“Overtourism” is a word that’s been in
the German news for a few years now; and those of you who watch my videos because
you’d quite like to visit Germany one day are probably wondering how to do it
without contributing to the problem. And I know this is true because everybody who
watches my videos is awesome. Tourism per se isn’t a bad thing, but not all tourists are welcome everywhere. It becomes a problem
when locals are inconvenienced, the character of the places
changes to suit the tourists, or the tourist industry threatens
the economy or the environment. To illustrate how extreme the problem is,
take the island of Sylt, a traditional place for Germans
to spend a few days getting away from it all. It’s not just used to tourists: its entire economy
revolves around the tourist industry. And yet the locals are beginning to say
that they’ve had enough. In 2017, over 900,000 tourists came to Sylt, double the number just 20 years previously. 80,000 of them visited in July: since the average stay is 7 days, this means that at any time during that month
there were about 20,000 visitors on the island. And this is an island with a population of 20,000. As well as the sheer number of visitors, there’s
the problem of their behaviour when they’re there, with residents complaining about
the mess they leave behind. Dog owners are particularly heavily criticized. There’s no easy answer to this. But if you’d like to be part of a solution
and not part of the problem, I do have a few suggestions. These are, of course, all
directly relevant to Germany, but some of them probably
apply elsewhere in the world as well. Always remember that you are a guest, and you should treat the place as you would hope
a guest would treat your home. Be respectful; clean up after yourself. Wherever you are,
remember that it’s not a theme park: people have to actually live and work there; they have to raise children, go shopping, and do all the things that you have to do
when you’re at home. One of the complaints on Sylt is
visitors ignoring the signs and climbing on the cliffs
or straying into nature reserves. The signs aren’t there to spoil your fun: they’re there to stop you
spoiling the place you’re visiting. There are many, many places
where tourists are welcome, while also being a great alternative
to the usual tourist traps. That’s the kind of place
I like to highlight in my “Destination” videos. For example, earlier this year
I visited Herrenberg, a place that would love to have more tourists and
is just as good as Rothenburg ob der Tauber. And why go to the places that everybody goes to? They tend to be expensive,
often a bit disappointing, and… everybody already knows about them. And while you’re there, slow down a little bit. Find out about the place that you’re in. And by that I don’t mean
spend the whole day in museums — although if that’s what you want to do,
don’t let me stop you. What I mean is this: it’s a place with a history;
it’s not just a backdrop for your selfies. By all means take photographs, as many as you want. But you are there to relax
and possibly broaden your mind, not to impress your Instagram followers. When I film for a Destination video, I never
really get to appreciate the place: I experience it through a viewfinder. Don’t do that, unless you are in fact
filming a travel documentary. And try to find ways of supporting
the local economy. For example, I would suggest wherever possible
avoiding Airbnb. So many of those places are basically
being run as illegal hotels, and this is causing serious problems. It puts pressure on the housing market,
which is already overstretched, making it harder for locals
to find a place to live. Staying in a budget hotel
or a traditional guest house means that those places can provide employment. And in most places in Germany,
a special tax goes directly to help finance the local tourist infrastructure. Basically, this can be summed up like this: don’t always follow the crowd, be a responsible guest, and think about where your money’s going. Thanks for watching. If you’d like to
send me a postcard, here’s the address. And don’t forget to visit my website
and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, if you’d like access
to special bonus content and help with the costs of running this channel, please consider making a small
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