With destinations including Barcelona and Venice over-run by tourists, how ready are the world’s 50 biggest cities for future growth in visitor numbers? A major study for the World Travel & Tourism Council has identified Barcelona, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver as the cities most at risk from overtourism over the next decade. The Destination 2030 report said many of these cities were starting to redefine their measurement of tourism success by shifting from just destination marketing to adopting a more proactive and holistic approach to visitor numbers. The report compiled by JLL said these cities were “Managing Momentum”, whereas New York, London, Auckland, Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, Sydney and Las Vegas were in the next category of “Mature Performers”. They benefit from established tourism infrastructure but with a risk of experiencing future strains in relation to visitor volumes.

City tourism growth

Travel and tourism accounts for an estimated 10.4% of global GDP and supports 319 million jobs, or 10% of world’s total employment. Forecasts point to growth of nearly 4% a year for each of the next 10 years, which in some cases will put additional strain on infrastructure and essential services. Of the 1.4 billion international visitors crossing borders in 2018 for tourism purposes, the report said that 45% of them travelled to cities. International arrivals to the 300 largest city travel destinations accounted for over half a billion trips last year. JLL’s executive vice-president Dan Fenton said: “Whether a city is looking to bolster its travel and tourism industry or manage growth, the approach needs to be strategic, purposeful and comprehensive.”

Lower levels of readiness

Those cities grappling with challenges around excessive tourism numbers have been looking at policies such as regulation on home sharing or are looking to create new tourism attractions in order to move people away from congested areas. At the other end of the scale, the report highlighted the “Emerging Performers and “Dawning Developers”, where there’s often a lower level of urban readiness. These cities tend to be emerging countries, with a need to enhance urban infrastructure such as airport connectivity, accommodation and to address environmental issues including water quality. Examples include Bogota, Cairo, Delhi, and Istanbul.

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