Let’s face it, the tourist industry needs a complete overhaul. Most town and city tourist sites are still very outdated, recommending zoos and donkey rides (millions of parents no longer support them), city farms (which often are more for tourism than animal welfare), and recommending fast food chains, over local indie shops and restaurants. Also see tips to help hotels go zero waste.
Overtourism is the new term coined, both for local areas and worldwide. It’s a huge source of income for many places, but could be done so much better. Just like chain stores being replaced by local shops, increasingly large package holiday companies (many of which still happily send their customers off to watch bullfights in Spain) are being replaced by local tour guides and those who know the area, rather than outsourcing to big money.
ToursByLocals is a worldwide company, where people earn money by becoming tour guides to tourists. Instead of using big companies, this company employs local people who know the area well, and can tell others the best indie haunts and where to go, rather than always directing them to shopping centres, zoos and aquariums. And rather than be on a bus, they tend to walk local people around too, much more personal.
Tourists arriving to a destination just message a guide that they like, then receive a message back, and they arrange to meet. Once the guide confirms availability the tourists pay the guide online, and use a messaging system to stay in touch. Launched in Vancouver, there are now branches worldwide, with our office being in Glasgow, Scotland.
The company has no power for whether the guides or tourists want to see animal attractions, but the company has created its own animal welfare policy, to avoid activities that encourage harmful behaviour. This includes viewing wild or captive animals (including zoos, aquariums, farms and sanctuaries) and tours which include using animals as transport (like horse and carriage rides).
If you would like to be a local tour guide, you must agree to deliver tours in a friendly professional manner and respond quickly within 24 hours to enquiries and booking requests. In return, ToursByLocals offers tools and training and handles all customer payments and marketing, and protects you in the event of late-notice cancellations or no-show customers. You also have access to a 24-hour emergency hotline. The company charges no upfront or ongoing fees, just a percentage of actual tour bookings.
Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future is a book that does the opposite to what most local towns and tourist boards do: crowds en-masse can harm local natural environments, and also make daily life unbearable for residents of popular travel destinations. It’s fine to bring in income from sustainable tourism, but basing it all on your local town’s economy, is asking for trouble. As COVID proved, it can then fall like a house of cards, if that’s all you’ve got (say no local manufacturing, organic farms or small shops). Overtourism leads to a world of overrun monuments, littered beaches and gridlocked streets. Why not do things differently, this time?
This book charts a way towards a better kind of tourism, that is not just sustainable but regenerative for the places we love, and those who live there. Bringing together tourism officials, city council members, travel journalists and more, this practical book looks at how a town can make money from tourism, without overcrowding or damage to planet and wildlife. It looks at five types of tourist destinations:
- Historic cities
- National parks & protected areas
- World Heritage Sites
- Beaches & coastal communities
- Destinations governed locally (like villages)
While each location has its own challenges, common themes emerge: visitor education, traffic planning and redirection to lesser-known sites to protect the economic benefit of tourism, without overwhelming local communities. As tourism revives around the world, these innovations can help to protect the planet, while also protecting livelihoods.