Mindfulness can sometimes be a tough thing to practice, especially when you’re overwhelmed with client requests, building your business and conducting the daily requirements of your travel agent job.
However, when it comes to overtourism, the benefits of being mindful about this aspect of the travel industry can go a long way toward helping the environment and improving your travel agent business.
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What is Overtourism?
Overtourism occurs when a destination receives too many tourists which in turn negatively affects the destination. The negative effects could include putting pressure on local water or natural resources, favoring holiday rentals over the housing needs of locals, worsening traffic infrastructure, harming wildlife or natural environments, or even making the tourist attractions unbearable due to crowding.
Places like the Galapagos Islands, Mallorca, Amsterdam, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Santorini, Iceland, Bali, Barcelona, Venice, and Mount Everest are just some of the destinations and attractions suffering from overtourism.
Overtourism doesn’t just hurt locals; it diminishes the travel experience that travelers can have, which could, in turn, result in poor travel experiences by your clients. To ensure that your clients have the best possible experience without contributing to overtourism, there are a few simple things you can do.
Consider Low or Off-Season Travel
Every attraction or destination has a high (or peak) season and a low season. During high season, the destination is overcome with hordes of tourists which puts a lot of strain on the environment and the local community. However, during the low season, a place suffering from overtourism is more likely to see fewer tourists, reducing the impact that overtoursim has on the area.
If your client is determined to see a destination or an attraction, try to suggest that they visit during low season. Not only will this alleviate overtourism at that destination, but your client will most likely find it more affordable to visit.
Offer Unique, Off-the-Beaten-Path Alternatives
If your services involve creating in-depth itineraries, you have the power to suggest or include destinations that don’t suffer from overtourism. These destinations are generally “under-the-radar,” “off-the-beaten-path” attractions or places that most tourists don’t know about.
Do the extra research, find these places, and suggest them to your clients. Some tourism boards are pushing travelers to visit less-discovered destinations. For instance, the Travel Authority of Thailand is promoting “Emerging Destinations” in 2019 and they’re informing travel agents about these destinations via their Thai the Knot app.
Not only can you battle overtourism by offering amazing alternatives, but you may be offering your client a more memorable and unique travel experience compared to a trip to an overcrowded attraction or destination.
Trust Your Client and Present Them With the Facts
Study after study reveals that travelers are considering the ethics of travel when booking their vacation. They want to travel in ways that are eco-friendly and ethical.
For travel agents, that means keeping those studies in mind and tailoring your services to fit with this new trend in travel. If you’re aware that a destination is suffering from overtourism, tell your client and provide them with an alternative to replace that destination.
Give them the option to choose whether or not to visit the place suffering from the massive crowds. You may be surprised how more and more of your clients want to do their part in protecting environments and communities around the world.