January 23, 2019

Too much of a good thing: Venice’s tourism wave highlights industry’s struggle to become sustainable


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Venice, Italy is the most recent vacation hotspot overrun by tourists, prompting the popular destination to implement a “visitor’s tax” on day trips to the historic city, Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro recently tweeted.

This is of no surprise to a leading researcher on sustainable travel.

“There’s been an interesting change in the way we think about tourism, particularly over the last couple of years,” said Jonathon Day, an associate professor in Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Venice trash Tourists can have a big impact on the economies, heritage and environment at vacation destinations, says Jonathon Day, an associate professor in Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. (Stock photo)

“Back in the day, it was hard to imagine what unsustainable tourism might look like, but now, we have more and more examples, whether you look at Barcelona or Venice, where they’re just overwhelmed by the number of visitors they’re having.”

Day, author of “An Introduction to Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel,” over the past decade has studied the positive and negative effects of tourism on communities across the globe and how the harmful aspects of the industry can be mitigated. He also is chair of travelcarecode.org, which offers simple tips for vacationers to reduce their economic and environmental footprint while respecting destinations’ culture and traditions.

“We keep these three things working together for the benefit of the communities; this is what’s called ‘the triple bottom line,’ so that all of these things are balanced,” Day said. “Perhaps we’re not making as much money as we could, but we’re balancing that with the idea of a better community to live in, a nicer environment to experience.”

During National Plan for Vacation Day, a Jan. 29 initiative encouraging Americans to take more time off work, travelers should consider these tips while planning a more sustainable spring break or summer trip, Day said.

* Learn about your destination.

Jonathan Day Jonathon Day, an associate professor in Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said travelers should consider planning a more sustainable vacation. (Purdue University photo)
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* Don’t leave your good habits at home.

* Be a fuel-efficient traveler.

* Make informed decisions.

* Be a good guest.

* Support locals.

* Dispose of your waste properly.

* Protect your natural surroundings.

* Make your travel zero emissions.

* Bring your experiences home.

Day’s work aligns with Purdue's giant leaps celebration, acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

Writer: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541, paul102@purdue.edu 

Source: Jonathon Day, 765-496-2084, gjday@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: A video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kmf4G6YbuU&feature=youtu.be

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