You may have seen the photo taken a few months ago—a crush of people on holiday, stuck, like any regular tourists, in what seemed to be an endless crawl of a queue. Except they weren’t waiting to enter the Sistine Chapel. No, these hundreds—hundreds!—of tourists were waiting to summit Mount Everest.
If you’ve been feeling that, more and more, there are fewer and fewer places you can go to get away from it all—and from them all—you are right. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, in 1950 leisure visits from one country to another numbered 25 million. By last year, that figure had risen to 1.4 billion—an increase of 5,500 percent. And in little more than a decade, it is forecast to reach 1.8 billion, with China accounting for nearly 25 percent of that number.
Locals in places that are overrun are wondering about the impact. As The Times of London reported, graffiti has appeared in Barcelona asking, “Why call it tourist season if we can’t shoot them?”