Tourist Thursday, 5/2/19 – Unhashtag Big Sur!

We need a new campaign – Unhashtag Big Sur! And it wouldn’t be hard to do, nor cost a lot of money. Here is one Vienna is doing:

Enjoy Vienna. Not #Vienna

Unhashtag your vacation!

“Social media allows us to travel the world everyday – without even getting up off the couch. But the places we swipe through are not filled with life or memories – they’re littered with hashtags and diluted by filters.

This is an invitation from Vienna – an ideal place for a little bit of digital detox and for creating moments that you, and you alone, can treasure forever. Because Vienna is far more colorful when not seen through the lens of a smartphone camera.

So whip out your city map, make plans and throw them away again. Simply let your senses guide you. And no worries, you won’t go cold turkey when you give yourself a day offline.”

They have sections to explore on:

1. Six signs you should think about a digital detox

2. Influencers on digital detox

3. Best places for digital detox

4. Vacations for your smart phone

5. See Klimt not #Klimt

6. Inspiration for offline activities

7. Meditation on Tram D

To explore this wonderful campaign further see: https://unhashtag.vienna.info/en-us

 

Tourist Tuesday, 4/30/19

“In 1904, the city of Barcelona received a petition for development from Eusebi Güell, an industrialist and a patron of the arts. Güell had bought a tract of land on the flank of Muntanya Pelada, or Bald Mountain, which rises above the plain that extends to the city’s port. Güell had ambitious plans for his hillside property: it was to be designed by Antoni Gaudí, the celebrated architect, with sixty houses set on the bosky grounds. Güell’s business model, which required prospective residents to invest in the project before their houses were constructed, was flawed, and only two were ever built. But the grounds were completed. Serpentine paths twisted up the hillside, and at the center of a spectacular bifurcated staircase there was a fountain in the form of a lizard, its skin composed of mosaic shards in blues and yellows.

The development was sold to the city in 1922, four years after Güell’s death, and became a beloved public park, with the lizard as its icon. In time, Park Güell proved too beloved for its own good, and by 2013 nine million visitors were traipsing through it annually. “The Park has almost stopped being used as a park,” a municipal report noted at the time. It had become, instead, a “tourist place.” That year, in an effort to mitigate the damage and crowding caused by so much foot traffic, the city introduced a fee to access the park’s “monumental core,” which includes Gaudí’s staircase, and also limited the number of tickets sold to eight hundred an hour.

From the local government’s perspective, the change was a success: the year after the restrictions were introduced, the number of visitors fell to 2.3 million. Still, the flow remains constant. When I arrived at Park Güell at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in February—hardly peak season—I couldn’t get in for another two and a half hours. When I finally entered the monumental core, at a cost of ten euros, it was as bustling as Coney Island’s boardwalk on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Instagramming admirers formed a mob around Gaudí’s lizard.

….

Some twenty million tourists descend annually on Barcelona, which has a population of just 1.6 million people. (New York City receives three times as many visitors but has more than five times as many residents absorbing the influx.) A lot of factors have contributed to the throngs in Barcelona. Policy decisions in Madrid, and in Catalonia, encouraged a boom, and framed it as an economic-survival strategy, especially after the global financial crisis of 2008. City officials successfully sold Barcelona to the international market as an especially fun European destination, with good weather, pretty beaches, lively night life, and just enough in the way of museums and architecture to provide diversion without requiring an onerous cultural itinerary.

….

Currently, one and a half million visitors stay in Airbnbs in Barcelona annually, and although five times as many people book rooms in traditional hotels, the company is influencing what the city feels like, especially for permanent residents. There are almost twenty thousand active Airbnb listings in Barcelona. Even in residential neighborhoods, the sounds of dozens of wheelie suitcases rattling over the cobblestones after an 11 a.m. checkout—and of late-night revellers sampling the bars that have sprung up to cater to them—have become as reliable as the bells of the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s unfinished drip-castle cathedral.

….

Airbnb, aware of the growing hostility toward it, has begun working more closely with local governments. Among other things, it has introduced an online tool that makes it easier for the city to identify hosts who are breaking rental laws.”

….

For the rest of this article see: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/29/the-airbnb-invasion-of-barcelona

Tourist Tuesday on a Wednesday, 4/23/19 (A day late)

From the World Travel & Tourism Global Summit:

SEVILLE, Spain — As the travel industry prepares for a world facing overtourism and concerns about environmental sustainability, the goals of tourism ministers and marketers are changing.

