“Overtourism: Impact and Possible Policy Responses” a study by the European Parliament

The study on “Overtourism: Impact and Possible Policy Responses”, published by the European Parliament in October 2018, addresses the issue of overtourism in the EU. This report, together with the recent one of the UNWTO, provides essential elements to understand and address this important challenge for the Mediterranean region, and is of particular importance for the Interreg MED Sustainable Tourism Community.

(Rome, 29 January 2019) “The situation in which the impact of tourism, at certain times and in certain spaces, exceeds the physical, ecological, social, economic, psychological, and/or political capacity threshold(s) of a destination” is too broad, according to the report “Overtourism: Impact and Possible Policy Responses” published by the European Parliament in October 2018. The study considers that the current indicators of such occurrence does not allow for the prevention of overtourism’s risks as the “lack of an agreed-upon set of indicators makes it impossible to clearly qualify and quantify the number of destinations in a state of overtourism”.


Improving the understanding of overtourism, identifying the associated issues and adapting both practices and policies to soften its negative effects are the main aims of this study report. All issues tackled - singularly or as whole - with concrete pilot actions and studies by the 17 Interreg MED projects joining forces into the MED Sustainable Tourism Community: MEDFEST, EMbleMatiC, BLUEISLANDS, ALTER ECO, MEDCYCLETOUR, CO-EVOLVE, Consume-Less, BLUEMED, TOURISMED, CASTWATER, ShapeTourism, DestiMED, MITOMED+, SIROCCO, COASTING, INHERIT, HERIT-DATA.


The European Parliament report identifies, through the analysis of 41 case studies, the most frequent impacts of overtourism as environmental, economic or socio-cultural, such as pollution, overcrowding, economic dependence, degradation of infrastructures. On the basis of such assessment, it reports the most frequent measures applied by the local authorities to soften these negative impacts, for example through regulations or through the improvement of facilities and services. Policy responses to overtourism are therefore presented. General principles of EU tourism policy found to participate to abate overtourism are extracted. Some of them such as the development of integrated approaches, on the long term, involving all levels of stakeholders, reflecting impacts in costs and undertaking continuous monitoring could be quoted.


The report provides some indicators to measure overtourism such as tourism intensity and density, share of Airbnb, air transport density, and share of tourism in the economy. The report also deplores the impossibility to set up an “early-warning limit” for these same indicators. Despite the extensive analysis of specific cases and local responses, the report points at the lack of reliable and detailed data and the need to develop economic policies improving the socio-economic benefits for residents. It also suggests the creation of a European Overtourism task Force. Overall, the report concludes that addressing overtourism entails the necessity to develop “custom-made policies in cooperation between destinations' stakeholders and policymakers”.


The full version of the study is available here.


Created in November 2016 within the framework of the Interreg MED Programme, the MED Sustainable Tourism Community gathers 18 territorial cooperation projects co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and almost 200 organisations (public authorities, private companies, universities, NGOs and international organisations) active in twelve European-Mediterranean coastal areas. Most notably, the Community’s members are leading the development of common tools to monitor the tourism industry, they are studying and testing new tourism models and they are actively engaging policy makers and managers in a constant dialogue to make tourism a real driver for sustainable development.


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