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Travelers are concerned with overtourism and are willing to spend money to avoid crowds. Those are the main findings of a survey that was released at the world largest travel fair, ITB Berlin. The survey, which was led by Travelzoo, shows that across the globe, travelers are thinking about crowds when they travel. The research was global and focused the three most travel savvy continents: Asia, Europe and the US. Although there were local and regional differences, tourists across the globe are concerned with overtourism and are willing to pay to avoid crowds.

The survey was conducted in eight countries (Spain, Canada, France, China, Germany, Japan and Spain, Great Britain and the United States) and had 8,000 respondents. The researchers tried to find out how tourists ‘recognize the phenomenon’ of overtourism and what they do, or are willing to do, to avoid crowds. 

Overcrowded destinations

At ITB Berlinthe findings were presented by Travelzoo’s Sharry Sun, who, much to our liking, pleaded to use the term ‘overcrowded destinations’ instead of overtourism. She favors the second term because of the negative connotation of overtourism. According to Sun, ‘overcrowded destinations’ are those destinations where there ‘is a clear imbalance between supply and demand’. 

50 percent of the respondents believe more needs to be done to curb mass tourism. According to Sun, that number will increase in the future. She believes that more and more people will start to actively become opponents of limiting mass tourism. Not only did a majority of respondents believe mass tourism needs to be stopped, an even larger majority said to be willing to travel outside the main season to avoid it. About 65 percent of the respondents were willing to travel at alternative times. Respondents (43 percent) also showed interest to support local businesses, local brands or the destination’s culture. 

Avoid Crowds in London

Paying to avoid crowds

An even more surprising outcome in the age of cheap flights and all-inclusive resorts is that a majority of tourists is willing to pay to avoid other tourists. Simply put, a large number of tourists are willing to pay extra to avoid crowds. In addition to paying to avoid crowds, they are also willing to pay to protect the destination’s environment and infrastructure. If people are willing to put their money where their mouth is, it clearly shows that avoiding crowds has become a big issue.

Even more surprising is the amount of money people are willing to spend on mitigating the effects of overtourism. The survey showed that a large majority of travelers in Germany, France and Spain are willing to pay up to 300 EUR to avoid crowds. About 76 percent of German respondents are willing to pay that much money to escape overtourism. Canadians are willing to pay a similar amount while some Brits and Americans are willing to pay even more money. About 30 percent of British tourists are willing to pay an additional 500 GBP to skip crowds. Meanwhile, 19 percent of US respondents were even willing to pay a staggering amount of up to 1,000 USD to do the same. 

Alternative travel to avoid crowds

Sun’s main recommendation to battle overcrowded destinations is alternative travel. Travel outside the peak season as well as alternative attractions, ‘outside of the hotspots’. At we agree with Sun. Therefore, we educate travelers on when tourist destinations are likely to be ‘overcrowded’. We also give tips on how to avoid crowds and how to plan your vacation better. The tourist industry will have to start doing the same. They need to increase more alternative traveling options. This can be done by promoting alternative dates or alternative destinations. 

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