For example, Fred Dixon, CEO of New York’s official marketing arm, NYC & Company, said at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit here earlier this month that his organization has shifted the way it measures success.

“We got caught up in the race for bigger numbers,” Dixon said. “We realized over time that the true metric for tourism is the economic and social impact on the community: job development, economic impact, neighborhood impact. If you don’t bring locals with you when you’re invigorating or building a destination, you’re missing an important part of the equation.”

Marketing success, Dixon added, is not “just about visitor volume. We as an industry should grapple with that more.”

Steffan Panoho, head of Auckland Tourism, echoed that sentiment. He said that over the past two years, New Zealand’s largest city realized it needed to revise its tourism strategy to incorporate “destination management versus just pure destination marketing.”

“Traditionally, we’ve talked about visitor numbers and arrivals and hotel nights,” he said. “Now, we have a whole new set of imperatives: sustainability and looking after our communities. There’s a whole new set of metrics we have to look at and quantify before we can make a call on whether we’ve been successful.”

For the rest of this article see: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Government/Changes-in-destination-marketing-a-topic-at-WTTC-Summit

 

Tourist Thursday – There IS more we can do, 4/18/19

Yes, there is more we can do. A beginning is to work together as stakeholders to assure we have a destination stewardship plan for Big Sur. This work originally started in May of 2016 before all hell broke lose with fires and landslides. It was resurrected in 2018 and several planning sessions were held which included representatives from county, state, and federal governments and agencies which all have a stake in this area, as well representatives from Monterey County Visitors & Convention Bureau, local chamber of commerce, and local residents.

At a future date, CABS (formerly CPOA) will be sponsoring a community meeting on creating a destination stewardship plan for Big Sur (details will be provided in a subsequent post) and one of the speakers/facilitators will be Costas Christ.

From The Advocate last year: https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_b1893c04-7bec-11e8-88b7-57737dce8c38.html

Cities dependent on tourism, such as New Orleans, need to rethink their approach to that industry lest they lose the very people and culture that make them unique and attract millions of visitors, according to an expert who will be talking here Saturday about how to balance attracting travelers and protecting the attributes that make communities unique.

Costas Christ, a consultant and activist on sustainable tourism practices, said the key is to find a balance between luring visitors and protecting the needs of residents and the aspects that make cities unique.

“Tourism should not be about conquering a destination,” he said in an interview. “It should be about enhancing a destination.”

Christ is a leading advocate for sustainable tourism and one of the founding members of the eco-tourism movement that inspired it.

That movement involves a push to get travelers to approach natural attractions in environmentally sensitive ways so as not to destroy them — something that Christ says applies equally well to cities as to the Galapagos Islands.

“Why shouldn’t the entire tourism industry be thinking about its impact on issues such as the environment, on cultural heritage, on local people’s livelihoods?” he asked.

The challenge is to change an entire industry, particularly here in California, so that the emphasis is not on “more” tourists but on better experiences for tourists, making sure  that these experiences are balanced with the needs of the local community and the environment that hosts all. It can and must be done. It is not just a “Sustainable Moment” that must be obtained, it is a “Sustainable Future” for the environment, the community, and the visitor.

Tourist Tuesday, 4/16/19 – Making a Difference

When combining the Leave No (Digital) Trace Ethics mentioned last week, along with the Educational aspects of  publiclandshateyou and contacting sponsors, is there more we can do? Can we use technology to help us tackle overtourism? Yes, we can and some creative solutions present themselves when we do.

There is a very lengthy article that discusses and explores the various methods being used around the globe – both the “carrot and the stick” (positive vs. punishment) methods and how that is working for each. Also discussed in this article is the role of Airbnb on housing, local economy, and tourism. This is well worth the time to read the entire article if one is interested in protecting our coast from overtourism.

You can find it here: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-technology-can-help-us-tackle-overtourism

Tourist Thursday 4/11/19 – So-called “Influencers”

At this very moment, Southern California is full of poppies, and the poppies are full of influencers. The superbloom—a fun word for a particularly riotous profusion of wildflowers—has brought thousands of tourists flooding into areas across the state, like Lake Elsinore, where access to the Walker Canyon poppy fields was temporarily shut down because of City Hall called an “unbearable” amount of people, many of them stampeding through the fields and even picking the flowers.

