Shaping Sustainable Tourism In Monterey County
“Overtourism has impacted places like the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, where Games of Thrones was filmed. But it also pushed that destination to manage the industry more mindfully. Now in Monterey County, there’s also a push to shape the tourism industry in a more sustainable way.
Bixby Bridge has become a must-see spot on the Big Sur coast. Its concrete arches overlook the vast Pacific Ocean. Car commercials are filmed here and the bridge is featured in the opening credits of the popular HBO TV series Big Little Lies. Pictures of Bixby Bridge are all over social media apps like Instagram.
Even on a rainy weekday, dozens of tourists pull over to take selfies. Alejandro Munoz is visiting from Southern California.
“I saw it on Google, looked it up. I saw it on Instagram. I saw it on my cousin’s Snapchat. I was like I got to go here,” Munoz says.
Sometimes visitors take risks to get the perfect picture, like getting too close to steep cliffs.
“It’s a little muddy right now. So it’s a little slippery,” Munoz says.
That kind of behavior worries Butch Kronlund. He’s the Executive Director of the Community Association of Big Sur and has lived in Big Sur for nearly 30 years.
“Big Sur is a wild coast and folks get themselves in trouble all of the time. In the process of trying to get to a secluded location, they end up damaging the very resource that they’re there to look at. So that’s also a problem,” says Kronlund.
To improve tourist behavior, a group of Big Sur residents created the “Big Sur Pledge.” It’s posted online at bigsurpledge.org. The goal is to remind people to respect this popular wilderness destination. It asks them to commit to sharing the road, leaving no trace, camping only where allowed. The pledge is modeled after Hawai’i’s Pono Pledge.”
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