We're back with more terms to inform conscious travelers on their journey!
If you missed part 1, dont worry, this blog is not a sequel but just more great industry words to add to your lexicon! To really be in the know, you can find part 1 of this series here
Definition: Travel that “links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining or educating the visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.”
Have you ever visited a pumpkin farm, gone apple picking, or tasted wine at the vineyard?
If so, then you have participated in agritourism!
“I was first introduced to this concept when I was working with an agriturismo, as they are known in Italy. Here the word means both the type of tourism and the farm that is hosting tourists. The farms are country homes, which open to travelers who wish to experience the rural lifestyle for a few days. Agriturismo’s are complete with historic farmhouses and host families serving home-cooked meals all while surrounded by gorgeous countryside. It's an incredible experience!”
Tara - founder of Conscious Travel Collective
Visiting a Maple farm & learning about the process of sugaring
Vineyard with onsite wine tasting
Working farms open to the public
Cut your own Christmas Tree farms
On farm farmers markets
How agritourism creates positive impact:
Agritourism offers farmers the possibility of supporting their business by generating additional income from allowing visitors to have experiences on the farm.
The potential of agritourism in revitalizing rural communities:
Farming is a fickle business. Tourism is a way farmers can diversify into an area of income generation that is less risky. The guests also provide farmers with an avenue for direct marketing to consumers. Additionally, since farming tends to yield a low income, with huge overhead costs, tourism is a source of often needed additional revenue.
Agritourism favors small-scale production systems, which are more integrated with the natural environment. Supporting producers who use regenerative practices means supporting the land, water, and air quality of the local area.
Farms are vital to their communities, which are often in rural areas. Agritourism holds potential to revitalize rural communities, while also creating potential for new jobs and an increased tax base.
In Italy, agritourism contributes to over 20,000 operating farms! "The Italian countryside has been able to save a very significant number of valuable historic farm buildings and preserve traditional agriculture in areas difficult to cultivate.”
Furthermore, many of the practices used in small scale farming have been passed down and are part of a cultural heritage that when treated as a legacy, can continue into the future.
When places offering agritourism are near cities and urban centers citygoers have an opportunity to observe and discover the relationship between the earth, and food production, and the farmers that work tirelessly to feed us!
Why every conscious traveler should know this term:
Agritourism is very often a sustainable form of tourism!
Protecting the local food supply might not seem like what's happening when you visit, for example, a Mezcal farm, however it's very common for small producers to use a portion of their land for community farming practices. Meaning their commercial enterprise is for mezcal, but they also grow food crops for their own use, to feed their livestock and staff, as well as to support the community.
Agritourism presents a unique opportunity to provide financial, educational, and social benefits to tourists, producers, and communities. Educational opportunities for the public helps to preserve agricultural lands, and a way of life for small scale farmers who might otherwise not be able to compete with large producers. When locals open their doors to visitors, there is often a wonderful opportunity to learn about another way of life, that could be quite unique! Agritourism provides a real win-win-win for everyone: Visitors, Farmers, & the Environment!
Definition: You’ll find many definitions of Overtourism. At CTC we define it this way; Too many travelers in a place, so that their numbers are negatively impacting the quality of life for the people who live there, putting excessive pressure on the destination (food supply, services, transportation, etc.), and potentially harming the environment.
Travelers may experience this when it feels the destination is too congested. While locals may experience frustration by their reduced access to the resources they need, including housing.
How does this happen:
Too much too fast - When a place gets attention from travel writers or a TV show resulting in travelers flocking there in a short period of time. The destination won’t have time to adequately respond to the quick rise in demand
Poorly managed destinations - Unfortunately, this can happen when management is not prioritized, or is done remotely, without local stakeholders playing a role, and from a lack of monetary resources in the city, state or national government.
Social media has contributed to the problem of over tourism by posters prioritizing the most “instagramable” spots when planning where to go in a certain destination
Geotagging – places often don’t have the infrastructure to support thousands of visitors, but geotagging is one of the ways that places get overcrowded, far beyond its capacity. - For more of geotagging – check out this article from National Geographic.
Greed – many of those organizations profiting from the mass influx of tourism are not invested in the destination they expose to these risks. These powerful interests can be a formidable adversary for the destination managers, and local citizens frustrated by the situation.
“Overtourism is but one example of what happens when more and more seek to consume a common resource, particularly when that resource is a common property resource, many honeypot destinations are just that.”
Potential harmful impacts:
Local people may choose to leave, or even be forced due to rising costs, and declining services that support local life and community.
