Tourist Tuesday, 4/2/19: Turismophobia

From the same article quoted on Thursday: “The Spanish have a name for the reaction of locals against overtourism which is turismofobia.”

“By August [2017] the headlines declared that ‘tourists are no longer welcome’, and ‘residents hate tourists’ in these angry tourist hotspots. Meanwhile local governments took measures to appease residents and restore order.

In Barcelona, moratorium on the creation of new hotel rooms and tourist flats in key areas of the city has already been in place for a number of years. In Milan a ban on selfie-sticks was introduced around certain landmarks, while Rome launched a crack-down on littering and paddling in public fountains.” (

Barcelona and Venice have taken a “punishing” approach by forbidding selfie-sticks, and fining tourists, while Amsterdam has taken a redirectingor “guiding” approach. Here is what the panel member from Amsterdam had to say:

”In 2013, we already knew that because the world economy was growing so fast, and traveling became so cheap, that the amount of people visiting our city would be too much to service in a way that didn’t harm our locals, because in the end that’s our main goal: to keep the city livable, lovable, and prosperous. So we quit promoting tourism, but there was social media. There are so many still promoting our city. And on the one hand, it makes us feel proud, because who are we? We’re the lucky people that can live in this most beautiful city in the world. On the other hand, it makes it hard because you know it will attract more people.

So we try to focus away from marketing, and instead focus on guiding. We’re an open and free country, an open city, and we would love to invite people who save their money and time to visit everything that’s valuable in our city. Only again, we want to do it in a way so that it will not harm the local people.

There are two factors—one is antisocial behavior, especially in the red light district. Visitors come and couldn’t care less where they are, they just drink their heads off. That’s a real problem. To fight that problem we have to meet with police, law enforcement, to nudge travelers, saying that of course they’re welcome and we are a city of freedom, but freedom is based on one condition and that is respect for each other and the city. The other factor is too many people in a certain spot at a certain time. If you’re in the city for the first time, you go to the highlights. In Barcelona, you want to see the Sagrada Familia. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower. But we also know that a lot of people who come to the city are repeat visitors or are Dutch, so we can guide them much more easily to other unknown spots. We have to make sure we can spread tourism but not spread the problem. Other neighborhoods are welcoming to visitors, but up to a certain point.

ME: I thought this was interesting, you did simple things. Amsterdam Beach for example or extending the range of the CityPass so it was free to get outside of the city.

GU: You have to facilitate. It starts from the perspective of the traveler. If I go to Paris, it’s easy for me to go to Versailles. Versailles is not Paris, it’s a different city, but I don’t care. We know from data that people are willing to travel for an hour if they find something of interest. That is why we collaborated with 32 other cities around Amsterdam to ask about their unique spots, and make sure visitors could get there with public transport. We all know that people are becoming more and more lazy—they want to be serviced! If you have to transfer twice, you’re not going to go. So we have a city card and we make sure all of the museums in the other cities are on the card as well, so you make it 10 times easier to go off the beaten track.

ME: I thought this was a brilliant idea: live feeds of the lines outside museums that you could check on the website, so before you go somewhere you can say, “oh that’s busy, I’ll check later.” That to me is so obvious but only you were smart enough. It’s a win-win!”


(To be continued…)


One thought on “Tourist Tuesday, 4/2/19: Turismophobia

  1. I’d support a worldwide ban on Selfie Sticks! Or at least on Highway 1 (I’ve been stuck way too many times along Highway 1 behind a slowly moving rental Mustang convertible in which a Selfie Stick was being used).

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