Why do we travel to new countries? This is a question that invokes many different answers. We all have our own reasons for travelling to a new country but often you’ll find they’re broken down into the following categories:  

  • For a holiday  
  • To experience different cultures 
  • For self-development e.g. learning a new language 
  • Obligatory e.g. to visit friends/family or your company/work’s global offices 

Have you spotted any we haven’t included? How about ‘to visit tourist attractions’? This is one reason that fits in nicely with our Travel and Tourism HND. We bet, if you name several countries, you’d also be able to list tourist attractions that are located there. China? We all know about the Great Wall. Australia? The Sydney Opera House is rather beautiful at night. America? Who hasn’t heard of the Statue of Liberty? Often, when we visit a new country there is a tourist attraction we’d like to visit. Today we look at how tourist numbers are impacting these attractions. 

Tourist Attractions – The Latest News 

Recent reports have identified an issue India is having with one of its most famous tourist attractions: the Taj Mahal. The problem isn’t a lack of numbers; in fact, the attraction’s popularity is proving difficult to manage. In a bid to preserve the 17th-century monument by reducing wear and tear, India are looking to restrict the number of visitors to 40,000 per day. The building is intended to be a symbol of serenity, but today, “a morning at the Taj Mahal is usually an exercise in survival – an attritional process of pushing, jostling and trying to keep out of the way of carelessly wafted selfie sticks,” reports the Telegraph. The moves comes after five visitors were injured during a “small stampede” at one of the entry gates last month (December 2017). The Independent reports that overcrowding is a common theme among the world’s most popular tourist attractions.

Tourist Attractions – The Battle 

The Taj Mahal is just one of the many tourist attractions around the globe debating the question: ‘should we be protecting the past or profiting from it?’ Tourism and tourist attractions in particular can hugely benefit a local economy as they bring in money from tourists but at the same time these visitors can also inflict unintentional wear and tear on a landmark like the Taj Mahal. Is there a way to balance both elements or will there come a time when access to such tourist attractions is restricted completely to protect and preserve their beauty? With today’s global population being more travelled and informed than ever before, it’s looking more likely that we’ll see the latter. Visiting an iconic monument that holds immeasurable historic worth is certainly up there on many bucket lists.  

The Answer? 

India’s answer of restricting tourist numbers to safeguard the Taj Mahal for future generations follows in the footsteps of other governments looking to protect their landmarks. In June 2017, Machu Picchu in Peru introduced timed tickets in a bid to control tourist numbers; similarly, there is talk of tourist numbers being reduced in the Cinque Terre villages in Italy via a traffic light system on their coastal paths.  

These may be positive steps towards preserving the world’s most famous tourist attractions, but restricting tourist numbers only goes so far. For example, air pollution has caused the pale marble of the Taj Mahal to yellow. The structure is also “assaulted by monkeys, who clamber up its façade,” reports the Telegraph. In China, around 30% of the Great Wall has disappeared over time with reckless human activities – including people stealing bricks – and natural conditions being the culprits. In the US, the famous Everglades has decreased in size by 50% due to factors including climate change, and residential and agricultural developments. 

What Will the Future Look Like? 

It appears the world is creeping ever closer to a time when the most popular tourist attractions are not freely available for anyone who wants to enjoy them. The Telegraph reports that this may happen through restricting visits to those who can afford to attend. This kind of policy could be considered an elitist solution that would only work in the short term. The news company reports such a policy would “spark anger, frustration and no little debate.” 

What’s your opinion on tourist attractions? Should we be able to visit them freely and enjoy their beauty while we still can or should we be appreciating them from a distance? You never know, in the future we might be able to visit them through virtual reality (VR); you’d be able to visit for free while avoiding the overcrowding, potential damage and environmental effect of travelling by plane.    

Visitor Attraction Management is just one of the many exciting modules studied on UKCBC’s Travel and Tourism Management HND. If you’d like to discuss studying with the College, call a UKCBC course advisor right away – they will be happy to answer any questions you have. 

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