Implementing solutions to control mass tourism

Implementing solutions to control mass tourism, a challenge for European cities

Worldwide tourism exponential growth (+276% international travellers in 30 years) leads European cities to face an increasing number of visitors and crowded spots, thus disturbing the tourism model and its public perception. During last European Cities Marketing meeting in Gijón this month, European cities discussed how to regulate visitors’ flows without destroying what made a city attractive at first: its uniqueness!

Keynote speaker, Stephen Hodes, co-founder and partner at LAgroup, particularly captured the audience attention regarding development of worldwide tourism and set the context. From 1980 to 2010, the number of international travellers worldwide has grown from 250 to 940 million and by 2030 this figure will double. While managing the growth of crowded touristic cities, several possible solutions were suggested throughout the day: quotas, creation of new attractions to spatial dispersal, temporal dispersal, limitation in hotel growth, pricing and ticketing of former free attractions… In order to face this challenge, Amsterdam came up with its new campaign to give tourists reasons to go out of the city, highlighting 16 characters to improve the product. And to market Amsterdam abroad, a layer of 6 themes was introduced.

Positive perception of cities is what brings results, Gijón Ambassadors programme showcased by Carolina García, Convention Bureau Coordinator at Gijón Visitors & Convention Bureau, is a good example. The “Inhabitants as ambassadors” programme consists in celebrities born in Gijón singing praises of their hometown. Several surveys show that the credibility and welcoming nature of Gijón citizens is what people appreciated the most during their stay. ECM members experienced this convivial nature during their stay in Gijón thanks to Gijón Visitors & Convention Bureau’s hospitality.

Five member cities: Aarhus, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bruges and Dubrovnik outlined their different experiences in terms of managing visitors flows in conjunction with their sizes, their environments, etc during the afternoon dedicated to best practices sessions.

Speaking about the meeting theme, Ignasi de Delàs, European Cities Meeting President, said: “Exchanges between members are at the heart of European Cities Marketing and this meeting was no exception with presentations and case studies on how cities handle visitors’ flows. It’s obvious that cities need tools to regulate tourism impact and avoid coexistence problems.”

The next ECM meeting will take place in Turin, June 3-6, 2015 and the theme will be “Creating the city – how events and infrastructure projects can change the image”.

*European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of 110 members from more than 100 major cities in 36 countries.

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