Les 10 destinations à éviter

Are you planning to travel this summer but don’t know (yet) where to go? Be careful, some destinations are to be absolutely avoided if you want to preserve the planet and the local populations.

This is revealed the anti-guide Fodor’s Travel, which publishes an annual list of places victimized by mass tourism. Going there in summer is harmful for the environment but also for the experience of holidaymakers.

Mass tourism, a scourge for ecology

Tourism accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this figure is expected to rise by 2030, according to Fodor’s Travel. But this is not the only negative impact of mass tourism: it leads to pressure on supply chains, destruction of wildlife habitat, overpopulation and degradation of cultural heritage.

Faced with this alarming observation, Fodor’s Travel invites travelers to adopt a more responsible approach and reflect on the choices they make. “We can have a positive impact on this world that we love so much,” says the editor. It does not prohibit anyone from going to discover these regions: it is however better to go there during the season with a lower influx so as not to harm the ecosystem.

Étretat and the creeks, 2 French jewels under threat

Among the 10 destinations to avoid in 2023, two are in France: Étretat and the creeks on the outskirts of Marseille. These two exceptional natural sites are victims of their own success and suffer the consequences of overtourism.

Étretat, in Normandy, is known for its cliffs carved by the sea. But the city of 1,400 inhabitants welcomed more than 1.1 million tourists in 2021 despite the health crisis. Result: the erosion of the cliffs is accelerating, the waste is accumulating and the inhabitants feel overwhelmed.

Faced with this situation, the municipality has decided to put in place “demarketing” measures to discourage new visitors. In particular, it removed the signs indicating the direction of Étretat, limited parking and increased the tourist tax. Moreover, picking up pebbles on the beach is totally prohibited.

The creeks, in the vicinity of Marseille, are also threatened by the influx of tourists. These coves with turquoise waters are a paradise for hikers, divers and nature lovers. But they are also fragile and harbor a unique biodiversity.

To protect this natural heritage, the Calanques National Park has decided to limit the number of daily visitors in certain areas since last year. Didier Réault, president of the national park, explains that “the overcrowding which could reach 2500 people per day was really devastating”. Between locals and vacationers, the small coves became uninhabitable.

Europe, the most affected by overtourism

Besides these two French destinations, several other regions of Europe are in the top 10 places to avoid this summer. It is not just the Mediterranean basin that is affected by this scourge. The UK and the Netherlands are also popular destinations that are at risk.

  • Venice (Italy): the city of the Doges is overwhelmed by tourists arriving by cruise ship or plane. The lagoon is polluted, the monuments are damaged and the inhabitants flee the city. Steamers are no longer allowed to dock there.
  • The Amalfi Coast (Italy): this region south of Naples offers spectacular landscapes between sea and mountains. But it is also a victim of its own success and sees its congested roads, its crowded beaches and its villages losing their authenticity. The same goes for the island of Capri, just opposite.
  • Cornwall (England): this peninsula in the south-west of England is famous for its wild coasts, its picturesque ports and its Celtic culture. But it is also invaded by tourists looking to escape the big cities and enjoy the mild climate. This area popular with the British elite attracts tourists for its picturesque villages.
  • Amsterdam (Netherlands): the Dutch capital is a popular destination for its heritage, nightlife and canals. But it is also saturated by tourists who harm the quality of life of the inhabitants and the preservation of the environment.

Antarctica and Thailand are not spared

Finally, two more distant destinations complete the ranking of places to avoid in 2023: Antarctica and Thailand.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest and most isolated continent in the world. But it also attracts more and more tourists who want to discover its frozen landscapes and its exceptional fauna. However, tourism has a negative impact on this fragile ecosystem and contributes to global warming.

Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia that seduces travelers with its cultural diversity, its heavenly beaches and its gastronomy. But it is also confronted with mass tourism which generates social, environmental and health problems.

Fodor’s Travel is not asking travelers to boycott these destinations, but to choose them knowingly and to respect them. There are also many alternatives to travel differently and discover places less frequented but just as fascinating. However, these destinations can be visited outside peak periods: this allows nature to better protect itself.