an iceberg compared to the massive amount of carbon they are exporting every year.

This is somewhat ironic because I am served ads to visit Norway constantly

Overtourist is a paradox

Once they will solve this problem, they will try to chaise it again

No it's not. Tourism changes not just prices but character. Consider the recent controversy over the line at Mount Everest. Queueing in line of 100 people so that you can have a minute or two at the summit to take your picture is not the same experience as what you would've gotten climbing Mount Everest 40 years ago. It's this, the destruction of character/experience, what the thing actually is, that is the primary symptom of overtourism.

Who was chasing more tourism for Everest?

This seems more like it's a side effect of the rock climbing fad than a countries' tourism board balancing their national tourism.

So? It’s a different experience, maybe even a worse one (though that’s pretty subjective), but a lot more people get to have it.

Let's look at the article:

>Surging visitor numbers are threatening Norway’s reigning principle of allemannsretten—the freedom to roam, a concept popular across all of Scandinavia. The thousand-year-old government policy states that individuals, as long as they are polite, can legally walk through any piece of undeveloped property and camp for one night without first obtaining the owner’s permission. This right has worked well for centuries, but in recent years, communities across the country are increasingly suffering from littering, human waste, and overzealous Instagrammers.

So allemannsretten is threatening to be extinguished because it's a concept that doesn't scale. This is the threat of tourism, experiences which cannot scale are extinguished or priced out of reach of the average person/family. I think if tourism actually was good in the sort of utilitarian sense you're endorsing you wouldn't see pushback.

> So allemannsretten is threatening to be extinguished because it's a concept that doesn't scale.

While I agree with your main point, I think it’s important to note that this is about a handful of hotspots like Trolltunga and Pulpit Rock. I can’t see any Scandinavian politician seriously suggesting to abolish allemannsretten as such, and Norway has thousands and thousands of square kilometres where it is working just fine.

Sounds like it would be better to create extremely high fines. Idiotic "influencers" should be bankrupted for adding nothing to society and spreading waste.

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