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Most welcoming cities and the effects of over-tourism

AMSTERDAM, NL – Online travel specialists TravelBird have released a study ranking international cities according to how welcome they are in relation to their levels of over-tourism. Reports this summer have shown how over-tourism is dampening the spirits of local communities and affecting visitor experiences. As a travel provider, TravelBird feel they have a duty to promote thoughtful travel and sustainable tourism. They undertook this study firstly to take notice of those cities that are making impressive efforts to welcome tourists responsibly, and secondly to open the dialogue about over-tourism and its impact on residents and their surrounding communities.

To create the ranking, TravelBird first analysed the global top 500 tourist destinations (taken from the UN-WTO) based on factors that can make a visitor feel welcome, such as a welcoming port of entry (airport, train station etc.), citizens’ happiness, safety, openness to host tourists, and English language proficiency. Furthermore, they ran an expert poll asking over 15,000 travel journalists how welcoming they found each city based on their personal experiences. TravelBird then weighted all of these factors with a formula that measures over-tourism in each destination to determine the final ranking of 100 cities. This research highlights a precise selection of popular cities around the world in order to give an international overview, meaning there are undoubtedly many welcoming cities not included in this study.

When a city reaches its capacity for the number of tourists it can carry, issues such as overcrowding, lengthy queues at attractions, and increased living costs start to occur. This can negatively affect the daily lives of local residents and therefore impact how welcoming the city is to tourists. To determine a quantifiable figure for an issue as complex as over-tourism, TravelBird specifically looked into the tourism carrying capacity of each city. This was calculated by comparing the following factors: number of residents compared to the number of tourists during the peak season, which indicates levels of overcrowding. Next they looked at number of licensed hotel beds in addition to the number of peer-to-peer rental beds (per sq km), which indicates if the city has adequate tourist accommodation. Following this, they conducted a second representative poll which asked local residents how tourism has positively or negatively impacted their daily lives, and used this data to create a weighted average that contributed to the city’s total over-tourism score.

“As a stakeholder in the future of travel, TravelBird has a responsibility to confront the growing problem of over-tourism,” says TravelBird CEO Steven Klooster. “We undertook this study as the first step towards a more sustainable future. It’s a call-to-action to ourselves and to fellow tour operators, to residents and local governments in those places that are worst affected by over-tourism, to work together to find solutions to this problem. We believe tourism can have a positive impact on local destinations; with a clear understanding of the issues at hand, innovative thinking and commonsense legislation, we can preserve and protect them for the future.”

The table below reveals the top 20 most welcoming cities in this index. Each category is scored from 1 – 10, and the higher the score, the better the city ranks for that factor:

City

People

Over-Tourism

#

City

Country

Expert Opinion

Port of Entry

Safety

Happiness

English Proficiency

Openness to Host Tourists at Home

Tourism Carrying Capacity

Total Score

1

Singapore

Singapore

7.90

10.00

8.95

6.16

7.82

8.60

8.65

8.22

2

Stockholm

Sweden

9.10

9.13

7.89

9.04

8.17

5.63

6.59

8.02

3

Helsinki

Finland

8.30

7.72

8.78

9.48

7.90

4.50

7.55

8.01

4

San Francisco

USA

8.00

7.38

6.80

8.43

9.30

3.80

8.46

8.00

5

Rotterdam

Netherlands

7.50

9.21

6.33

9.39

8.43

4.23

8.90

7.98

6

Lisbon

Portugal

9.20

3.27

8.08

2.14

6.33

3.01

7.81

7.90

7

Tokyo

Japan

8.90

9.48

9.65

3.88

3.88

6.07

7.09

7.89

8

Oslo

Norway

9.10

7.90

8.43

10.00

7.99

4.76

6.11

7.88

9

Zurich

Switzerland

8.00

9.39

9.74

9.74

6.59

5.11

7.13

7.84

10

Orlando

USA

8.50

5.11

4.06

8.43

9.30

3.97

7.99

7.81

11

Hamburg

Germany

8.50

8.43

7.99

7.82

7.55

7.90

6.50

7.69

12

Copenhagen

Denmark

9.50

7.85

9.48

9.91

8.25

6.68

4.52

7.63

13

Dublin

Ireland

7.90

8.78

7.38

7.90

10.00

6.16

7.00

7.58

14

Toronto

Canada

8.50

1.70

7.81

9.21

8.69

8.34

6.23

7.52

15

Nice

France

7.70

7.38

7.90

5.98

5.11

3.27

7.70

7.45

16

Bruges

Belgium

8.00

1.61

5.02

7.38

7.03

3.70

7.88

7.41

17

Geneva

Switzerland

8.10

5.89

9.44

9.74

6.59

3.10

6.16

7.39

18

New York

USA

7.50

6.50

3.10

8.43

9.30

9.91

7.73

7.38

19

Berlin

Germany

7.40

2.83

6.76

7.82

7.55

9.36

7.58

7.37

20

Phuket

Thailand

8.90

1.44

3.82

5.54

2.22

1.09

7.64

7.36

The tables below reveal the top 10 cities who suffer from the most and least over-tourism. A low Tourism Carrying Capacity score indicates a high level of over-tourism, while a high score indicates a low level of over-tourism:

The Cities Who Suffer from the Worst Over-Tourism

The Cities Who Suffer from the Least Over-Tourism

#

City

Country

Tourism

Carrying

Capacity

#

City

Country

Tourism

Carrying

Capacity

1

Barcelona

Spain

2,05

1

Doha

Qatar

9.74

2

Mumbai

India

2.15

2

Manama

Bahrain

9.39

3

Amsterdam

Netherlands

2.18

3

Lima

Peru

8.95

4

Venice

Italy

2.19

4

Rotterdam

Netherlands

8.90

5

Hanoi

Vietnam

2.40

5

Kathmandu

Nepal

8.86

6

Mexico City

Mexico

2.41

6

Singapore

Singapore

8.65

7

Milan

Italy

2.66

7

Kuwait City

Kuwait

8.60

8

Budapest

Hungary

2.89

8

Dubai

UAE

8.56

9

São Paulo

Brazil

2.89

9

San Francisco

USA

8.46

10

Bucharest

Romania

3.22

10

Abu Dhabi

UAE

8.43

Further findings from this study:

  • Copenhagen, Denmark is the most welcoming city according to travel experts.
  • Singapore scores the best for port of entry.
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE is the safest city in the index.
  • Oslo, Norway is the happiest city.
  • Dublin, Ireland scores highest for English proficiency.
  • Paris, France are the most willing to open their homes to tourists in this study.
  • Doha, Qatar, Manama, Bahrain and Lima, Peru have the lowest levels of over-tourism.
  • The Netherlands is home to cities that feature in both the top 10 and bottom 10 for over-tourism. Amsterdam ranks as the 3rd worst city for over-tourism, while Rotterdam ranks as the 4th best city for low levels of over-tourism.

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