Paradise lost: Beautiful islands busted by tourism

Their unequivocally geographical inlet creates islands utterly disposed to overcrowding – simply put, there’s not adequate room for unconstrained streams of tourists. Here are some of a many worrying examples of islands, many of that were once untouched, descending plant to their possess popularity.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Twenty years ago this small archipelago in a Andaman Sea unequivocally was bliss – and many different – creation it a ideal filming plcae for a vast shade instrumentation of The Beach, Alex Garland’s novel about a hunt for inexperienced backpacker heaven. Now as many as 5,000 people arrive any day on vessel trips from a bustling mainland resorts of Krabi and Phuket, branch Maya Bay, a easeful inlet where many of a film takes place, into a selfie-taking free-for-all. The conditions has turn so bad that Thai authorities recently announced skeleton to completely tighten Maya Bay for 4 months this summer (June 1 until Sep 30) to give a surrounding coral embankment a possibility to recover.

Boat tours deplane on Maya Bay


The tactic has been used on other Thai beaches though this will be a initial time that Maya Bay is sealed to travellers. “Parts of a Similans and Surin islands have been sealed in a past to let a corals recover, though this is a initial for Maya Bay,” explained Lee Cobaj, Telegraph Travel’s Thailand expert. “The closure will be in a center of low season, when sleet is flattering persistent, so we can’t suppose too many tourists will be incited away. But a beach is stupidly bustling in high deteriorate so it’s good to see Thailand putting inlet forward of increase for once.”

Back when Leo was anticipating celebrity in Danny Boyle’s film, Thailand was still deliberate sincerely “off a beaten track”. These days that couldn’t be over from a truth. Last year 35.4m people visited a country, adult from 5.3m in 1990. That’s a lot of untried islands branch into tourists traps (like Ko Phangan, where an airfield is now underneath construction).

And serve expansion is expected. In 2018, Thailand is presaging 37.6m tourists will visit.

Boracay, The Philippines

While not as thespian as Thailand’s, The Philippines has also gifted a swell in tourists. Just over one million went there in 1990 – final year that figure was 6.6m. And roughly a third of those tourists – some-more than dual million – visited one small island measuring usually 3.98 block miles and with a proprietor race of usually 30,000: Boracay. It’s all a some-more conspicuous when we journey that a Philippines has 7,640 other islands to select from, according to a many new guess from a country’s National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

A decade ago, Boracay positively was value visiting. The repository Travel+Leisure announced it a best island in a universe behind in 2012, interjection mostly to a powder soothing silt of White Beach. Today, according to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, it’s a “cesspool”. His outcome came after a video display sewage issuing directly into Boracay’s blue waters went viral. The argumentative personality castigated internal authorities for needing violent growth and dispatched an puncture supervision taskforce to save a island from an ecological catastrophe. Inspectors found over 800 environmental violations.

Boracay is feeling a strain


Drastic measures are now planned, and Boracay will be sealed to tourists for 6 months from Apr 26. It will yield time to renovate a island’s creaking infrastructure, though don’t design a new multiply of tolerable tourism once it reopens. Only final month a Philippine supervision sealed a understanding with a Macau-based association to build a $500m beachfront casino.


This gob of land off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula was once a exhausted place, with usually a few hundred residents, a integrate of churches, and a spattering of Maya ruins.

Then came a journey ships. A deepwater post was built in a 1990s, permitting vast vessels to wharf (but deleterious a island’s coral reef) and currently it is a busiest journey pier outward of Florida, with 3.6m passengers nearing annually (almost all from Florida). To offer a comparison, Venice, where residents frequently come out in force to criticism a participation of journey ships, usually welcomes 1.6m. Add that to a 541,598 who hold down any year during Cozumel Airport and it’s easy to see because a island creates a list.

Mexico is another nation where tourism has grown exponentially in new years. A towering 39.6m visited in 2017 – adult from usually 17.2m in 1990. Which isn’t to contend there aren’t untried islands watchful to be explored. Our experts suggest Holbox, usually 30 mins from Cancun, another packed traveller trap.


No round-up of overtourism would be finish though mentioning Venice, a means célèbre for proponents of tolerable transport for years.

It has, of course, has been on tourists’ radars for centuries. But a 18th century nobles who came on their Grand Tours found a city full of genuine Venetians. John Moore, in A View of Society and Manners in Italy, 1781, wrote of “such a churned throng of Jews, Turks and Christians; lawyers, knaves and pick-pockets, mountebanks, aged women, and physicians; women of quality, with masks; strumpets barefaced; and, in short, such a variety of senators, citizens, gondoleers, and people of any impression and condition, that your ideas are broken, bruised, and dislocated in a crowd, in such a demeanour that we can think, or reflect, on nothing…”

Visitors currently will find zero though other tourists. Indeed, while 22 million travellers revisit a city any year, a proprietor race has dwindled to usually 50,000. And according to internal media, if depopulation were to continue during a stream rate, Venice won’t have a singular proprietor by 2030.

