I wrote this on my Facebook, but since I’m definitely more of a blog kind of guy than a social media maven (as you can tell by the number of likes inversely proportionate to the number of words), here goes:
Places like Amsterdam, Venice, Lisbon and even our own Athens are experiencing overtourism. We all know what it’s about: “the phenomenon of a popular destination or sight becoming overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way”, according to the Collins dictionary. This word didn’t exist before 2016, and one popular newspaper said that it should be “the word of the year 2018”.
Overtourism means that not only do popular destinations become less appealing, but also locals find that this blessing is actually a curse in disguise that destroys their quality of life. It might sound like a first world problem (sort of like overconsumption), until of course it is your city that is hit by overtourism. Then, all of a sudden, rent becomes impossible to afford, small businesses disappear and your neighborhood turns into a theme park geared to satisfy the needs of the visitors, not the residents.
Thankfully, we don’t have to be part of the problem just by fulfilling our urge to explore. Here’s an initiative to help spread tourism around the world to places that really need our time, attention, money and understanding. The global ‘underdogs’ in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia deserve to be our next travel destinations as much as any of the ultra-popular “musts” that could really do without us.
I’m writing all this because we just launched a crowdfunding campaign at bravely independent Spotted by Locals. Do you like what we’re doing? I’d be very grateful if you can contribute and / or share. You’ll also get a good deal in return, especially if you consider yourself a demanding, mindful traveller.
I’ve been an Athens Spotter for Spotted by Locals since 2013, and the network’s editor since last year, and I can vouch for them. I was with them yesterday, helped them shoot the video below. It’s not just that I have the good fortune to work with Bart & Sanne closely: these guys have a brilliant, caring vision about a sustainable, no-borders world, and I truly want this campaign to become a success.
Check it out here: https://igg.me/at/spottedbylocals and thank you so much for caring for the future of local travel!