Top world destinations are overrun. Take these suggestions for roads not taken.

During a trip to the Czech Republic this summer, Bret Love desperately wanted to escape the crowds at Prague Castle but couldn’t. He was stuck in a Vltava River of humanity.

“There were thousands and thousands and thousands of people jostling for space,” said the co-founder of Green Global Travel. “You start to feel like cattle being herded.”

No matter what you call it – overtourism, overbooked or a foreign invasion – it’s the same squeeze: A handful of destinations around the world are under siege by too many tourists. The stampede is having a deleterious effect on the culture, environment and spirit of these places. Locals are getting pushed out. Foundations are crumbling. Tourists are complaining about other tourists.

“You try to keep these cities liveable for the residents,” said Martha Honey, executive director of the Center for Responsible Travel, “but overtourism is killing these neighbourhoods and the reasons we go there.”

Former Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Becker examined the consequences of rampant tourism in her expose, “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism.” The book’s 2013 release coincided with a tourism milestone: For the first time, travellers had logged a billion international trips in one year.

The issue is not the industry itself but the hordes of people who descend on one place during the same time period (often summer). Destinations that are ill-equipped for the masses can’t keep up with the demand, and everyone suffers for it. Becker equates the situation to a dinner party host who plans for 12 guests and 12,000 hungry diners show up.

Travellers can help ease the pressure by tweaking their trips. For instance, visit off season, book tickets to major attractions in advance and venture beyond the historical core. Becker also recommends longer holidays of two weeks over short getaways of two to five days.

“You are planning your trip in a way that will be the least damaging,” she said. “Your footprint is going to be less.”

To further help beleaguered destinations, we singled out 10 spots buckling under the weight of too many feet and provided alternatives that are similar in all but one category: They could use more – not fewer – tourists.

Overbooked: Venice





















The Italian village near Cinque Terre shares its UNESCO designation with the five hamlets, but it is not a Cinque. It is, however, one of three towns that stands guard over the Gulf of Poets, a muse for many writers and painters. One natural landmark even bears the name of a famous British lord and poet: Byron’s Grotto. The train does not service Porto Venere, so most people arrive by ferry or car, which keeps the crowds at a minimum. Most of the dining, drinking and shopping is centred along the waterfront and on the pedestrian street, Via Capellini. If you’re lucky, you might spot an A-lister; Apple CEO Tim Cook and Steven Spielberg have vacationed here. Or maybe you will cross paths with the local celebrity, Tarantolino, Europe’s smallest gecko. The itty-bitty reptile lives in Porto Venere Regional Park, a protected area that covers more than 950 acres of land and sea, including Tino Island. The military base is only open for guided park tours and on Saint Venerio Feast Day (September 13). The celebration honours the seventh-century hermit monk who prot

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