As tourists begin thinking about an overseas holiday, some destinations are wary about having too many back

As tourists begin thinking about an overseas holiday, some destinations are wary about having too many back

The world has been reopening after nearly two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but some popular destinations don’t want tourists back at pre-pandemic levels, while others have urged visitors to be more courteous.

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt the tourism industry a massive blow with international arrivals down more than 70 per cent compared to 2019 levels, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Last year, tourist arrivals increased by a modest 4 per cent — or 15 million arrivals — compared to 2020.

To add to that, new travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant are causing the industry further pain. 

So why are some places with a history of drawing massive crowds now trying to revitalise their lucrative tourism sectors, but with fewer visitors?

From Kyoto to Barcelona, here’s a look at what some destinations are going to do as travellers return.

Kyoto, Japan

A wide shot of the Sensoji Buddhist temple, surrounded by green trees with a blue sky in the background.
Kyoto authorities insist their city is “not a tourist town”.(Mariamichelle, Pixabay)

Officials in Japan’s historic former capital Kyoto hinted earlier in the pandemic about the need to reduce tourist numbers to the city.

Kyoto’s Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa said in 2020: “Kyoto is not a tourist town.”

Aya McKinley, manager of the Kyoto Machiya Fukune hotel, told the ABC while she couldn’t wait to see travellers back in Kyoto, and Japan more broadly, some locals hoped tourists would be more courteous when they returned.

She said many residents were concerned before the pandemic about the volume of tourists using public transport, meaning locals often couldn’t get a seat.

Poor manners from tourists was another concern of locals, she said.

But Ms McKinley said it was just a small minority of tourists not following the rules. 

“I think we just want them to understand more about Kyoto culture and just follow the rules,” she said. 

Japan’s National Tourism Organisation said the country was promoting lesser-known areas and outdoor activities to combat overtourism.

Recently, Japan has been tackling an Omicron wave that has been breaking daily case and death records.

Bali, Indonesia

A Belgian tourist carries her luggage upon her arrival at Bali's international airport
Some Indonesian officials say they want only “quality” tourists.(AP: Firdia Lisnawati)

In Bali, businesses have been itching for the return of tourists and local authorities have been more welcoming than those in other popular places.

The tourist hotspot reopened to fully vaccinated travellers from all countries last Friday for the first time in two years. 

Visitors have to quarantine for five days at one of five designated five-star quarantine hotels. 

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