I would have never thought that tourism could ever possibly be a bad thing. Last spring semester I took a course that analyzed the dynamics of tourism from an objective view (any other tourism class I had taken was taught by the Hospitality Department) but this course was taught by a professor in the Anthropology department. She tried to convince us (mostly all hospitality students) that tourism is exploitative, bad, and could bring harm to entire areas. I did not really think this was at all possible. But now, I am beginning to think my mindset is shifting (slightly).
While I don’t ever want tourism to be a bad thing (for the sake of my job outlook!) it has become apparent that Dubrovnik is simply exhausted from the tourists. Before I came over, everyone talked about the “high-season” in Dubrovnik, the time when most of the tourists come and flock the main street of Stradun, and when the locals stay in their homes. This season used to only be from May-September (at the very latest). I came to Dubrovnik with this understanding; that most restaurants and tourists shops would either close or have limited hours come late September. I had even heard it from the locals.
But then the end of September came and went, and nothing changed. The city was as busy as ever. I thought maybe the tourists would stop coming in October. But here it is, November 4th, and there are still massive cruise ships in port and tour buses visiting the city. The city is definitely less busy than before, but there are still tourists everywhere. On November 1st some restaurants and shops just closed their doors, but very few. 90% of the shops are still open, so I started asking shop owners and workers when they will be closing for the season, and most are staying open through mid-December.
The local people used to work so hard from May through September and make enough money to live off of the rest of the months without working, or doing minimal work. Now, these people are forced to work much longer, with virtually no break at all. This is why I think tourism has had a negative impact on the locals of Dubrovnik.
The mass tourism that Dubrovnik has seen in recent years have consistently broken records each year in a row. This year, they had a record breaking number of visitors climb the UNESCO protected walls of Dubrovnik. This means that these walls that are centuries old are being eroded at a much higher rate year after year, and more repairs and maintenance is needed in order to preserve them.
Most of the visitors in Dubrovnik are from cruise ships, and only have hours in the city. They are not contributing much to the local economy. Other visitors are only staying on average 2 and a half days, not contributing significantly to the local economy either.
While the tourists create garbage, human waste, erode the historic city faster, and exhaust the employees, they are creating a bad rep for tourism. This is why tourism can be bad. BUT, that doesn’t mean that Dubrovnik is not a beautiful and amazing place to visit. By becoming a smarter tourist, we can create ways to educate tourists and invent new sustainable tourism activities.
As always, thanks for reading!