Is Europe turning into the world’s theme park? The UN World Tourism Organization estimates there were 1.3 billion international tourists in 2017, with over half of them visiting Europe. The most-popular destination on Earth was France, with almost 90 million tourists in 2017; Spain grabbed second place, with 82 million tourists, and Italy was also popular, with 58 million foreign visitors.

Tourism represents fully 10% of the European Union’s annual GDP, generating €342 billion in 2016. Almost 10% of total employment in the EU comes from the tourism sector. So, it’s a big part of Europe’s economy, and you would think that Europeans would be happy to have all this money flowing into their cities. Yet 2017 saw a series of anti-tourism marches and protests across the continent.

Is it possible to have too much tourism? Demonstrators argue that tourists are making their towns and cities unlivable, crowding up piazzas and boulevards, squeezing out locals from the housing market (not least because of the popularity of Airbnb), pushing up prices, littering, being drunk and disorderly, and looking ridiculous with their selfie-sticks.

Part of the problem is that tourism is not evenly-distributed across Europe. Some places (such a Paris) receive millions of tourists, whereas others are visited more rarely. In the Netherlands (which hosted almost 18 million international visitors in 2017), virtual reality headsets have been installed in Amsterdam Central Station, showing tourists a digital glimpse of life outside the Dutch capital in the hopes they will leave Amsterdam and explore the rest of the country.

Is tourism killing cities? Is Europe turning into a theme park? Are tourists pushing up rents and crowding out locals? Or is tourism a vital part of Europe’s economy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) – Wolfgang Moroder

28 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Liz

      So, you consider your self better only because you are a legal migrant. The ignorance kills the world! Maybe I am better than you, so you should not be in this world, no? It’s your logic! You spoile the world :)

    • Seán

      What an ignorant idiot😂😂😂

  1. Ivan

    No, the reality is most cities and therefore countries would die without tourism, particularly in Southern Europe.

    • Manuel

      When the Brexit will be effective you will have to wait hours or days before going on holiday to the southern European countries, and due to the bureaucracy.

    • André

      Yes, tourism is a important part of the revenue of the southern European countries, but people are being pushed away of the big cities because of the tourism, so in some way, tourism is killing the cities and making them lose identity.

    • Ivan

      without tourism there would be no point living in the big cities in the first place and the deranged Brussels policy of ‘Ever closer Union’ that is destroying peoples identity, not tourism. 8|

    • Manuel

      Ivan If you British massively choose not to make holidays in Europe then you will find: more expensive prices, dangerous places (especially for women and drinkers) and no special respect for you. From what I have seen (at least in Portugal) there is always a special respect with the English tourists that there is not with any other tourist.

    • Ivan

      Manuel ‘Most’ Brit’s are decent people as are most people of other countries but the EU is not the only destination for us to go on holiday. Couple that with cheap flights & hotels around the world and individual Nations, cities holiday resorts, shops, vendors, etc in the EU stand to lose a big chunk of their income from their respective holiday business. At the end of the day people will chose their holiday destination heavily based on price & if Brussels makes holidaying in the EU more expensive then people will naturally look elsewhere. A pity most people in the EU do not understand the impact the decisions of Brussels are about to have on their lives & instead believe the fiction they are being told by the European Politburo.

    • Manuel

      Ivan Obviously the vast majority of British tourists are decent people and the young people who travel are at their age to have a little freedom :)
      Not only will the EU lose a large part of its holiday business revenue. The UK will lose to, and probably will lose more money and profits than any southern European countries in this tourism business with the BREXIT.
      The United Kingdom is the biggest tourist attraction in Europe. No country in southern Europe receives as many tourists as the United Kingdom.
      Tourism is perhaps the UK’s largest business.
      The main source of tourists in the UK are from Europe, and more than half of all tourists visiting the UK are from Europe.
      A cut in EU visitors to the UK will have a major impact on your economy.
      Brussels will do what the nations of Europe agree to do. Brussels does not decide for itself.

    • Ivan


      Any shortfall for the UK will be short term as the £ will fluctuate & adjust to compensate whereas the Euro can not & even if it does not freedom from tyranny as no price limit.

      You have it the wrong way round, the 27 EU elected National governments do as the unelected European Politburo tells them to do as the EU is run on the principle of the carrot & stick, the carrot being given billions of other peoples Euro’s for nothing & the stick being the same Euro’s being taken away.

      With the next MFF negotiations already in trouble because of the massive financial annual shortfall after Brexit coupled with the projected 500 billion Euro loss to the EU overall that carrot & stick mentality is going to be causing you major problems as elected governments will no longer be given the carrot if they obey the unelected European Politburo.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      With climate change occurring, Southern EU countries will become oppressively hot, UK staycations will increase and places outside the EU will become more attractive to UK citizens. Besides if UK folk have to wait hours to go to an EU resort, more will end up going to the Carribean, Asia and Australasia,

  2. Civis

    No, it isn’t killing cities. It’s the only serious income for many historic cities which have lost their previous roles. I can’t imagine Venice or Dubrovnik without tourism.

  3. Matej

    Depends on the type of tourism. It very well can ruin the city, nature and experience.

  4. Michael

    It seems that the fashionable left wing xenophobia is anti-tourism. Tourist saturation is a legitimate quality of life problem, but it’s quite extreme to say tourists are “killing cities”. On the contrary, tourism pumps money into cities. Some sensible regulation and more credible legal consequences for violence and disorder in general is needed.

    We should be focused on improving the economy and fortune of residents and on making everyone richer, not on making things more affordable by making the whole city poorer.

  5. Stef

    I would hardly refer to the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean via rubber boats tourism…

  6. Παυλος

    It depends on the kind of tourism we are talking about
    It’s true that some towns or islands wouldn’t exist without tourism.. but it’s a double edged knife it can also ruin an if the are no regulating rules

  7. Manuel

    Is not killing the city but now it is almost impossible, in certain areas of Lisbon, to find a café where it is possible to order tea and talk a little. There are many tourists who only enter some cafes to see the interior and take some photos … the same happens in some churches …

  8. Frankie

    malheureusement l’homo touristicus n’est pas en voie de disparition

  9. Bernardo

    Mass tourism yes, it is ideed destroying cities. Lisbon is suffocating with this problem. Many of its residents are suffering from its negative effects.

  10. Christine

    Tourism is an important industry but like lots of things needs sensible regulation. I am currently visibly family in SE England or the coast. Local tourist areas have ‘ We are Full’ signs up.

  11. catheirn benning

    Is tourism killing cities?

    It is political correctness that is killing cities. The only income many European countries presently have is, tourism. And why is that? Could it be because those running our states have absolutely no idea what they are doing or how to run a country? Except to fill us up with utter bull, all day and every day, in order to persuade us to keep them in the money?

    What people should begin to think about is how to stop the robbery of our homelands. And the way to do it is, to stop filling in for people who are clearly not qualified to do the tasks they are chosen for. As, without the expertise to fulfil the task given, others are fuelling political correctness by covering up the inadequacy of the one who should not be there. Whilst, at the same time, only being paid for one position whilst doing two jobs..

    What I mean is, if you have a job that needs some kind of skill, doesn’t matter what skill, and you must have a second person to assist in the task, which is your way of making a living, and someone, who is not qualified for this work is given the job beside you, because of political correctness, the employer expects you to teach them how to do it, that is fraud. They have given you the burden of two positions with only one pay.

    Which is why those inadequate doctors in the UK were able to carry out manslaughter on their patients. They relied on those around them to do the task expected of them. And on those particular days, the support they relied on were off duty.

    Don’t repeatedly cover for those incapable of the task they are employed to perform.

  12. EU Reform- Proactive

    ………the EU assists with “harmonizing” & future Chinese might (tourism) will do the rest!

    1) The EU’s competence in tourism is a supportive (“3rd degree”) one”!
    Why not get acquainted?

    Ref: “Supporting competences”= Article 6 of the TFEU. Of course, nobody can beat the EU in regulating & bureaucracy!

    Q: What supporting competence & value adds the “World Tourism Organization” (WTO) which the EU lacks- or vice versa?

    WTO= 1st degree supranationality? EU= 2nd degree? Nations= 3rd degree? Can the EU be considered a political sandwich? Does the system remain cost effective for all Members to continue to sponsor these many private think tanks & “consultants”?”

    2) On the other hand- the EU is easily paralyzed & welcomes (A.M.) more undocumented= illegal= self-unsustainable= unwanted “tourists”- roaming & hiding in the Schengen area! Maybe the latest idea of a “EU tourist attraction” by Brussels?

    3) The EU once more is looking on while valuable infrastructure is either sold or built by Chinese manpower and Chinese (COSCO) money! Hello “ €315 EIB billion Juncker plan”! Actually it is the “EU Infrastructure Investment Plan by/from the EIB.

    Taken over or takeover-targets are Europe’s strategic harbors like Piraeus & more. China has pocketed already approximately 360 European Hi-tech companies so far. Endless money? Who’s selling out?

    Soon- besides an avalanche of containers with goods by Rail and ships- massive tourism will flood through Chinese controlled European harbors & Chinese built infrastructure on Chinese mega ships looked after by Chinese travel agencies!

    Money? China’s CICC is the biggest global investment bank= ~6 times larger than “Junckers” EIB.

    Sorry JCJ/EU! A rather pedestrian effort! No contest- a perfect handover!

    JCJ/ EU= future European Museum- very attractive!

  13. Tarquin Farquhar

    The French figures are inflated as they count ‘visitors’ that change train in France to go to other countries – what a con!

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