New association to fight overtourism

AUCKLAND, 1 February 2019: Battling the negatives of overtourism is the watchword for a new association, the World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage, headquartered in New Zealand.

Formed to protect heritage and culture, the association says it will promote ethical practices and better management relating to culture and heritage destinations that are now buckling due to unrestricted visitor growth.

WTACH will also encourage sustainable practices at locations that are still in a honeymoon phase of tourism development.

The creation of WTACH comes at a time when the UNWTO reports that international tourism arrivals hit 1.4 billion in 2018, two years ahead of its previous forecast of 2020. The global economy grew 3.7% in 2018, says UNWTO, propelling international tourism arrivals growth to 6% for the year.

A former director for the Pacific region at the Pacific Asia Travel Association Chris Flynn and Carolyn Childs, CEO of MyTravelResearch are the founding partners of WTACH.

The association was officially launched in China in August 2018 and announced in a feature authored by Chris Flynn in the New Zealand publication Inside Tourism.

Flynn named as chief executive can call on support from a team of 15 advisers including former PATA employees, university lecturer, John Koldowski and PR gurus, Ken Scot and Dale Lawrence.

 “WTACH works with destinations to provide development strategies and policy framework recommendations to avoid the kind of tourism meltdown we are seeing at Angkor Wat, Phi Phi Island and Mt Everest,” said Flynn.

“It’s time for the tourism industry to take step back and look at the long term impact of its decision making.”

The new association says it is deeply concerned that Turkey, for example, has decided to expand tourism arrivals from 40 million in 2018 to 70 million by 2023 – less than four years away.

“What interpretive and cultural safeguards have been put in place?” asked Flynn. “Have local communities been consulted? Is there an actual plan that involves a holistic government approach and key stakeholder and community engagement?”

There’s a wide spread of membership options including tourism ministries, national tourism offices, NGOs, educational institutions, private commercial firms and media.

The highest membership fee, at USD4,750 a year, covers countries with a population of more than 10 million and the lowest covers educational institutes at USD470.