The past decade has seen a surge in tourism, driven by a rising middle class across the world, especially in large emerging economies like China. Tourism has also become more affordable and accessible.
Much of this growth has been driven by China. In 2017, Chinese tourists made about 130 million trips abroad.
City governments in some of these hotspots are trying to cope with so-called over-tourism. Venice and Dubrovnik have sought to restrict cruise ships. Amsterdam has tried to curtail tourist shops selling over-priced souvenirs and waffles. Reykjavik is reigning in the indecent behavior of tourists who pour in on cheap flights. Milan has temporarily banned food trucks and selfie sticks in one of its most-frequented neighborhoods. And Rome has prohibited people from eating or cavorting in public fountains, restricted drinking on the streets at night, and sought to limit tourists’ access to popular sites like the Trevi Fountain.
An estimated 22 countries have imposed some form of tourism tax. Historic Alexandria, Virginia, has raised local taxes on restaurant meals by 1 percent and is using the additional revenue for affordable housing. But there are ways to contend with over-tourism that avoid taxation: These include boosting public-private partnerships, improving mobility through new technology, and encouraging tourism operators to pay their workers higher wages.