People behaving horribly in natural spaces isn’t new, though it’s a problem getting more attention recently. During the government shutdown, Joshua Tree was particularly badly hit by vandalism, including people climbing the delicate trees, vandalizing them, and even cutting them down, damage that experts estimate could take as long as 300 years to repair itself. (Miley Cyrus apparently did not get the memo. She posted two photos of herself this week sitting in a Joshua tree. After the comments trended towards outrage, the comments on the posts have been closed, but the photos themselves remain up.) The damage to Joshua Tree alone was bad enough to generate an Instagram account, Joshua Tree Hates You, which shows a truly soul-crushing amount of damage, which seems to only get worse as the park gets more popular.

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In the case of the superbloom, a more fleeting phenomenon, the unruly crowds have garnered a lot of attention and more than one guide to seeing the flowers without ruining the flowers. Yet reports of appalling poppy-centric behavior keep flooding in. Definitely not helping: the sheer number of influencers staging photoshoots among the flowers. The images tend to be pretty uniform: a beautiful, often white person sitting in a poppy field, gazing dreamily into the distance, sometimes holding a carefully placed sponsored product, like a cellphone case or a jaunty can of soup. They tend to make the poppies look very, very inviting, and like it’s cool to sit among them, which it’s absolutely not.

For the rest of this article, see: (https://jezebel.com/instagram-influencers-are-wrecking-public-lands-meet-t-1833781844)

One person who is doing something about it, prefers to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation. He posts on Instagram as publiclandshateyou. His forcus is on educating instagramers, and if that doesn’t work, contacting their sponsors. Concerned that his Instagram account might be silenced, he started a website/blog Here

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I will cover more on this new approach next week. Can we use instagram and other social media to change the course of destruction – sometimes one person at a time, other times, trying to change a whole industry? I submit we can, trying education first, and then perhaps by finding ways to take away the motives behind these social media pushes for fame and money.

Another recent post on this same website:

The Impact of Reposting Without Context

***Originally posted 4/8/19 on @publiclandshateyou***

This picture, originally posted by @everchanginghorizon, has been shared all over social media. Many people have sent it my way. @hike.vibes recently reposted this picture, and many of you commented on the @hike.vibes repost to say that this picture is sending the wrong message. @hike.vibes replied by saying “if you refer to the original post, this shot was actually taken on the trail. No flowers were harmed”. This is why I will continue to reiterate the following message. In pictures like this, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the trail or not. It doesn’t matter if you used good camera work or Photoshop to make it look like you’re in the middle of the flowers. It doesn’t matter what your caption says. You know why? Because these pictures can, and likely will, be reposted and taken out of context. The repost by @hike.vibes is a prime example of that.

@hike.vibes reposted the picture without the context provided by @everchanginghorizon in the original post. Now 100,000 people will see this picture without the original context, and it sure appears that the model in the picture had to go off trail to get the shot. When people try to replicate this shot, will they actually stay on the trail, or will they take the easy way out and bulldoze through the flowers to the most photogenic spot? How many people will follow the new “path” that was just blazed?

Individuals, influencers, and companies that have platforms to broadcast to huge numbers of people have a responsibility to think about the impact their content will have. They need to be thinking “With this post, am I going to be sending thousands of new people to an ecologically sensitive area? Will all those people treat this place with respect? Am I treating this place with respect?”. Many accounts clearly are not considering these important factors. Their primary concern always seems to be, “How can I take the best shot, from the most unique angle, that will position myself or my product in the most attractive way possible”. Your digital footprints can turn into physical footprints. The before & after pictures of the Walker Canyon poppies a depressing illustration of that phenomenon.

#actionsspeaklouderthanwords

 

Tourist Tuesday, 4/9/19 – In Nature

WARNING: Some of the information contained in the article is graphic, and if you care about Mother Nature, will make you sick.

”It’s no secret that people aren’t always appreciative of their surroundings. Whether up in the air or traveling abroad, people have done some horrible things to their environment.

Poaching Elephants in a protected Sanctuary is only one.

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When it comes to nature, this rings especially true. [In 2018] people have made headlines by vandalizing, destroying, or tampering with some of the world’s most gorgeous natural environments.

