Europe’s tourist hot spots look for ways to cope with the crowds

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Europe’s tourist hot spots are looking for new ways to cope with “overtourism,” where cities like Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona are struggling to manage huge crowds arriving daily on cheap flights and cruise ships.

They are turning to smartphone apps and car-sharing promotions to try to cope with the overcrowding, which has upset the local population and also the tourists.

Some 9 percent of travellers who took part in a survey by consultancy IPK said that overcrowding affected the quality of their trip last year.

Security concerns over beach destinations in Egypt and Turkey and a rise in cheap flights have boosted growth in international arrivals to countries like Spain and Croatia to more than 10 percent over the past few years, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

“Overcrowded destinations are successful, but there is a thin line between success and failure,” Dubrovnik mayor Mato Frankovic told Reuters at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin.

But rather than trying to limit the number of visitors, who spend money on hotels, meals and souvenirs, the cities are coming up with ways to channel tourist flows away from the most popular attractions.

Dubrovnik aims to launch a smartphone app by the end of 2018 that lets users know when the narrow alleys of the old town are crowded and suggests alternative sights outside the city walls.

It also plans to test a car-sharing scheme to entice tourists to explore the surrounding areas.

Barcelona is working on a joint marketing plan with the region around the city to get tourists to venture beyond the city’s most famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia church or the Las Ramblas boulevard.

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