The link between over tourism and social media

By Arwa Al-Sahli

Living in Kuwait may come with many luxuries; however one cannot avoid the abysmal heat and unbearable boredom. For some, to escape such conditions is to travel. However, some locations are affected by overtourism, defined as when an area receives far more visitors than it can handle. This raises a question: what could cause certain locations to be more sought after as ‘tourist-spots’ than others? I raise a part to such an answer: Social media.

It is natural for anyone — influencer or not — to post photographs or videos online while they are on vacation. It is human nature to share your experiences with others. It is also quite like human nature to take notice of such photos, to feel jealous, envious, wanting such experiences for your own. In a way, it is advertising. If enough of your friends post that they are at an exotic resort for the weekend, surely, you would like to visit as well. This can cause problems, especially if said exotic resort is suffering from overtourism.

For years and years, Hawaii, a popular vacation destination, has been asking the public to stop visiting its beaches and resorts. Its ecosystem and infrastructure have been disrupted by littering, deforestation and the constant construction of new hotels and resorts, all feeding into the tourism industry. This issue is highlighted even further when one realizes that the severity of the Hawaii wildfires, starting in early August 2023 (primarily on the island of Maui), have been accelerated by human activity straining resources such as housing, water and electricity. Thankfully, the United States government has made disaster funding available to help affected individuals.

What this recent event highlights is how overtourism can bring down a location, affecting its land and natives, and how well such a location can respond to natural disasters. The primary cause of overtourism is not only social media — it is a multifaceted issue; however, it is a certain factor, especially in the modern, digital world. We, as people all living on the same earth, must not be so ready to allow ourselves to be affected by the need to document our lives, to do anything for the perfect photo. Perhaps preserving our planet’s natural beauty is more important than a weekend vacation.