2019-Simon Smith

Overtourism and Tourismphobia: Understanding and addressing paradoxical tensions in creating and maintaining Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)


Co-Investigators: Dr Hugues Seraphin (University of Winchester), Prof Peter Stokes (De Montfort University), Dr Adam Palmer (University of Winchester)

Project summary

Purpose: This research project was designed to understand the phenomenon of overtourism (including tourismphobia) within three destinations within Hampshire (UK). Applying the concept of Organizational Ambidexterity (a paradox theory), we examined and compared different stakeholder perceptions whilst discussing aspects relating to Sustainable Development Goal 11: “to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”. Perceptions around COVID-19 are also included.

Method: Data were collected from 127 respondents within a complex survey design that captures participants acting both as local residents and tourists (i.e. participants become different stakeholders within different destinations). In addition, data were collected from 4 interviews from a third stakeholder perspective, namely those responsible for tourism within the destinations researched.

Findings: The data outlines a number of paradoxical tensions and perceptions regarding overtourism (including COVID-19). There are interesting nuances between destinations and stakeholders, as well as other more general discussion points.

Practical implications: We have sought to understand the existing phenomenon of overtourism (including COVID-19) with a view to sharing existing practice and generating impact for successful sustainable tourism (including SDG 11) addressing the paradoxical tensions outlined in the conceptual application.

Originality: Overtourism is a growing field of interest with a paucity of empirical data. Our project offers valuable insights for understanding and working towards positive impact and change for SDG 11. The theoretical application and choice of destinations (including the variety of stakeholders considered) are unique also and we include perspectives relating to COVID-19.