“Covid gave Southeast Asia a break from overtourism. Now what?” That’s the question The Washington Post asked on Saturday.
Pandemic-related lockdowns and reduced tourism let many destinations take a break from heavy volumes of visitors. But now, many destinations are divided. Some want to preserve the benefits of lower tourist impact, such as wildlife recovery. Others want to discard many restrictions because they’re eager to max out the job-creating potential of their tourist landmarks and attractions.
Here are a few examples:
- In Thailand, the ministry of natural resources and the environment has ordered the country’s 155 natural parks to shut down at least a month every year. The idea is to give nature a chance to heal from heavy visitor footfall and boat traffic. The decision came after the parks were closed for the first time in 2020.
- In Indonesia, officials recently tried to limit visits to the ancient Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta to 15 at a time while also hiking prices for foreigners from $25 to $100 to pay for conservation. (The historic temple has nine stone tiers that support statues and relief panels of the Buddha.) Local opposition has since appeared, however, and the price hikes are now on pause.
- Indonesia’s effort to raise prices on a heritage site and national park featuring Komodo Dragons has also stalled, Nikkei reported.
- Before the pandemic, officials in the Philippines shuttered the island of Boracay for half a year and then reopened it with some restrictions. “But in April [of this year], Boracay exceeded its daily visitor cap multiple times,” the Post reported.
Overtourism is a term Skift came up with years before the pandemic. Overtourism continues to be a thorny challenge for the tourism industry during the recovery that Skift will continue to watch closely.