I ended my multi-year discussion of overtourism in Big Sur through my Tourist Tuesday posts sometime ago and how it relates to other destinations in the world. It seemed to be on a trajectory where nothing could be done. I am not convinced, one way or the other, that it is a problem than will be solved, only that it must. Unsustainable population translates into unsustainable tourism, which in turn contributes more than its share to climate change. As we know from other studies, systems here on this finite planet are intimately interwoven and interconnected. Overtourism is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The Atlantic wrote and created video on this problem, published yesterday.

Mass Tourism Is Destroying the Planet

Dec 12, 2019 | 12 videos 
Video by  The Atlantic

Last year, 1.4 billion people traveled the world. That’s up from just 25 million in 1950. In China alone, overseas trips have risen from 10 million to 150 million in less than two decades.

This dramatic surge in mass tourism can be attributed to the emergence of the global middle class, and in some ways, it’s a good thing. But the consequences are grave—particularly for the planet. In a new episode of The Idea File, the staff writer Annie Lowrey explains how overtourism has contributed to large-scale environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals.

“Tourists can alter the experience of visiting something such that they ruin the very experience that they’ve been trying to have,” Lowrey says in the video. “That’s the essential definition of overtourism.”

To watch the Idea File Video (less than 5 minutes), click https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/603451/overtourism/

For more, read Lowrey’s article, “Too Many People Want to Travel.”

6 thoughts on “Overtourism

  1. You summed it up. “Unsustainable population translates into unsustainable tourism, which in turn contributes more than its share to climate change.” Most if not all of the problems on this planet are linked to this, and it will be the single hardest cultural change in human history. People I know tell me, “So what can we do about it?” as if it is something out of our control. I tell them to start talking about it. But no one wants to even think about it. But we have to. It needs to be a part of the public and political discourse.

  2. We can solve the overflow of tourism by proper managing. It should be a flow control for non residents. Close the 40 mile stretch and the transportation served by electric transportation system. Offer 6- 8 destination stops and use central Parking at Fort Ord. Let me know when I can make my pitch! It are the current adverse orgs such as Coastal Commission and bureau of Tourism of Monterey County that need exposure and public pressure to engage in protecting the Natural beauty of larger Big Sur.
    Robert 209 277 6320
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  3. I am sorry to learn that yo are ending your discussion of this topic because I believe that you are providing an important public service by establishing a forum where ideas can be discussed.

    Unsustainable population growth, compounded by “The Tragedy of the Commons” are great challenges for all of our resources. There are no simple solutions and political lines are drawn in very divisive times.

    The idea that Big Sur can be turned into a private gated community funded by public dollars is not politically realistic.

    If you really want to ‘save the 40 mile stretch of Big Sur’, Do what was done in Marin County 40 years ago with the establishment of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. https://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/historyculture/parks-for-the-people.htm Establish the Big Sur National Recreation Area. One feature is that current land owners can sell their property to the Federal Government and obtain a “Reservation” for their land in return where they can live property tax free until their deaths at which time the “Reservation” would be vacated. A General Management Plan would be developed with local and national input. Remember that most of the land which encompasses this ’40 mile stretch’ is already owned by all of the citizens of the united states (managed by the US Forest Service) and the Coastal National Monument (managed by the BLM) already protects of all islets, reefs and rock outcroppings along the Big Sur coast within 12 nautical miles of shore.

    In my opinion, the residents of Big Sur who want to ‘save Big Sur’ from ‘over tourism’ will have to lead this type of process. I do not believe that “17 Mile Drive” can be extended for the next 40 or so miles south because it is the access to public land, not Pebble Beach.

    Please reconsider your ending discussion of this topic.

    from WikiPedia: The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action. The theory originated in an essay written in 1833 by the British economist William Forster Lloyd, who used a hypothetical example of the effects of unregulated grazing on common land (also known as a “common”) in Great Britain and Ireland.[1] The concept became widely known as the “tragedy of the commons” over a century later due to an article written by the American biologist and philosopher, Garrett Hardin in 1968.[2] In this modern economic context, “commons” is taken to mean any shared and unregulated resource such as atmosphere, oceans, rivers, fish stocks, roads and highways, or even an office refrigerator.

    The California Coastal National Monument is located along the entire coastline of the U.S. state of California. This monument ensures the protection of all islets, reefs and rock outcroppings along the coast of California within 12 nautical miles of shore along the entire 840-mile long coastline

  4. A large portion of land along the 60 miles of coastline in Big Sur is private property. Solving future problems that this area faces by giving their land to the Federal Government is ridiculous! Some of the biggest issues and destruction of land and environment here are the areas the Feds control. They have no money to manage the overuse issues. Land in private hands is better protected from human destruction and bad behavior. Giving the traveling public an amazing visual of untouched land. The fact that the Land Use Plan here emphasizes “visual access” is what makes it so special. This is why it lacks infrastructure and is not overdeveloped because it was never meant to be a destination location. The highway was built and protections were meant for people to pass through, stop here and there, enjoy the views and move on.

  5. I agree with WTF . USFS has admitted to Pacific Valley School that they are under funded, understaffed and overburdened with exponentially increasing codes and regulations that they are not equiped to enforce. They are powerless to prevent commercial intrusion and erosion of preservation of public lands. For example, the southern area of Los Padres Nationa Forest is about to be opened to fracking, thanks to loosening of protection from industry by the current Federal administration.

    Implementing adherance to the Big Sur Land Use Plan by local residents, businesses, county agencies and law enforcement would probably be the best solution.

  6. I gave up flying the year I moved my mom out here from Florida. Personally, I can’t imagine flying these days. It’s turned into such an awful ordeal. Of course, if I’m realistic about it, not everyone lives in an area as heavenly as the Pacific Coast.

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