Is Overtourism overused? Understanding the impact of tourism in a city context

K Koens, A. Postma, B Papp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)
227 Downloads (Pure)


In less than two years, the concept of overtourism has come to prominence as one of the most discussed issues with regards to tourism in popular media and, increasingly, academia. In spite of its popularity, the term is still not clearly delineated and remains open to multiple interpretations. The current paper aims to provide more clarity with regard to what overtourism entails by placing the concept in a historical context and presenting results from a qualitative investigation among 80 stakeholders in 13 European cities. Results highlight that overtourism describes an issue that is multidimensional and complex. Not only are the issues caused by tourism and nontourism stakeholders, but they should also be viewed in the context of wider societal and city developments. The article concludes by arguing that while the debate on overtourism has drawn attention again to the old problem of managing negative tourism impacts, it is not well conceptualized. Seven overtourism myths are identified that may inhibit a well-rounded understanding of the concept. To further a contextualized understanding of overtourism, the paper calls for researchers from other disciplines to engage with the topic to come to new insights.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • city tourism
  • tourismphobia
  • tourism impacts
  • sustainable tourism
  • carrying capacity
  • overtourism
  • urban planning
  • governance
  • destination management
  • touristification
  • Carrying capacity
  • Overtourism
  • City tourism
  • Tourismphobia
  • Urban planning
  • Destination management
  • Touristification
  • Governance
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Tourism impacts


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