Until 2020, the tourism sector was the world's largest economic sector. Before COVID-19 struck, an important theme was the way natural and historical heritage could best be utilised in order to stimulate tourism and hence socio-economic development.
From an economic perspective, the optimal allocation of these scarce and vulnerable tourist assets is very important. Market forces do not guarantee this optimal allocation, and the non-optimal use of heritage is widespread. Heritage is therefore often underused or overused. Both phenomena are forms of unsustainable tourism development.
When a destination underperforms, many socio-economic development opportunities remain unexpressed, while with overutilisation the nuisance often outweighs the collective returns, which can prompt a negative attitude towards tourists from residents.
Although it might seem that the COVID-19 crisis has rendered the overtourism discourse obsolete, many of the paradoxes of overtourism have not been eased at all. In this lecture, Prof Van der Borg will show that it is necessary to embrace a new business model.
Lecture by Jan van der Borg, Professor of Tourism Economics at KU Leuven & Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia