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

67 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar

      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 :)

    • avatar

      What an ignorant idiot😂😂😂

    • avatar

      That’s such a ignorant statement. How do you justify such a red neck comment. As a matter of fact cities like barcelona, venice and rome which are crowded with tourist over the whole year prefer migrants who try to create a life there and be a contribution for the government by paying taxes over tourists who insult the culture, making a mess in the whole city I mean how difficult could it be to throw your rubbish in a rubbish bin. I hope you gonna try to inform yourself the next time before spreading offending comment which are not verified.
      and here a link to educate yourself.

  1. avatar

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

    • avatar

      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.

    • avatar

      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.

    • avatar

      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|

    • avatar

      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.

    • avatar

      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.

    • avatar

      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.

    • avatar


      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.

    • avatar
      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. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  4. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  6. avatar

    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. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  9. avatar

    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. avatar

    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

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

  14. avatar

    Well, it’s difficult to my opinion tourism is obviously not killing Europe. Tourism brings positive but also negative effects. Tourism mostly has a negative impact on the environment and the local communities of different european cities. Mallorca is one of the best examples that shows how stupid humans are.Of course, not the whole city is affected, thanks god! But there are some beaches that are full of waste, totally polluted because some people drank too much and now the beach is full of beer cans, wine bottles and plastic cups. The locals can barely sleep at night because of the drunk, loud and laughing tourists that can’t imagine that in some appartments or houses are people, children, BABIES that have to go to work the next day or just need to sleep. This is just disrespectful and makes me wish that it’s forbidden to travel to Mallorca

    • avatar
      Miss B.

      You certainly have a point there, but I think the most problematic issues are the soaring rents and prices for real estate. Not just in places like Mallorca, but most touristy cities in Europe (Berlin, Barcelona, etc.). What are your thoughts on that?

  15. avatar

    may I introduce myself? My name is Flo and I live in a small town in Austria. Because of that, I am not affected of tourism, but I have some words to say.

    First of all, I think that many cities become like a Disneyland or something like that, I am with that these, but when did tourism became a huge problem like that? Have you ever been to a city, which is a mass tourism city?

    For example Venice. I mean back to the old days, this was a city full of charm and history, and also fame for culture. But today it’s full of people and you literally cannot breathe. That’s not to many people’s satisfaction.

    I think we have to take care of culture cities and bring them back to the roots!

    Let’s do this together.

  16. avatar
    Isabella B.

    Re: Is tourism killing cities?

    With reference to the published article, I would like to bring across that the branch of tourism definitely has many disadvantages, nevertheless tourism also has advantages for the locals.

    In my view the worst disadvantage of tourism is the high amount of pollution, however nowadays it is almost impossible to travel without taking a toll on the environment. Nevertheless we all can decide, if we go by the airplane or by the train, which is more environmentally friendly.

    In spite of that tourism has also positive effects on the economic prosperity of a community. For example: If a community capitalize on their natural setting, they will put more effort to preserve the nature.

    Anyway we have just one planet, which we should be handling respectfully.

  17. avatar

    In my opinion, everyone should have the opportunity to travel to which country or culture they would like to explore. Europe is a beautiful spot, something everyone should have seen in his life. Not only from the culture and the people, rather also from the way of life, the food and the architectural styles. There are certainly many people who enjoy tourism, others despise it. Everyone should resign themselves to the fact that tourism is a good thing, not only in terms of economics, rather also people are being developed, taught and also connected & in my opinion, tourism will and should always exist.

  18. avatar

    In my opinion, everyone should have the opportunity to travel to which country or culture they would like to explore. Europe is a beautiful spot, something everyone should have seen in his life. Not only from the culture and the people, rather also from the way of life, the food and the architectural styles. There are certainly many people who enjoy tourism, others despise it. Everyone should resign themselves to the fact that tourism is a good thing, not only in terms of economics, rather also people are being developed, taught and also connected & in my opinion, tourism will and should always exist.

  19. avatar

    My opinion about this topic is that tourism has a lot of positive aspects but like everything tourism has also disadvantages.
    The first disadvantage is the kind of tourism create are often low-paying service jobs, like maids and store costs.Tourism has also a negative aspect on environment, addes tourists put strains on an environment, for example litter axcess traffic on roadways and overcrowdt beaches and parks. Additionally added visitors put strains on public services, such as police and ambulance. Another disadvantage ist that foreign guessts may be seasonal and the town may suffer of-season due tot he slowdown in income. Furthermore travellers destinations can often seem „nauthentic“, not really porttraying the overall region accuraqtely. Finally a popular place may see increased housing prices; as seasonal visitors buy up „summer houses“ reducing the supply of available housing for locals

  20. avatar

    From my point of view, unfortunately the tourists harm the country which they enter. I am pretty sure they don´t do it deliberately but travelling has enormous negative effects on the country. Certainly, I can say without doubt that travelling has also positive effects but there are more negative effects than the positive aspects. First of all, travelling without taking a toll on the environment is almost impossible and incredible. Furthermore, because of the steep demand the house prices in popular destinations are increased significantly. With the result residents cannot keep their family afloat. Unfortunately, not only economic and environmental effects are directly linked with tourism, there are also cultural effects. So, our cultural heritages turned into a commodity, so that they might be destroyed. In short, I am entirely opposed to the idea to accept enormous number of tourists. There should be a limited number of tourists, who have the opportunity to enter a country.

