Global tour guides see cruise tourism as double-edged sword
A recent study on perceived issues around cruise travel has shown that the majority of tour guides see overtourism to be an issue in their destination. The survey was conducted by ToursByLocals, who polled their guides offering pre- or post-cruise tours and shore excursions to both ocean and river cruise passengers.
A total of 761 guides from 52 different countries completed the survey anonymously. When asked if they were “concerned that there is an issue with overtourism” in their destination, 64% replied positively, recording an answer of “very concerned,” “concerned,” or “a little concerned.” When the question was further focused on cruise tourism specifically, 55% of respondents answered positively. This response was flipped when the guides were asked whether they thought cruise passengers in their destination were concerned with overtourism, indicating that 58% of these tourists were “not concerned at all.”
Respondents from different regions showed variable levels of concern about the issue. Guides in Europe were by far the most concerned with general overtourism in their destination with 75% responding positively to the question, while those from South America were the least concerned (35%). When specifically talking about cruise overtourism, the Europeans were again the most concerned (63%) with those from Africa the least likely to indicate that they felt it was an issue (32%). Among North American respondents, 49% showed some concern over general overtourism, while 38% indicated they were concerned specifically about cruise overtourism.
“We undertook this survey of our guides because we wanted to take the temperature of how they felt about overtourism in their own destinations,” said Paul Melhus, CEO of ToursByLocals. “Because we have over 2,700 guides in more than 150 countries, we see them as a real resource for us to learn about tourism issues in global markets. Along with their survey answers, many of them took the time to write in answers with their ideas for reducing the negative impact of tourism in their port. At the end of the day, these are people that make their living by providing cruise passengers with tours, so for them to see beyond their own personal benefit from the situation and raise a red flag is something that the tourism and cruise industry should listen to.”
Unsurprisingly, over 94% of respondents felt that taking a private sightseeing tour versus a larger group tour had benefits in combating cruise overtourism issues including:
– Able to give a more authentic local cultural experience (90%)
– Able to visit lesser-known areas of the city (77%)
– Able to visit smaller/independent businesses (66%)
– Higher percentage of tourism income goes into local economy (54%)
– Provides local employment (52%)