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What:In an effort to combat overtourism in Europe, Intrepid Travel recently launched new tours in off-the-radar European destinations (such as Moldova and Belarus) and doubled off-season departures to popular European destinations. This year, Intrepid saw a 50 percent increase in North American bookings for tours to Europe.
Why It Matters:Overtourism doesn’t help the environment, the destination, the local community or your bottom line as a travel advisor. Sending a client to an overly saturated destination will often result in a less-than-enjoyable experience. It’s best to be frank with clients — tell them about the on-the-ground experience they can expect — and let them know that plenty of alternatives exist. Take a cue from Intrepid: Double down on off-season departures and trips offering unique experiences.
Fast Facts:- According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Europe has seen a 6 percent increase in global travelers this year.
- MMGY Global’s “Portrait of American Travelers” reports that 52 percent of Americans plan to visit Europe in the next two years.
- The off season for Europe travel is between October and March. Intrepid increased European departures for this period by 220 percent since 2016.
- Intrepid is offering tours in Moldova, one of the least-visited countries in the world according to the UNWTO; Poland’s Tatra Mountains, billed as an alternative to the Alps; Belarus, which features more forest than any other European nation; Finland, positioned as an alternative to Iceland; and Cyprus, a relatively unexplored Mediterranean island.
What They Are Saying:“We have long been concerned about overtourism and its impacts, but this summer, the topic has come up as one of the biggest issues facing the travel industry,” said Leigh Barnes, North America director for Intrepid Travel. “Our style of travel is focused on low-impact, off-the-beaten-path experiences, so in developing our 2018 Europe product, we wanted to focus on new frontiers that stand to benefit from more tourism.”
“Developing the new frontiers of Europe is critical for combatting overtourism,” Barnes said. “Together, the travel industry can better preserve the social fabric of these iconic destinations and allow future generations to enjoy Europe as we have.”