  21. avatar

    For sure is tourism a big part of countries economies. As you mentioned, tourism provides employment opportunities for local people, which is a great advantage for both the locals and the state. In addition, visitors invest money not just on tourism, also into the community by buying products, services and experiences. This leads to an economic growth of a country, because it brings money. Very simple. Moreover tourists in particular learn about foreign traditions and gain new perspectives on life and the world. It also requires an investment in appearances, infrastructure and other services. This improves also the quality of life for inhabitants. In my point of view, nobody has the right to stop people from getting to know other countries and cultures.

  22. avatar

    I think that too many tourists are bad for these countries. Because tourists usually fly with the planes on vacation and therefore they drive on vacation, with the cars and that damages the environment and causes that there is a lot of traffic and the streets are worn out. For locals, these are very big problems because their home is polluted by tourists. Tourists are good for all countries, but they should pay attention to the inhabitants and their land and not pollute and destroy anything.

  23. avatar

    Nowadays there are many discussions about tourism and it´s effects.
    In my opinion, no one can say “Tourists are bad for a countries economy” or something like that. Exactly the same, no one can say “Tourism is good for a country”. It´s something between these.
    As many of you already mentioned, there are states who are living from this industry, therefore there are many workers and many work places included. The industry branche is multifarious, so there are many jobs linked directly or indirectly to tourism. If the success of the branch would decline, it would have unimaginable consequences for a country.
    When it comes to the locals, it´s not to be overlooked that travellers often consume the necessary ressources, instead of the locals themselfes. There are so much areas where locals can´t afford something or do something because of the poverty. Perhaps tourism is one of the main reasons why residents can´t recover again.
    In conclusion, there are understandably pros and cons to this issue. But i think decisive is not the amount of tourists in a country. The critical point is how a state handels with the situation, without neglet about the real estates.

  24. avatar
    ANIRBAS (sabrina)

    In countries where tourism is important to the economy, Croatia and Greece for example, holidays are advertised well before the summer arrives. These adverts show seas with amazing clear water and cosy local restaurants, all at amazing prices. They attract many people who want to experience such things, but tourism has a price.

    I went 2 years ago to Opatija (Croatia) and it was crowded with tourists, including myself, obviously. We stayed at an accommodation right on the top of a hill and we could see over Opatija. I talked to some older people who were born in the region and they told me that they have to leave their houses over summer because of the tourists. They said they need a place to sleep as it was always too noisy! The man who rented the property also told us that many wealthy outsiders, mostly Russians, had been buying holiday homes and also building new houses and hotels in the resort over the last ten years and this was pushing up the property prices and forcing local people to leave.

    I also noticed that there were lot of shops and companies which were from outside Croatia such as Interspar, BIPA and BILLA and I felt a bit sad. I wanted to see something different and new, Croatian shops and restaurants serving Croatian food with Croatian cooks, waiters and waitresses but there high streets were dominated by companies from outside the areas and even the local food specialities served up were often Slovenian and not Croatian.

    • avatar
      Miss B

      Dear Sabrina,

      I was really moved by your comment and could literally feel the dilema local residents are faced with…However, what do you suggest as a potential solution to the issues you´ve brought up?

    • avatar

      The answer is simple, first of all, people need to stop thinking that another country and region belongs to them. So make friends with someone from that country so you have an excuse to go and visit. Any city or town should always cater first to its residents first and not allow expats or digital nomads who never settle in a particular place in as well as that creates communities of people who steal homes who should go to locals and creates changes in demography and heritage of the region. No one has the right to enter a place just because a plane ticket was cheap.

  25. avatar

    In my opinion tourism is a big part of our lives. Many of us love to travel and it is very important to take a toll on the environment. Tourism has many disadvantages, nevertheless tourism also has good advantages. However, too many tourists are not good because they pollute our country. A lot of people travel by plane and that is not good for the air. Moreover, the tourists are good for the locals therefore we need them.
    We can all contribute to this and protect our environment and nature. For example, to travel by public transport instead of taking a taxi.