The ills of overtourism are exacerbated by certain traveler mentalities. When guests see a destination as a place to have a good time, and don’t recognize this as “home” for locals. This gets really bad for locals when travelers are fueled by drinking, or engage in behaviors offensive to local customs and social norms
Drain on resources, pollution, excessive trash
Shops, markets and restaurants convert from serving local need to vying for tourism dollars. The remaining shops serving locals inevitably have to raise prices to keep up with higher costs of living and rising rents.
Damage to the natural environment and wildlife.
A place, “can die of success” - Too much tourism can have a negative impact on authentic culture, by changing a city from a place people live, work and play, to a place for predominantly tourism, and commercial enterprise.
Venice - An Example of Overtourism:
Venice, Italy is a city famously struggling with overtourism.
First we must understand that the total area of Venice is slightly less than 8 square kilometers, or about twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. The lagoon city and its local community face high, year-round demand from tourism, with 20-30 million tourists visiting each year. That means over 100,000 people each day are making their way around the narrow streets, over foot bridges and across the canals. “Venice's resident population in the historic city numbers just over 50,000, a small fraction of what it was a couple of generations ago.” These numbers mean a ratio of 370 visitors per resident.
With each passing year, more of the city moves from working to meet the needs of tourism, rather than residents. One of the direct impacts of the tourism imbalance is housing. Both city and privately owned buildings are often allocated for hotels in place of housing for locals. “The city’s remaining residents feel left behind.... Rents are sky high, Airbnb rules the roost. More and more historical buildings have been taken over by hotels. Shops, bars and restaurant cater almost exclusively to tourists. "
Single day tourism
While resident’s housing options are being squeezed by overnight visitors, the problem of daytrippers creates additional issues. Estimates show 4/5 of visitors to Venice are there for only the day, not staying overnight. These are people staying in hotels just outside of the city, or travelers who have arrived by cruise ship*. These types of guests create only a small amount of revenue for the city, while creating a huge drain on its resources. Most city tourism management is funded by taxes which are imposed on overnight hotel stays.
Anti-cruise protestors have become a frequent sight in Venice, although the Italian government seems keen on keeping cruise travel numbers growing into the future. There have been some limits on ship size and route, and officials are looking to open a new port a bit farther from town. This creates other logistical issues in getting thousands of guests per ship into the historic city center and back daily.
We like this site for more on the issue of cruising, and to keep up to date on the changes affecting Venice visitors and locals. link *A note on cruise ships – these floating cities are huge polluters. Cruise ships parked near Venice run all day to keep power going. In Venice, ship emissions have created huge pollution in the car free city. They cause great harm to ecosystems in the places they visit, which are typically already in a fragile state. In Venice this damage is furthered by the depression wake of the ship, which erodes the salt marshes as ships enter the shallow lagoon. Furthermore, the cruise business often harms small businesses in the destinations they visit by selling experiences to their guests. Even though they are engaging local guides, they often do not pay them well, retaining commissions that are commonly 4
Up until very recently, there was no regulation in Venice. However, earlier this year, Italian authorities announced the introduction of limitations on the number of people allowed into Venice.
Starting in January 2023, travelers who are only visiting for the day (not staying overnight) will be required to make a reservation online and pay a fee (from 3-10 euros) to visit the city. The aim is to limit the number of daily entries. High fines will be imposed on those who are found to be transgressing the rules. This will not stop the multifaced problems that spring from overtourism, but it is a step. One that will be closely watched by other destinations struggling with this issue.
Solutions for Overtourism: Destinations hold a limited capacity for supporting both tourism and the locals who call it home – these limits must be balanced to favor meeting the needs of locals first.
This actually will benefit travelers as, as they’ll be able to see the unique culture, and experience a living city that is authentic, not a creation solely for tourism.
Some destinations benefit from having protections, such as a UNESCO heritage designation, which will trigger alarm bells if the site is at risk. UNESCO is very active in working with destinations to protect their sites, however they do not have the authority to police or institute changes that would protect it. That must come from the destination. So having structures in place to protect the destination is crucial.
Some destinations are actively seeking to limit the number of tourists.
For example, the archeological site of Machu Picchu in Peru, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, saw more than 1.5 million visitors in 2016. Alarmed “by the stress of such foot traffic, and the lack of infrastructure to manage the swells, UNESCO threatened to place Machu Picchu on its “List of World Heritage in Danger” “ link In 2022 after the lifting of COVID restrictions new rules were imposed on the sale of tickets required to enter the site. Previously visitors were allowed to access the entire sight at will. Now the site is divided into 5 sections, called circuits, which control the flow of traffic. Tickets are also sold in specific time periods to further control crowds, and guests must have a licensed guide. The number of passes to be sold for the Inca Trail, which leads to Machu Picchu have also been dramatically reduced, along with the new requirement of a licensed guide, and group sizes limited to 10 people. By creating these protects, the hope of that the site will be able to support this number of guests without degradation. Although locals tell us for this to occur, the numbers will need to be reduced even farther.
