Kaylyn Kim Sunny Hills High School 12th Grade
Everyone is waiting for their ethereal European summer vacation! Avid tourists await an endless number of sights- the beautiful Buckingham Palace, Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, etc. According to Travel Weekly’s 2022 data, the most popular destination was London, attracting 25% of tourists going to Europe, followed by Paris. Many people have complained through social media that people filled all the crevices of these destinations and trashed them. In fact, after two summers of extremely limited travel, American tourism in Europe increased by sixfold. This summer is not going to improve, because tourism is projected to grow by 55% from 2022.
Places like London hold abundant history and withstanding monuments like the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I, myself, would also love to visit London one day because of its history and beauty. Indeed, London attracts a substantial 19.6 million tourists each year. With this, airplane tickets to Europe are 26% higher than 2019 prices and hotel prices will be at all-time-highs.
Although the summer has just begun, the crowds are already surging in Europe; this is not yet the apex of the storm. Milou Halbesma, the director of Amsterdam’s Rembrandt House Museum, already anticipates swarming tourism activity. Like many other Europeans, she is eager to have more visitors but would appreciate if they would “behave a little bit” more. Particularly, they hope for more genuine, cultural tourism rather than “nuisance tourism” like bachelor parties, where celebrations can get boisterous. Yuna Shin, a senior at Yorba Linda High School, loves traveling, but she is “also a big believer of foreign rules and unspoken manners” and considers travel as a privilege. Similarly, Irene Oh, a sophomore at Diamond Bar High School, agrees that it is “really disrespectful of tourists” because “they should be mindful of” the residents.
After all, the tourists are guests in European countries and should respect their culture and attractions. Jenn Rice, an American journalist who visited Sicily, remarked that the city was “absolutely insane” and people were packed “like sardines,” flooding the streets. Organizations like Zero Waste Europe are concerned about visitors’ large environmental footprint. They believe that plastic waste, in particular, has greatly contributed to the “decreased value of [popular] tourist destinations.” Additionally, visitors consume great amounts of resources like electricity and pollute the air. Inevitably, more tourism leads to more waste, which angers local residents.
Apart from its crowding and environmental impacts, tourism impedes European citizens from traveling. Train fares often exceed the already excessive airplane fares, making it difficult for the citizens to travel, too. The crowding in these destinations hinder citizens from enjoying their own homeland’s sights, but that has been unavoidable. The prominent issue at hand is the disrespectful visitors and their ecological footprints.
The European Parliament mentions that tourism is the “third largest economic sector in the European Union,” but sustainability measures are necessary for it to be enjoyable. Although the destinations are very meaningful, overcrowding is making these European marvels decreasingly appealing.
<Kaylyn Kim Sunny Hills High School 12th Grade