Why I Refuse to Travel to “Insta” Destinations

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Not just because I want to be more environmentally aware / active, but hype for no reason other than a few thousand Retweets and a couple comments suggesting it is “goals” is repelling. For those who know me personally, they will know I have a habit of commenting on most popular trends which have no explanation as to why they have become so widespread. Today, my chosen topic for scrutiny is viral travel destinations.

The admiration social media users have of travel hotspots has actually caused some issues. These problems are not Tweeted about so much…

Swamped Santorini

The prime example of a “Twitter Holiday” (not an official term, but one which fits the point) is Santorini. I was sick of seeing:

“Omg 😍 NEED to go”

“Me + my boo + this sunset = GOALS”

“I guess Heaven does exist…”

Well, something along those lines anyway. Over the past couple years, my timeline has been bombarded by ‘influencers’ who know how to provide a pretty aesthetic. The volume of content which contained videos of the, I must say beautiful, Santorini sunset over the distinct whitewashed buildings was surprisingly high. I say surprising because I found it to be slightly random. Why was everyone obsessing with Santorini all of a sudden?

Overwhelmed

Whatever caused the viral yearn for a week in Santorini, it has caused a huge spike in visitors to the island. From their perspective, it may have been seen as an opportunity to boost the economy. However, is the weight of pros heavier than its binary opposite? It does not seem so.

The small island has not been able to deal with this unexpected surge of tourism. Although it was already one of the most popular destinations in Greece, the number of tourists that visited in 2018 and 2019 was much higher than usual. According to Greek Travel Pages, Santorini saw more than 2 million visitors by the month of November. The island saw 1.7 million after the entirety of 2017. We are talking nearly half a million more visitors than the previous year. As a result of this, the island has put a cap on visitors to the island. Greek City Times picked up a remarkable statistic which tells you all you need to know. They mentioned that on some days, there were up to 18,000 visitors descending from cruise ships alone. There are approximately 15,000 people who live on the island…

Nikos Chrysogelos, a Greek politician and environmentalist, fears that Santorni (and the entirety of Greece) do not have the infrastructure for the fast-growing tourism in the country. No European country has seen this growth of tourism in the past decade (Telegraph, 2018).

Think Before Travelling

It is all well and good seeing the world. We all want to do it. Our planet is a wonderful place with many memorable sights and experiences to be had. Don’t be selfish. ‘Overtourism’ will damage the ecology of our most admired destinations. Are you really serious about the environment if you contribute to the issue? Are you really the caring, rational, considerate millennial you shape your social media to reflect? Are the aesthetics for a good Instagram photo more important than the livelihood of those who live in these exhausted destinations?

Where to Now?

Like most trends, people got over it. I no longer see the views of Santorini every third tweet. Influencers have moved onto the next place…

…Kyoto, Dubrovnik and Venice just to name a few.

Overtourism is an issue not enough people are aware of. It’s not an easy one to get across because travelling is something which the majority wish to do in their lifetime. There is a whole world out there and it’s almost crazy to not want to explore it. But, is it worth damaging the environment and ecology of admired lands for the sake of “living your best life”?

Think about the actual destination before you think about your Instagram.

London is a gimmick….

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You have to pay premium for London. It’s expensive. We know that. But why? That’s the ultimate question really. It goes beyond the fact that it’s the capital city; it’s all about the image. Many agree with the idea that ‘London is more a brand than it is a city’ as you can see on our Twitter poll here.

The Rest of the Country Exists

Most of the stereotypes which tourists outside the country have of the UK are predominantly London-based. Some of them are way off. I remember on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was younger, we were on a bus with some other world-wonder seeking humans. We (by we I mean my parents because I was only 11 years old and awkward) were talking to a married couple, who happened to be American, and the topic of travelling (on our travel) came up. We asked them if they had ever been to the UK and they said not as of then. For some reason, it was on their wish list. I say ‘for some reason’ probably because I know what to expect from this place and they didn’t. Long story short, they thought Shakespeare was from London. In fact, they couldn’t even name a single city outside of London.

That’s quite shocking. But it makes London a very (if not, the only) popular destination in England. It means the stereotypes tourists had of London, even if they were somewhat accurate, are turned into money grabbing extortionate gimmicks.

Lost Culture?

Red buses, Big Ben, geezers, pubs, the underground, black cabs, phone boxes, the Royal Family, posh accents, etc. The list goes on. These are all gimmicks now.

I’m going to use the pub culture as an example because it’s something which is close to my heart and it makes me feel somewhat glad that I am not from London. It’s a big part of the London culture. You finish your 9 to 5 on a Friday and head straight to the pub. But come on, £6 for a pint? There’s probably some economic reasoning behind that too but personally I think the culture is being rinsed. People will buy that because “it’s the culture”. It’s not, it’s exploitation.

Let’s be honest, the Royal Family are no different to the Kardashians (other than they’re probably a bit less dramatic). Why are we so infatuated with their lives? They do nothing for us. They’re a tourist attraction, just like the Kardashians are a brand. They are one of the main reason’s tourists want to come here and so, to be fair, why not con them into buying tacky and false patriotic souvenirs.

Big Ben…

…surprisingly has not been sponsored by Rolex yet. London has lost its personal value and gained a business value. According to MoneyInc, London is in the top 5 most expensive cities in Europe. Tourism is a huge factor of that. It’s why I call it a ‘designer city’ because you’re paying premium for nothing special. You just think you are because “it’s London”. London city has become one big gimmick.

What do you think?

Some of you will agree, some won’t. I’m very interested to hear what you think. Share us and hashtag “#YouHerdItHere” with your opinion.

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