Whether it is the lush greenery of Sweden in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge or the vibrant culture of Spain in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara, traditionally Bollywood or rather India’s idea of travel usually includes or is limited to a pan-Europe trip. This is a consistent bucket list trip across the world and why shouldn’t it be? Rich architecture and history, decadent food and a luxurious lifestyle; Europe is enticing, to say the least of it. And that is the very reason it is hub of tourism as well as over-tourism.
In the past few months, the number of tourists in the continent have reached staggering levels, consequently leading to increased careless littering and damage to property. The same has led Venice to impose regulations on the visitors to ensure responsible behaviour. The city council imposed bans on sun-bathing, snacking and polluting. Offenders may find themselves heavily fined or even on a flight back, never allowed to return to the country.
This is not the only city in Europe to take such extreme measures to curb the burdening over-tourism in the continent. In addition to the logistical issues, drunk tourists have posed a threat on the streets of Prague. These problems has been felt in many cities and they are not willing to succumb to it. Instead, a string of laws and bans have been introduced to control the activities of visitors and conserve and protect the native heritage.
Rome has always received hordes of tourists, thanks to its significant historic tourist spots. But as the recent years have pressured the city consistently, it has pushed back with a rule of its own. Owing to the unmanageable amount of tourists, Rome has banned seating on the iconic Spanish steps. You can get fined up to $450 if found violating this rule. This comes after the claim that the steps are often soiled by the people who spend their time there. Earlier in the year, other rules encompassing eating and even dragging suitcases were also issued to protect the sanctity of the site.
Certain cities diverted their solutions to a more creative route. Tourist collective Untourist Amsterdam offered a ‘Wed and Walk’ initiative where a tourist can get ‘married’ to a local for a day (a temporary ordeal, of course) and spend their honeymoon in the city. This helped the tourists explore the more unknown areas of the city as locals took them to personally known spots and not just the overdone attractions. The initiative ensured that the popular tourist attractions are not always swarming with crowds and more uncommon, offbeat places are explored as well.
Another curious trend introduced in Berlin, Germany is battling over-tourism by offering a free tour. Sounds like an oxymoron of sorts, doesn’t it? Sandemans New Europe, a tour operator has encouraged visitors to help clean up cigarette butts, plastics and other waste in return for a free trip around the place. With this effort, Germany is encouraging tourism in a more thoughtful, responsible manner.
Cruises to Europe have always been a preferred transport choice when it comes to traveling across countries. However, with the recent emergence of over-tourism, the pollution caused by this has come to the fore leading to active opposition. As a result of this, Italy, Spain and Croatia have banned cruises that are contributing to the pollutants. Gradually, the lack of this option will only lead to lesser people availing the trip.
When you really think about it, it is quite a paradox that Europe is taking such active measures to stall tourism considering that it is a booming industry and adds millions, if not billions, to their revenue. But it is undeniable that when a country’s heritage and maintenance are at risk, it is only obvious that the cities will be required to take a stand, maybe put their foot down.