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Like Italy, Francis says, young people in Spain are draining from the country to the city. Thailand closed the island of Koh Tachai to tourists last year after overcrowding issues, but that hasn’t ended the problem, says Francis; Phuket exemplifies too much tourism.
“Thailand tried to model itself as a paradise, but it’s as far from paradise as you can imagine – there are too many instances of sex tourism, there’s really bad behaviour from tourists, and a growth in drug culture.” Mangrove forests are being degraded in order to build resorts, and the animal welfare at tourists sites is “appalling”, Francis reports.
It can’t handle those numbers.” In peak season, the Golden Circle route is overcrowded and difficult to navigate, he says.
How to do it better: Branch out from the normal itineraries.
Children in the orphanages suffer psychological effects from being repeatedly abandoned, according to Francis.
You shouldn’t visit them, and you should by no means volunteer at them, he warns. If you want to volunteer, find a project that helps parents keep their kids at home.
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Or try: Rural Spain, for a full immersion into the food culture people come to Barcelona for.
It’s called the Butler Model (named after Professor Richard W Butler): a tourist destination is “discovered”, grows exponentially and reaches peak success.
For most places, though, it’s all downhill from there – beaches are overcrowded, queues are long and badly behaved tourists ruin the atmosphere that their predecessors came for.
“In a recent survey, locals declared themselves more concerned about tourism than poverty,” says Francis.
“The city sees three times the number of visitors it did in the 1992 Olympics, and it’s eroding the city’s identity.” How to do it better: Like Venice, visit in shoulder season to minimise impact and provide a steady flow of tourist income.