  26. avatar

    Travelling is amazing, you will know new culture, people, idea, life style and sometimes, you even find yourself. “Travel is the beginning of learning”, and I think it’s really true. You learn a lot from travelling. However, there is one fact : whenever you travel foreign country, you are tourists. And there are always some difficulties of coexistence of the tourists and the locals. The best examples are Venice and Barcelona. Almost any of us have been to Spain or Italy. For us it is normal to travel, but we are not thinking of the consequences here but of OUR wellbeing. Often the cities are polluted and the residents are generated by the tourists. My opinion: Stop to pollute – enjoy your trip!

  27. avatar

    Tourism is widespread throughout the world and in Europe it has great importance, yes ..
    ..but you have to see it in a different way too. Those of the country or city and its inhabitants.
    In many countries there are so many tourists that it is almost impossible for the inhabitants to live normally or walk on the streets without colliding with a tourist.

    My opinion is that having too much tourists in a country / city is not the best and there is a need to do something, as it certainly cannot go on.

  28. avatar

    Just restrict tourism in a couple of those most visited places for no more than a year and you’ll have your answer for all of them. But you’ll still have demonstrations when tens of thousands will have to commute dozens of miles just to work for even less money in factories, agriculture or construction.

  29. avatar

    I completely agree with a statement that touristic cities become unlivable. I can share my experience about Portugal. I come from a town were I couldn’t find a job for years as a young professional to Lisbon. Thanks to good advertising campaigns millions of tourists flow to Lisbon. I agree that tourists leave money and create jobs, but also have negative side effects like rising prices and overpriced rent. Now it is impossible to find apartment in Lisbon if you have average salary. Just like most of my coleagues I had to move far outside and even there many apartments were rented for tourists on AirBnb. In my opinion EU makes too little and local government makes quite nothing. I don’t mean limiting tourisms, but illegal rent such as AirBnb, which basically is black market. And maybe municipalities should build more rental houses for locals, leaveing touristic areas for hotels and short term rental apartments.

  30. avatar

    YESSSSSS! It´s a kind of desease, like the black plague!

  31. avatar

    No, just travel in the low season. And why do you need to fly all the way to New
    Zealand when the UK countryside looks exactly the same?

  32. avatar

    No killing the cities but suffocating yes, they are.

  33. avatar

    Not the turists kills the city. The problem is the others that come were are a lot of turists, the baggers , same streets art that has nothing to do with art, pocket pickers and thiefs that target tourists that have to leave next day and don’t have time to stay and work with police to indentificate them , drugs and porstitutions.

    • avatar

      In Italy tourists are vandals. They carve their names on the monuments, if they’re visiting an archaeological area they sit on the ruins, eat and leave trash all around. They let their kids play where they shouldn’t. They touch the statues, use flash when taking photos when it’s not permitted. They have NO RESPECT for our artistic and cultural heritage. They speak loudly in churches and museums, they wash their feet in important fountains. They look at a museum in the same way they look at a supermarket. They take our heritage as a commodity. They even STEAL little archeological finds when they can. As a souvenir. Pure consumerism. Most of them are American, of course

    • avatar

      Riccardo – I shouldn’t like this but I do cause I guess you are right about it all and I like the writing style too!

    • avatar

      Riccardo, I come from a soon to be gentrified town and I get offended when visitors think the cafe in the local market is too expensive, take pictures of the ladies selling flowers but not bying anything, the fishermen having their picture taken but not being able to pay rent, same as everyone in the historic neighbourhood. I am a tourismophobe as we have always been poor due to geographical constraints and no money from this tourism is going to us. Once all natives are gone who will tell our history?

  34. avatar

    No, but illegal migration does! Just take a look at greek islands or southern part of Italy…

    • avatar

      Unfortunately yes…

    • avatar

      who says who is illegal migrant? For me, you are illegal migrant on this planet. Who do you think you are? Maybe, one day, I will think you are not so good as me, so you don’t deserve to be. It’s this legal?!?

    • avatar

      Your way of thinking makes me curious. But for sure, you have your point of view :). My appreciations! 👍

    • avatar

      And f***** tourists – unlike immigrants, a lot of them are totally disrespectful towards our heritage

  35. avatar

    Sousa Incrising the rent values.

  36. avatar

    Have you ever been in Greece islands or southern Italy? In the last 5 years?
    No, it isn’t organised crime that ruins southern Italy. It’s the MIGRANTS

  37. avatar

    Tourism brings fresh money to the cities. Impossible to kill them. Not managing well kill the cities.

  38. avatar

    Difficult one. First of all, I think city’s with lots of tourists should not mimimi but take the money and do something with it, with and for their citizens. But politicians and burocrats we know that doesn’t end well. Second, in a way yes they do. Tourist that are coming with a mylife checklist. Running around with phones and superficial respect getting done as much as possible before the all in buffet that they are secretly longing for. City’s are not museums. They are something and should be something that lives by the people who enhabitates them.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.