Category: Too Many Tourists

Response to Overtourism

Having read the article Too many Tourists? Overtourism I am staggered by the many inaccuracies and opinion set as fact,where to start?

Of coarse overtourism is a subjective term and it is a shame A N Other would not put a name to their findings, what some regards as being too busy others would regard as successful.   I note the reference to Blackpool of the Cotswold’s as if this is a bad thing which suggests a certain elitist ideal, as regarding whether the number of tourists in Bourton has crossed a threshold it is again just a subjective opinion as is the calculation on the number of people in cars and coaches, however what is not subjective is the number of shops and related businesses owned and managed by Bourton Residents.   I did a walk through today and counted 33, yes 33, ( not just one) and that is only the ones I know, there could be more I am not sure of the ownership of.  The amount of tea rooms was 17 (not 27 ) .

As regards solutions I note that one of your contributors found it difficult to park at the Church, there is a car park behind the Church for their exclusive use, but if you plan of closing all the car parks came to fruition then presumably that would not be available.

Your solutions of closing everything would lead to a huge downturn in all trade in Bourton and see many businesses close and local people being put out of work, so as I said in my letter to the Browser be careful what you wish for.

Regards

Martin Macklin

Too many tourists? Overtourism

My name is David Hutchman and this is a follow up to my previous article ‘Too Many Tourists’. For this article it has been renamed, Overtourism and this comes about from  A.N.Other who responded to my article. In their email to me they went into some detail for which I am grateful. It included the following explanation.

 What is overtourism?
In short, overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is a subjective term, of course, but it is defined in each destination by local residents, hosts, business owners and tourists. When rent prices push out local tenants to make way for holiday rentals, that is overtourism. When narrow roads become jammed with tourist vehicles, that is overtourism. When wildlife is scared away, when tourists cannot view landmarks because of the crowds, when fragile environments become degraded – these are all signs of overtourism.

Why is it happening?
The travel industry, like many others, focuses almost exclusively on growth, with little or no concern for the impacts. After decades of virtually uncontrolled growth, it has crossed a threshold: in many destinations, tourism now demonstrably creates more problems than benefits. This can take many forms; perhaps a million additional tourists are arriving in a capital city, or 20 additional tourists in a small, rural community. Overtourism is not just a big city issue; it has been documented in wilderness areas and national parks, and in places such as the Isle of Skye. 

 Like A.N.Other, I and many contributors also think that the number of tourists has crossed a threshold – where it is detrimental to the people who actually live here. It’s interesting that now the tourists themselves are complaining, which is something people had not considered.

Far from being the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ (have you ever heard a resident call it that? Neither have I), it’s now more like Disneyland or as others have referred to it ‘Blackpool of the Cotswolds’.

In every email, letter and face to face meetings with villagers, they all refer to this overtourism as I now refer to it. There is general consternation about the very high number of coaches, mini buses and cars that are now trying to squeeze into this quite small village. I did a rough count of available parking spaces and assumed 60 passengers per coach, and 3 persons per car. This was the result:-

Station Road garage Coach and car park 

Maximum of 30 spaces for coaches = 30 x 60 = 1800 passengers.

325 car parking spaces = 975 people

Rissington Road Car Park 229 spaces = 690 people.

Station Road Field (opposite garage) 880 car movements in one day = 2640 people

From this can be seen that at any one time there can be up to  6105 visitors entering the village. However, this does not take into account the following parking available at the following:-

Cotswold School

Bourton Cricket club

British Legion

The High Street

Station Road

Then add into this all the on street parking throughout the village which in its own right creates major problems for local people who have to endure it. Problems arising are blocked driveways, impassable roads with nose to tail visiting cars showing a totally disregard  for people living in these roads and street. A major concern raised was that of the inability of the Emergency Services not being able to access these congested roads which could put lives at risk.

I have learned that the residents of Lower Slaughter have never wanted a car park in their village and have actively opposed it over the years. The reason? They don’t want their quiet and tranquil village ‘turning into another theme park like Bourton-on-the-Water’.

I believe it has been suggested by councillors that to overcome the problem of parking it was proposed to introduce more car parking spaces!!!! How thoughtless is that.

The feeling one gets from the above is that the real aim of councillors is to look after the businesses and not the villagers. Another bit of information from one writer is as  follows:-

Somebody I know once did a survey of how many places you could get a cup of tea in Bourton. They counted twenty-seven. It’s probably more now that shops like the newsagents have closed and other cafes have opened. (I hear there is to be a third fish and chip shop soon). I was recently told that the council (I don’t know which one – presumably the Parish Council) counted how many of the shops and related businesses in Bourton are owned and managed by Bourton residents and the answer was ‘one’.

Some contributors have suggested taking these issues to the Parish Council. Again my experience and that of other who have tried this approach is it appears to have no impact. Their stock response is “it has nothing to do with us and is not part of our remit of responsibilities”. A number of people have had a very dismissive reaction from the Clerk to the Parish council. In one response it was stated -:

“After all, so many people complain about things but don’t actually want to do anything personally to make a difference, apart from complain.”

Well considering some of the feedback I have had, supposedly complaining or taking concerns  about Overtourism to The Parish Council, it is a pointless exercise as they repeatedly told local people they cannot do anything about it.

I think the saddest responses I have had are from the elderly. They agree with me about too many visitors and have stated their inability to be able to safely go into the village to go to the Chemist or the church is impossible. One stated the following-:

“The elderly who use walkers or scooters do not stand a chance to move on the pavements. The foreigners look at you with disdain and will not move and we cannot get past them.”

Another stated “ I avoid the village at all costs. No longer get my medicine from village chemist but have it delivered from Upper Rissington. Even parking to go to church is a problem. I do not want to move away but it might be the only option if things continue as they are”.

This is a sad reflection on our caring for the elderly.

So what is the answer? There have been numerous suggestion and these I will simply list as follows.

  • Reduction of coach parking spaces to  5 coaches at any one time.
  • Revoke the licence on the field car park in Station Road. Stopping parking in the field  will greatly reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians and other road users.
  • Stop car parking in Cotswold School grounds. This will greatly reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians and other road users
  • Disallow Bourton Cricket Club from allowing their grounds to be used as car parking. This will greatly reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for pedestrians and other road users.
  • Stop parking in British Legion car park.
  • Make all roads and streets ‘Resident only Parking’
  • Spending earmarked monies for Rissington Road car park into something worthwhile for the local people of the village e.g. cover the cost of providing permits and visitor  permits thus stopping on street parking throughout the village.
  • Ban all mini buses and coaches from the village centre as happens with Coaches.
  • Reduce the number of parking spaces on the High Street from the Undertakers to Moore Road.
  • Provide a proper Bus only layby for Pulham Coaches outside of Edinburgh Wool shop. This again will enhance safety for passengers alighting and boarding the bus.
  • Introduce permit holder only parking in the reduced parking places on the High Street. The permits provided to stop on street parking can be used for this.
  • Turn down the application for third Fish & Chip shop which will only exacerbate parking on the High Street and is not needed especially out of season.
  • Disallow any suggestion for increasing the number of car parking spaces.

These are a selection of suggestions from the local people who responded to my letter in the Bourton Browser and the Cotswold Times.

I have been in touch with several Councillors via email who have suggested meeting with me. I have agreed to meet with them, but to date none have come back with a suggested date.

Lastly, may I say a big thank you to all the people who did get back to me on this issue. In the main I think I have replied to all of you by email but for the others I am appreciative of your letters and you face to face comments.

If you wish to get back to me, my email is info@southlands-bb.co.uk or on 01451821987.

David Hutchman

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