The world’s most beautiful places are being loved to death. Tourists ought to think hard about why and how they are travelling
Last week Cornwall became the latest beauty spot on the planet to admit it was the victim of its own success in attracting tourists. Such is the swell in numbers that there’s barely enough space to place a beach towel on the sands of Porthcurno beach and Kynance Cove. The local tourist board, tasked with getting people to come to the coast, has resorted to pleading with people to stay away. No doubt the long, hot summer sent people scuttling for the coast. But Cornwall’s overtourism problem highlights a number of familiar trends. First is how society now views nature itself as merely one more good to be consumed; second, the shallow, modern need to present a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job in the tight frame of Instagram; last, the influx of “set-jetters”, who seek out the locations of their favourite television dramas or films.
In the case of Cornwall, the fans of the BBC’s Poldark arrived in such numbers that it threatened what attracted them in the first place: the tranquil sublimity of the Cornish Caribbean. Others have taken more drastic steps to curb fans’ insatiable appetite to visit places depicted on screen. Croatia’s Dubrovnik, used as the fictional King’s Landing on TV’s Game of Thrones, has limited the daily numbers that can enter the historic old town. Thailand’s Maya Bay, location for the film The Beach, was shut to tourists who came in such large numbers that they spoiled the place they were meant to enjoy.