European cities ranked worst for over-tourism 2017

Barcelona in Spain ranked as the worst city for overtourism in Europe. It was followed by Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Venice in Italy. All three have faced issues associated with mass tourism and have been forced to implement measures to tackle problems with overtourism.

What is “overtourism”?

‘Overtourism’ is a term coined by the travel and tourism industry to refer to problems arising from high numbers of tourists concentrated in a destination. Problems can range from environmental, such as the damage high tourism intensity has on the ecology of a destination, to the societal, in the impact that tourism has on local life and the economy. The Overtourism Score by TravelBird defined overtourism as “destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably”. The score therefore focused on how overtourism affected residents’ willingness to accommodate and welcome visitors.

The score was calculated based on an analysis of key factors: the amount of accommodation relative to the number of tourists visiting, the number of tourists visiting in peak season compared to the number of residents, and a survey that asked residents to rate how positively or negatively they feel tourism impacted them in peak season.

Sustainable tourism growth

Europe is the most visited region in the world. Although governments recognize travel and tourism’s economic contribution, destinations have been forced to address dissatisfaction among locals and increased pressure on local resources. The United Nations has already developed a plan to achieve sustainable tourism goals worldwide over the next decade, including engaging local populations in development and advancing urban infrastructure. Other local initiatives include attempts to reduce the number of large cruise ships at popular port destinations and encouraging visitors to stay in nearby destinations and to contribute to local businesses.

Ranking of the worst cities for over-tourism in Europe in 2017*

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Release date

October 2017



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* The methodology states that the research involved an analysis of the top 500 destinations based on arrival numbers (according to UNWTO data). Overtourism was then calculated by analyzing the tourism carrying capacity of each city. The source adds the following information: "The following factors were examined: the number of licensed hotel beds in addition to the number of peer to peer available beds (per square kilometer), which indicates if the city has adequate tourist accommodation. Next we looked at the number of tourists during the peak travel season as compared to the number of residents, which indicates levels of overcrowding. Following this, we conducted a representative poll of 1,000 residents in each city asking them to rate how positively or negatively they feel impacted by tourists during the high travel season. Using all of this data, we then calculated a score which rates cities by how well they manage their tourism carrying capacity."

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