Planning your trip in 2023? Skip these places to save them Fodor’s tells tourists around the world which places to avoid

Fodor’s, the famous travel company that built its business on telling you where to go and where to stay, eat and drink when you get there, has just released a list of places around the world you should avoid in 2023.

The company’s 2023 “No List” does not advise you to avoid these destinations because of bad food, lousy attractions or the risk of danger, but because the presence of a large number of tourists in these places cause unsustainable ecological, cultural and social problems. harm.

The “No List” focuses on the impact of global tourism on three key areas: unique and sensitive natural environments increasingly degraded by tourists, “cultural hotspots” facing overcrowding, and housing and overstretched infrastructure, and destinations in the midst of water crises that are already straining local resources. communities.

Lake Tahoe, California, and Antarctica are on the list of natural wonders that deserve respite from tourists due to their ecologically sensitive environments. As for the cultural destinations on the list, Venice and the Amalfi Coast in Italy; Cornwall, England; Amsterdam, Netherlands; as well as Thailand, were noted as experiencing strained infrastructure and higher living costs that increasingly push locals.

Global tourism, through a combination of food consumption, accommodation, transport and souvenir purchase, contributes 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. After a brief respite in the early months of the pandemic, tourism numbers have soared, even surpassing pre-pandemic numbers.

But the pandemic-induced downtown in tourism has given locals, environmental activists and government officials in places like Thailand the chance to witness something seemingly unimaginable: the rebirth of their ecologies and communities. communities that had been devastated by the social and environmental costs attributed to the industry. In April, the Southeast Asian country’s government banned polystyrene packaging and single-use plastics in national parks. The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment has also ordered the closure of all national parks in Thailand for one month a year.

Amid global droughts and depleting supplies, water is key to understanding some of the reactions of local communities against mass tourism. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, which is also on the ‘No List’, many native Hawaiians are becoming increasingly vocal about the negative impact of mass tourism on their access to growing water resources. rare. Last June, mandatory water restrictions were put in place in the parts of Maui most visited by mainland and international tourists. The ordinance prohibited non-essential water use, including irrigation, watering lawns and washing vehicles. But as local households have been forced to adapt or face heavy fines, hotels and other tourist facilities have been exempted from the cuts.

“When staying in a destination, tourists essentially become temporary residents,” Justin Francis, co-founder and CEO of travel agency Responsible Travel, said in an email. “This can put additional strain on local services and facilities.” Francis is advocating for more tourism taxes, which he says can increase funding for infrastructure development – ​​roads, access to clean water, energy supply – that benefits local communities as well as tourists.

The backlash against mass tourism has also extended to policies on housing availability and affordability. On Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island, the mayor of Honolulu in April signed a bill limiting short-term rentals and Airbnbs in an effort to help ease the local housing crisis. The proliferation of such properties, especially in densely populated cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona, ​​has become one of the most contentious issues not only among housing advocates and travel experts, but also official marketers and development officials. tourism. “They are literally decimating communities – evicting people from their homes and from the areas they have lived in all their lives,” Francis said. Amsterdam’s left-wing city council tried to ban Airbnb rentals in three central districts of the city, but that was overturned by local courts last year.

City of Honolulu policy includes limiting the number of Airbnb and short-term rentals as well as increasing the minimum length of stay required for visitors using these services. The majority of homeless people on city streets are Native Hawaiians, who experience disproportionate levels of poverty across the state.

Of course, many of the communities most vulnerable to the negative social and environmental impacts of mass tourism also depend on it for their livelihoods. The simple act of boycotting travel can also harm the most vulnerable groups, including women, migrants and people of color.

Some destinations seek to maximize the economic benefits of tourism while minimizing its cultural and environmental impacts by simply limiting travel to “high value” tourists, i.e. those with the highest disposable income. . The Himalayan nation of Bhutan is a prime example. Visitors must pay a daily fee of $200, which does not cover the cost of hotels or other services. The government of Bhutan says the fees support sustainable tourism development and training, as well as carbon offsetting.

As for Antarctica, some experts say its inclusion on Fodor’s list is complicated, due to the fact that the landmass has no local population that would benefit from visitors. On the other hand, thoughtful and sustainable tourism could arguably further protect the environment there, which could act as a buffer against more destructive economic industries like mining. “Tourism here cannot be allowed to grow without limits and without mandatory environmental measures,” said Francis of Responsible Travel. However, the Antarctic Treaty, which prohibits economic and military exploitation of the region, will likely continue to protect the region’s environment and resources.

The big takeaway from Fodor’s list is that travel can be a force for good, both for nature and for local communities. The key isn’t necessarily to stay away, Francis said, but to always make informed choices that minimize harm and maximize benefit to local communities first.

“As an industry, we need to do more than ‘just leave footprints’ and actively work to create positive impacts,” he said.

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