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Too Many Tourists - 8/24/15

Many cities around the world strive to attract tourists by supporting hotel development, financing sporting venues, building convention centers and funding marketing organizations.  But there are some cities that actually work to keep visitors away.  As reported in Bloomberg, the mayor of Barcelona has advocated for a cap on the number of tourists in the city, the world’s eleventh largest destination for overnight visitors last year. 

In twenty fourteen, Barcelona attracted nearly seven point four million overnight visitors, nearly four times the city’s population.  Short-term rentals through services like Airbnb are already illegal there.  In Lisbon, an emerging European destination expected to receive three point six million overnight foreign visitors this year, about six point five times resident population, a group called People Live Here advocates for protecting locals against the tide of tourists. 

One can find similar efforts in cities like Berlin and Hong Kong.  Part of the reason is that tourist behavior is changing.  Researchers say that once upon a time, tourists could be herded into parts of town especially meant for them known as tourist bubbles or enclaves.  But today’s tourists are looking for more authentic experiences, which induces them to come into greater contact with annoyed locals.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.