We have also seen travelers, aware of the issue, making the conscious decision not to visit destinations that suffer from too much tourism. These travelers opt for lesser-known destinations, or cities that have the structure to handle high numbers of visitors.
How Travelers Can Play a role: There are communities which have been devastated by irresponsible tourism.
As an industry it's our role to ensure this never happens again. But travelers can make a difference too. With the awareness that mass tourism practices can bring mass harm, new conversations can begin. Destinations and organizations can start creating protections and investing in conservation. The shift into sustainable and responsible travel is one that acknowledges the need to defer to locals as the authority, creating communities of stakeholders, and advocacy groups. Today's travelers can be change makers, asking, "how can my travels support communities, and preserves cultures so they not only survive, but thrive?”
Definition: In contrast to Overtourism, this term is used in the travel industry to refer to places who use marketing and promotion in hopes of attracting visitors. These destinations often have a popular destination nearby that is struggling with too much tourism. For example, Barcelona began to see adverse effects of too many visitors about the same time Lisbon began promoting the city as wanting to receive more guests.
Why conscious travelers should be familiar with undertourism: Let’s call attention to a fact – travel can be quite harmful. Tourism can be taxing on local resources, it can be exploitative of cultures, people, and the natural environment. But, as you may know by now, it doesn’t have to be.
On the flip side, tourism is often a lifeblood for some communities. Many small businesses are in fact dependent on tourism as a primary source of income. COVID showed us that many places were vulnerable to undertourism, their economies dependent on tourism, in particular foreign tourism as a source of revenue. Without tourism income to support businesses, local communities can suffer.
“I saw this acutely in my neighborhood in Brooklyn in 2020, when small businesses were closing due to the lack of travelers. All the local support and love was simply not enough to sustain them. I was naive to the fact that some businesses in my neighborhood depended so greatly on tourism.”
Tara, founder of CTC
When done properly, tourism supports conservation of the natural environment, wildlife, and cultural heritage.
“While conservation in rich countries is propped up by government spending, tourism revenue can account for 80% of park agency budgets in developing nations”, according to researcher Ralf Buckley, who studies ecotourism at Griffith University in Australia. Places such as animal sanctuaries often survive from admission fees and donations from visitors. Take, for example, the direct relationship between visitors to wildlife conservation sites and poaching. When tourism increases, it's been shown to reduce the number of poachers in the area. Thus, tourism activities can serve as a safeguard that protects wildlife and their fragile natural environment.
Travel is so often a place for learning and gaining new awareness. Encounters with conservations and protected areas serve to teach travelers practices they can incorporate into their lives, and as travelers.
How & Why undertourism occurs:
Events like the COVID pandemic
Underdeveloped infrastructure for tourism
such as Bali during the Mount Agung eruptions
or Puerto Rico following hurricanes Maria & Fiona
Lack of press attention or public awareness
How travelers can support destinations: Selecting destinations welcoming tourism brings added benefit to both the traveler and the host destination. Seeking destinations that are under touristed leads travelers down a road less traveled (literally!), and opens them to places with unique experiences. It can be challanging to know what destinations are seeking to increase the numbers of travelers arriving there, so we offer here below a few ways conscious travelers can support areas in their travels;
Support conservation areas
Visit national parks and protected areas that support biodiversity
These places can be burdened by too much tourism too, be mindful of visiting outside of the busy season, and adhere to the rules designed to protect the park, its wildlife and resources
Include community based tourism initiatives in your travels
Support traditional practitioners by attending workshops, hands-on activities and buying direct or from collective shops that support artisans
Visit destinations that support Marine Protected Areas, and show respect for oceans and wetlands
Engage licensed guides, rather than guides who don’t pay the proper licensing fees, which supports tourism initiatives. Licensed guides are most required to complete training programs which teach respect for the destination and the people who call this place home.
It’s important to remember that conscious travel practices are about creating mutual benefit for both the traveler and the destination. To make the most positive impact, it's not about where you go as much as how you approach your role as a traveler.
A few key practices to consider for every trip, no matter the destination;
Use public transit
Travel outside of peak season
Book accommodations that are locally owned/ operated or homestays
Be mindful of resources
Bring an open mind and open heart!
The author of this blog is Tara Busch, the Founder of Conscious Travel Collective.
You can find out more about Tara on our team page