From defacing a national monument to shattering a rock formation millions of years in the making, here’s how people have damaged nature in 2018. Here is an article about tourists behaving badly all over the world in nature: https://www.thisisinsider.com/bad-tourists-nature-2018-12

Leave No Trace, the Center for Outdoor Ethics has begun to address the LNT ethics in terms of the digital age. (See https://lnt.org/blog/new-social-media-guidance)

New Social Media Guidance

Boulder, CO: There is little question that social media plays a role in the promotion of various outdoor locations, and in some cases, has led to significant resource and social impacts. It’s logical to ask, “Would this place be as impacted as it is now had it not been for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Pintrest?” Social media, like any tool or technology, can be a force for good or it can have the opposite effect. What if every social media post also included a message of stewardship? Think how different things would or could be if this were the case.

Leave No Trace isn’t black or white, right or wrong. It’s a framework for making good decisions about enjoying the outdoors responsibly, regardless of how one chooses to do so. If outdoor enthusiasts stop and think about the potential impacts and associated consequences of a particular action, it can go a long way towards ensuring protection of our shared outdoor spaces. To that end, we encourage outdoor enthusiasts to stop and think about their actions and the potential consequences of posting pictures, GPS data, detailed maps, etc. to social media. Furthermore, we urge people to think about both the protection and sustainability of the resource and the visitors who come after them.

When posting to social media, consider the following:

Tag thoughtfully – avoid tagging (or geotagging) specific locations. Instead, tag a general location such as a state or region, if any at all. While tagging can seem innocent, it can also lead to significant impacts to particular places.

Be mindful of what your images portray – give some thought to what your images may encourage others to do. Images that demonstrate good Leave No Trace practices and stewardship are always in style.

Give back to places you love – invest your own sweat equity into the outdoor spaces and places you care about. Learn about volunteer stewardship opportunities and get involved in the protection of our shared lands.

Encourage and inspire Leave No Trace in social media posts – given the millions of social media users in the world, think of the incredible potential that social media has to educate outdoor enthusiasts – first timers to seasoned adventurers – about enjoying our wild lands responsibly.

As we have contemplated this issue we’re left wondering what the future will bring in terms of technology, communication, and outdoor recreation. Will posting pictures to social media be a thing of the past in five years? None of us know. Social media, if used the right way, is a powerful tool that can motivate a nation of outdoor advocates to enthusiastically and collectively take care of the places we share and cherish.

Enjoy Your [OUR] World, Leave No Trace!

 

 

 

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.”  https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-technology-can-help-us-tackle-overtourism

“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.” (https://theculturetrip.com/europe/articles/tourismophobia-is-a-thing-and-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-it/

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!”

(https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-technology-can-help-us-tackle-overtourism

(To be continued…)

 

Tourist Thursday, 3/28/19

It seems as if I have so much information I want to share regarding overtourism, I think I might have to add a second day for a while. As we all know, once fire season starts, we will all be too busy to have this discussion!

Here is the first page of a lengthy article I am reading (I will be posting more of it in the coming weeks, as well as of other lengthy articles):

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It got me thinking…what are the tourist/resident ratios for other destinations? So I looked up a few: The greatest ratio given is 33:1 Here. However, there are other statistics available and the countries with the highest Yearly Tourist arrivals to residents ratio are Andorra, Macao SAR, China, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), Monaco, Aruba with a(n) Yearly Tourist arrivals to residents ratio of (2,630), (2,349), (1,169), (957), (883) % respectively. (See: http://mecometer.com/topic/yearly-tourist-arrivals-to-residents-ratio/)

So, I did a little math. A conservative estimate of the number of visitors to Big Sur given at the CCC meeting on Friday, 3/22/19 was said to be 5-6 million a year. I will use the lower, more conservative, 5 million. The number of residents in Big Sur, being generous, is approximately 1500. What does that make our tourist to residents ration: 3,333% -greater than any country in the world, by over 700%!!

I’ll let that sink in, for a moment.

Tourist Tuesday & The California Coastal Commission

This was an expansion of the oral statement Martha Diehl offered before the community meeting last Friday hosted by Supervisor Mary Adams for our Coastal Commission representative, Commissioner Groome. Martha spoke with Commissioner Groome at the pre tour meeting in the Highlands as Mary Adams requested. That one wasn’t filmed & had no audience so nobody except the invitees heard her. She was asked to give an overview of the LUP to set the scene for the driving tour before the community meeting. She also submitted this letter to the commissioner in this more expansive written format. Remember, the Coastal Commission’s purpose is to increase public access to our state’s coastal regions, which can sometimes be at odds with environmental protections and community needs. This is a long read, but well worth it. Thank you, Martha, for allowing me to publish this!

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