Slow tourism vs. Mass tourism

In the early 1980s, when the globalization fad had created a liberal context of modernization in all sectors, a group of activists in Italy led by Carlo Petrini, reacted to the prevailing consumer frenzy, and presented the other side of the coin. They questioned the newest eating habits and thus, introduced the concept of slow food in contrast to fast food. Their aim was to support local traditions, food quality, and culinary experiences. During the following years, this new trend became a broader movement, including many kinds of different projects, which were embraced by millions of people in more than 160 countries.

Within this philosophy of a low pace of life, the term slow tourism was launched as the novel travel trend of our century. As reported by Moira et al. (2017) it seems to be the “antidote” to mass tourism, which is linked with a sort of “consumption” of the place, quick images and fleeting impressions, constant clock-watching, and the stress of seeing as many sights as possible within limits of time pressure.

In contrast, slow tourism aims at promoting tourism in areas that are not widely known while relieving the congestion and pressure in places already established on the tourist map. These tourists like to spend ample time at their chosen destination which will allow them to participate in the daily life of the local community; this involves connecting with the people and their culture, feeling the pulse of nature, and tasting the local products. They actually seek to experience and explore the place in an authentic way.

Likewise, the terms over-tourism and under-tourism have recently aroused.
Over-tourism is defined by tourists overcrowding in widely known areas, mainly during periods of high demand (high season). This type of tourism diminishes the quality of life of the local community while visitors are unable to enjoy the place due to the excessive number of incoming tourists.
On the other hand, under-tourism emerges in less-known destinations which are often close to places receiving a large number of visitors. Those tourists have a preference for tailor-made services in hidden parts of a region and look for experiential experiences that reveal the unique feeling of each destination.

The post-covid19 period appeared to be an opportunity for more sustainable and environmentally friendly behavior and raising awareness among businesses to adopt sustainable practices and attract responsible tourists; a real motivation for tourists to learn how to seek journeys that few are lucky to experience! At the same time. Different polls show the most popular ways to become a more responsible tourist:

  • Domestic tourism (choosing to travel within one’s own country)
  • Selecting green accommodation
  • Interacting with locals
  • Strengthening local businesses and choosing local cuisine and products
  • Respect for local culture, tradition, and heritage
  • Traveling off-season
  • Avoiding air travel
  • Looking to explore places (hidden gems) and catering businesses that are less known

Read more: Is there sustainable tourism?

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