Tourism boom: regulate or sit back and relax?

After years of travel restrictions, social distancing and worries about contagion, tourist numbers are back to pre-coronavirus levels or even higher in many regions this summer. But this not all good news either for popular holiday destinations or for the environment. Commentators discuss how to make travel fairer and more eco-friendly.

Új Szó (SK) /

Empty cities were a sad thing

We should be glad that life has returned to normal after the Covid pandemic, writes journalist Laci Szabó in Új Szó:

“I have often thought back to the time when the pandemic broke out, when the press was saying that nothing would ever be the same again. ... It was a hard time. It was sad to see empty hotels and empty planes and cities where people had to keep their distance from each other. ... Now in general everything is full, but we don’t mind: the main thing is that we have regained our freedom to travel.”

Laci Szabó
Lapin Kansa (FI) /

Good news for Finland’s far north

Tourism is an important source of income for Lapland, Lapin Kansa points out:

“More and more people from all over the world want to holiday in Lapland in winter, and in a world that is heating up this is hardly surprising. The paradox, of course, is that tourism itself is part of the problem, because air travel emissions in particular exacerbate climate change. For Lapland’s regional economy, however, the accelerated development of tourism is good news. Tourism brings jobs, income and tax revenue to a region whose population is declining and ageing. This should also be borne in mind when the everyday life of the locals is ‘disrupted’ by the swarms of tourists.”

Politiken (DK) /

Put an end to cruise tourism

Amsterdam wants to banish cruise ship tourism from the city centre. Politiken demands the same for Copenhagen:

“The war in Ukraine has led to a decline in the number of cruise ships in Copenhagen. ... This should be the beginning of a decrease rather than an increase in cruise tourism. ... The city council should set climate targets for cruise ships and let the shipping companies know that a ban like the one in Amsterdam could follow. Of course Copenhagen should not be closed to tourists but should aim to attract those who want to explore the city for more than just a few hours: those who want to eat here, swim in the harbour, cycle with the wind in their hair and have time to experience the city.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Criticism with an agenda

The attacks against mass tourism are unreasonable, geographer Rémy Knafou writes in Le Monde:

“There are good reasons for tourists to choose certain destinations: the French coast, for example, is the destination of choice for 62 percent of European customers because its coasts and beaches are places of conviviality suitable for all types of customers: Families and single travellers, young and not so young guests. ... Ultimately, the denunciation of mass tourism serves the interests of those who want to sell us alternative, expensive, ‘off the ‘beaten track’ trips, which in the case of long-distance travel have a high price for the planet due to all the greenhouse gas emissions they cause.”

Rémy Knafou
La Croix (FR) /

Don’t deprive the less well-off of dream destinations

The fair international regulation of tourism, La Croix demands:

“The World Tourism Organisation estimates that there will be two billion tourists [per year] in ten years’ time. And 95 percent of them will travel to less than 5 percent of the global surface. ... So it is impossible to leave this all to the laws of the market! But if each travel destination is left to invent its own restrictions it could lead to an unholy chaos. ... Above all, we would run the risk of favouring luxury tourism, which would have the means to adapt financially to the restrictions. Therefore, states urgently need to agree on a fair and equitable regulation of tourist flows. To ensure that a part of the global population is not deprived of the chance to visit the places they dream of.”

Isabelle de Gaulmyn