Wednesday, 12 September 2018

"Overtourism"


A new word, overtourism, has started to show up in the travel lexicon. The meaning of the term seems to be pretty self descriptive but has been used in subtly different ways, the proposed definition in the Collins Dictionary is short and pretty good but I prefer the wordier definition used by Responsible Travel.

While in Southern Thailand earlier this year I came across an example of overtourism. We were travelling from Bangkok to Singapore and one our stopping points along the route was Ao Nang, a town on the Andaman coast. Several of our travel companions took the opportunity to visit some of the nearby islands either by kayak or farther away by boat. Without exception everyone who went out to the islands encountered such a mass of tourists that the journeys were considered dismal failures. The problems were not simply the numbers of tourists but the behaviour of a non-trivial minority was sufficient for some to abandon the visit and head back early.

Ko Liao from the sand bar, Ao Nang.
So my earlier experiential claim is not really true, I was fortunate that my wife was unwell for a couple of days and didn't feel up to the required boat travel to get to the islands she really wanted to see. Instead I suggested that we walk north-west along the coast to Nopparat Thara Beach. It would seem that most tourists head off to the famous islands that feature in the must see lists or are not prepared to walk a few kilometers. We enjoyed our walk and found that there were very few people at Nopparat Thara Beach, at low tide you could just walk across to a number of small islands. Just off the beach you can find memorials commemorating those who died in the tsunami on December 26th 2004.

While this modest little beach will hopefully never make on to one of the numerous Places to See Before You Die lists or Top [nnn] Beaches, I would rather spend my time here than at any of the cool places on these lists. To be fair this fascination with lists is not a new phenomenon and I guess this is something else we have to thank the ancient Greeks for since they are the ones credited with compiling The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

I may return to this topic at a later date, I have been able to visit some famous sites and avoid the crowds but do I want to share how to do it …

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