Crowds in Venice


New measures have been put in place to forestall a largest journey ships from visiting, though – as summarized above – they comment for usually a fragment of Venice’s annual arrivals. Authorities are also perplexing to tackle a problem by banning new hotels and quick food restaurants. Even an entrance price for St Mark’s Square was recently suggested. 

Our solution? Try an uncrowded alternative. Italy has dozens of excellent cities that aren’t creaking underneath a weight of tourists. How about Bologna, a collateral of Italy’s tastiest region, Emilia-Romagna? Or colourful and windy Palermo, that still bears a singular stamp of a former Arab, Norman and Spanish rulers?


Indonesia welcomed 13.7 million abroad tourists in 2017 – adult from around 2.2m in 1990. And around 1 in 3 of those (4.5m) went to Bali.

Its presentation as a finished bliss for general expenditure began in 1963, with a construction of a Bali Beach Hotel in Sanur. Until afterwards usually 3 hotels existed on a whole island. But many some-more would follow and in 1970 a construction of Ngurah Rai International Airport non-stop a floodgates. Sanur stays a traveller hub, though it has been assimilated by Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, and newer developments like Nusa Dua and Pecatu.

The swell in visitors has contributed to a island’s environmental problems. Late final year Bali announced a “garbage emergency” after several of a country’s many renouned beaches were flooded with a rising waves of cosmetic waste. Workers sent in to Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak beaches, among a busiest, were carting off adult to 100 tons of junk any day during a rise of a clean-up.

It isn’t usually tourists to censure – fly-tipping by indifferent residents is a vital cause – though they positively aren’t assisting matters.

According to a 2002 consult by a National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, there are 18,306 other Indonesian islands to try. We suggest Sumba. Natalie Paris writes: “This remote outpost, an hour’s moody from Bali, is now permitted interjection to Nihiwatu, a oppulance review that takes a best of a island’s fascinating genealogical enlightenment and accommodates guest in lodges built like Sumbanese houses, with distinctive, high thatched roofs that poke adult above a treetops like witches’ hats.”

Sumba never gets crowded

Linda Berman

Big Major Cay, The Bahamas

A extraordinary cluster of pigs live on this island – besides a few goats and wandering cats, they are a island’s usually permanent inhabitants. How did they get there? The many convincing speculation is that they were taken there to boost tourism (another speculation is that sailors forsaken them off, intending to come behind and prepare them, though never returned).

But a ploy worked too well. Boat trips to see a lovable small porkers have turn extravagantly popular, with any attainment apparently dynamic to surpass a final to constraint that ideal Instagram snap. Disgracefully, 7 of a pigs died final year, with tourists indicted of feeding them ethanol and perplexing to float on tip of them. This is one strand wildlife knowledge we ought to skip – leave a pigs to their paradise. Instead, go and see a furious horses of a Camargue, or a kangaroos of Australia’s Cape Le Grand National Park.

Too lovable for their possess good



To contend Mallorca has been marred isn’t utterly fair. The Serra de Tramuntana towering operation in a north of a island is still magnificent, and on a travel to a mountaintop outpost of Castell d’Alaró final summer this match saw hardly a soul. But with Mallorca now receiving around 10 million annual visitors, tools of a island are positively feeling a strain. The fantastic highway to Sa Calobra becomes a trade jam in rise season, while a collateral Palma can turn stiflingly bustling – generally when journey ships vomit their passengers (as many as 500 journey ships now wharf in a city any year, depositing adult to 22,000 people a day). The collateral was a stage of an anti-tourist criticism final September, with demonstrators perfectionist holidaymakers “go home”.

Local authorities are good wakeful of a problem and are perplexing to repair it by doubling a traveller tax during rise season. Raising a levy to as many as €4 per chairman per day, depending on a form of accommodation used, will assistance account ecological projects, they say, as good as inspire holidaymakers to revisit out of season. Other due measures have enclosed tougher restrictions on Airbnb and a ban on tourists nearing by car.

Telegraph Travel’s tip for a quieter Spanish island? Off a seashore of Galicia lies a Cíes Islands, billed as a region’s answer to a Caribbean – and ideal for those in hunt of isolation. “There are several walking routes and a islands are renouned with hikers and birdwatchers, utterly in a autumn,” explains Annie Bennett, a Spain expert. “Part of a Galician Atlantic Islands National Park, a land and a surrounding sea are rarely protected. Visitors are singular to 2,200 a day; there are no hotels – usually a campsite – and usually a integrate of simple restaurants. There are no bikes, let alone cars.”

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