whatever happened to overtourism?

crowds at Rome's Trevi Fountain (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Overtourism was travel's biggest problem in 2019. I took the photograph above when I visited Rome in 2019 while on a walking tour of the city. The first time I came to the Piazza di Trevi in 1978, there might have been a half dozen tourists viewing the fountain. When I returned in 2019, the crowds were so thick that tossing three coins in the fountain would have been nearly impossible.

Scenes like this were rampant throughout the world as recently as last year. Do you remember the crowds at...

Venice's Piazza San Marco — passengers from massive cruise ships occupying every square inch of the square, queued in endless lines just to enter the Basilica and the Doge's Palace.

London's Crown Jewels in the Tower of London — after standing in line for a chance to see these royal treasures, being rewarded with just a very few seconds in front of the jewels as the moving conveyer took you relentlessly by.

Paris's Mona Lisa, star attraction of the Louvre — after enduring snaking admission and security lines and following signs to the "Jaconde," finding yourself in a gallery filled with hundreds of tourists jammed around a rather small painting on the wall.

lines at St. Catherine's Palace (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

We've experienced all of this. We've seen the lines to get into St. Catherine's Palace (pictured above) and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. We've been jammed into crowded galleries at Vatican Museum in Rome and Versailles outside Paris. We've witnessed thousands of tourists in front of the Main Gate to Buckingham Palace to view the Changing of the Guard.

We can help our clients skip lines, enjoy exclusive access to experiences most tourists don't know about, or even score private visits before or after public visiting hours — when travel comes back...

But for now in 2020, the problem is no longer overtourism. The issue is Covid-19 and the need to practice social distancing. What will world travel look like once we have developed an effective vaccine? Do we need to reimagine travel? This article from The Guardian makes one argument. What do you think?

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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