Biosphere Reserve Southeast Ruegen at the ITB Convention, Germany
12th March 2018 - CEETO representative attended to the ITB Berlin Convention, the world’s leading travel trade show.
From the 7th to the 9th of March 2018, the CEETO Project Coordinator of the Biosphere Reserve Southeast Ruegen visited the ITB Berlin Convention - the world’s leading travel trade show - to catch up on “hot topics” such as overtourism and new developments regarding sustainable tourism. As Ruegen’s tourism is highly seasonal the Biosphere Reserve hopes to learn about management ideas from case studies presented at the ITB Congress.
“Overtourism” has become a buzzword in the news in the last years, especially cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona or Dubrovnik - where the hit show “Games of Thrones” was filmed - suffer from spiked tourism visits. The availability of cheaper “private accommodation” like Airbnb has greatly contributed to this increase and has presented decision makers and tourism and city planners with new challenges (e.g. no tourism tax paid by the accommodations or limited access to number of arriving tourists). Experts agreed that the attractiveness of destinations lie within their culture which is shaped by the inhabitants and that overtourism exhausts the “psychological carrying capacity” of locals - they feel disturbed in their daily lifes.
To counteract this development it is necessary to create public, private, community partnerships and enter into a political dialogue, with the locals and the tourism industry members (e.g. agreements with tour operators, set new regulations for Airbnb, etc.). Once all sides have accepted that a capacity problem exists it is possible to try to actively direct tourism flows to create a win-win situation for tourists as well as locals. Tourism measures include information and persuasion (e.g. marketing that tells tourist not only to come but also when or when not to come), limited access to attractions (e.g. through online reservation system), flexible (or higher) pricing schemes as well as planning measures (e.g. “sending” tourist to different attractions outside the main attractions; build new attractions).
Like some of the cities mentioned, Ruegen is affected by overtourism at some “hot spots” during the high seasons. In the coming month the Biosphere Reserve will create a new sustainable tourism action plan and will take the lessons learned by other destinations into consideration.