Travel Tip about the Cost of Tourism
Help a culture maintain their awesomeness.
I was looking for inspiration all week for this week’s travel tip Tuesday post. I finally got it two days ago when I saw a post on this excellent website that allows you to look at where you are traveling and pick out your price level and see what things cost in a particular place. I used it to see if a tour operator was gouging me on a cool tour that I was thinking about setting up for 2018 or not. As it turned out, she charged a very fair price and was not gouging me. I completely fell in love with this website and my intent was to write about it, but unfortunately, I lost the website address, and my phone didn’t keep a history. I’m bummed, but I figure there must be a reason for that, so I put a shout out on the travel group that I got it from originally, and hopefully with any luck, they will respond, and I will write on it at a later date.
While I was deliberating about it and googling the Cost of tourism in twenty different ways, It did get me thinking.
In my book, Lessons from the Road: USA In the chapter for Arizona, I talked about Sedona, and talked a bit about how a place can be super cool and I was ready to meet my tribe of Sedonuts but as soon as it’s found out, and a bunch of people go there and decide to live there, they almost always bring with them their cultural norms which may or may not have anything to do with the culture of a place prior to them moving there, subsequently the place is no longer what it was, but rather a washed out version of itself.
Responsible Tourism is no longer just an ECO-friendly term, it also encompasses the impacts to a culture.
Of course, land features really never go away, but often what makes a place unique, is the people and the culture of those people that once lived there. Even within the United States, there are very distinct regional cultural differentiators in speech and acceptable norms as far as ways of behaving that can be very different from place to place. Lots of foreigners even within the same country that buy into an area makes that area not what it was and becomes something else. [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Some might say this is progress, I say this is the cost of tourism.[/perfectpullquote]
I met a woman last night at a book talk to provide a presentation of my book to a women’s group. She was also a fellow road tripper, and we both agreed that South Dakota and Arkansas were very cool. Both of us were surprised by how wonderful these places are and that you would never know it, until you go there and experience it for yourself. Neither of those states typically would be on most people’s vacation list. They just aren’t on anyone’s radar.
I also wrote in my book about talking to the people at the visitor’s centers in South Dakota telling them how they should do a better job of marketing the state because everyone needs to see it. I remember their response was cordial and they thanked me for my enthusiasm for their state and how happy they were that I was enjoying my time there but they also indicated that their infrastructure was at a place where they handle all the tourists they currently get, and doing any more would not be good for the area. Wise people.
Honestly, I never really understood it myself until very recently when I saw this picture
Please click the image to make it large enough to read.
It never occurred to me that AirBNB was going to create this mess. I remember seeing this picture on a post by a tourist in Venice. She was completely irritated to have found it on a pole. She went on and on about how she was spending her hard earned money in their country and how insensitive they were being and that they should be more thankful. I mean really, How dare they! I responded to her post that perhaps she might want to try and put herself in their shoes. How would you feel, if you lost your family home because the landlord said you are out of here, I make more money on Airbnb, bye! It calmed her down a bit, but she was really upset.
Here is a link to an article on tourism impacts – https://www.planetizen.com/node/70813
I remember meeting people in Lisbon Portugal at the laundromat, that expressed concern because they also ran into this problem. They were so cute. They had a really cute baby and were excited that they finally saved enough money and were doing ok to move out of their parent’s house. They both grew up in Lisbon and wanted to stay there. They indicated that it was getting harder and harder to find apartments, because people are converting them to Airbnb to make money.
Airbnb’s presence is definitely felt throughout all of Europe. In Germany, they were smart enough to see this problem coming and passed a law that in Berlin, Airbnb would only be allowed if it was in the case that someone had an extra bedroom and people would stay in their apartments with them. Instead of people snapping up apartments and immediately putting them on Airbnb to sublet. I think this is a good idea.
Tourism is morphing
Airbnb used to be an affordable travel option, and I have used Airbnb in limited cases when I could not find a Couchsurf host or even a hotel in some places, but I am finding that it is not so affordable anymore. One example of this is in Princeton NJ. People in that area were charging over $200.00 a night for a bedroom in a regular home. I attempted to stay in an AIr BNB in Santa Cruz Ca and in that area the hotel prices are very expensive and I figured Airbnb would be better. It appeared that most people found the closest hotels and undercut that price by 10 – 20 dollars. Not really the savings that it used to give you.
I also used AirBNB in the case where I was spending a long time in one place like when I went to Portugal for three months and didn’t want to move around a lot because I wanted to make sure that the I could work without internet interruption. Three months of couch surfing, is just plain freeloading, I thought Airbnb would be a good option, and I did indeed stay with someone in their home. On a side note, I never quite understood why Airbnb is so popular unless you were the person holding the lease. In my eyes, Couchsurfing is the same thing, only free, and the hosts were actually into hosting not just making money. I guess people see it as a business transaction on Airbnb, so that somehow makes it different and safer. No matter how you look at it, you are still staying in a stranger’s house, but I digress.
Here is a link about being a responsible tourist. http://www.responsibletravel.com/resources/future-of-tourism/travel-trends.htm
If you are traveling, try to get into a small group tour that uses only local tour providers or experiences with local people. Try to interact with the locals as much as possible. You will learn so much more about the culture this way. If you consider using Airbnb for a travel adventure, please be responsible and stay with people in their homes. Do not opt for your own apartment, you may be impacting someone’s ability to obtain a place to live in a place that their family had resided in for generations. It really is a small thing that you can do to help the local economy without hurting the culture at the same time.
But wait there is more!
A special surprise ending
Please see the small print on the last line of the picture Welcome to Venice. To make the picture bigger and more legible, click the picture on this blog. Trying not to give it away, but you will understand how tourism impacts us all.
Great article Margaret! I think the conversion of entire apartments a d buildings into Airbnb units can play itself out in a free market. In real popular places people might still loose their apartment and hotels would get build because landlord s will sell out. It is not always fair. Maybe it’s worse to enable this with dirtcheap flights. Under the bottom line we vote with how we spend our money. So tourists are responsible in making good choices as you suggested. Again, thank you for your great insights. I did rent an entire apartment in Paris next to the Louvre, but an apartment there is a room with kitchenette and a private bath. It was owned by a single mom who has two of these and makes a living this way. They keep the building s Up. Paris had been falling apart without these type of opportunities. It’s tough to say where to draw the line. I prefer the tourist to draw the line for themselves, and that in the spirit of a responsible tourist.
Hi Thomas, Thank you for your response. I agree with you that each tourist should draw the line for themselves. This article get’s to an issue that many people in the United States don’t know about or understand the impacts. I just like to be able to inform people about travel items so that they can make an educated and informed decision, I’m pretty sure no one really wants to be the reason that someone was evicted from their home or have prices rise so high that it creates an economy the local people can not afford. I understand the appeal of having a whole apartment to ones self, but I’d like to counter that often when I have stayed with someone in their home using AirBNB, I have gotten a private bedroom with an ensuite bathroom with kitchen privileges. All in all though for me, I believe that the culture of the place lies with the people of that place and nothing beats spending time with the locals. I’d like to encourage people to get out there past their comfort zones and meet the locals, that’s where the magic happens.