Demarketing: A Marketing Framework for Overtourism

Demarketing: A Marketing Framework for Overtourism

Pinaz Tiwari (Jamia Millia Islamia, India), Snigdha Kainthola (Jamia Millia Islamia, India) and Nimit Ranjan Chowdhary (Jamia Millia Islamia, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2224-0.ch006


Ensuring sustainability at a tourist destination is a challenge which is faced by many nations. The challenge compounds since short term monetary gains often blind the desire for sustainable development. The term overtourism has gained popularity during the last few years as instances of anti-tourism reactions have been reported from several cities like Venice, Shimla, Barcelona, etc. An acceptable solution for countering overtourism has not yet been found because of the subjectivity and complexity of the situation. This chapter focuses on deconstructing the situation of overtourism in different parts of the world and how de-marketing can be used as one of the strategies for sustainable tourism. It shows the demarketing structure in marketing framework by modifying the 5As of tourism. It also shows the marketing mix framework within the domain of demarketing. It provides an insight into the role of de-marketing in striking a balance between the interests of local communities and stakeholders on one hand and enhancing the tourist experience at a destination on the other.
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The year 2018 has proved to be significant in the history of the tourism industry as it has reached up to 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals in the world (UNWTO Communications Department, 2019). The estimated goal set for the year 2020 has been achieved two years earlier. The economic prospects are wider as it creates direct, indirect and induced employment opportunities for people across the globe. There has been an average increase in the levels of disposable income of the world’s population. The process of booking travel has also gotten convenient. This convenience has led to an increase in the proportion of first-time travellers (Glaesser, Kester, Paulose, & Abbas, 2017). However, growth in numbers may not necessarily mean a sustainable growth of the destination. The problem is that “too” many travellers are converging in the same cities and visiting the same places in those cities during a particular period. (Poll, 2019). The challenge of sustainable development compounds since short term economic benefits often blind the desire for sustainable growth. The term “overtourism” is used to define the phenomenon where tourism negatively affects the residents’ quality of life as well as tourists’ experience at a destination. With an increase in tourists’ arrivals, especially in Europe agitation among the local community against tourists has also increased. Notions like gentrification, anti-tourist movements, and tourismphobia are frequently used to refer to instances of overtourism in famous cities like Amsterdam, Venice, Dubrovnik, Barcelona, Rome and many cities in Thailand and India.

Third world economies promote tourism activities as a greater number of tourists would mean more revenue for them. Thailand is a case in point, where tourism is a major contributor in Gross Domestic Product of the country (WTTC, 2019). No doubt, tourism brings economic viability for any country engaged in tourism activities. An example of which can be seen in Ireland which opted for tourism to recover its debt in the year 2011. In summers of 2017, the gaze of tourism’s negative impacts was observed in European cities where residents came out on roads to protest and asking tourists to go back home. Albert Arias Sans noted that overtourism is nothing but an effect of success (Sans & Quaglieri, 2016). The effect of having “too” many tourists at a destination results in damage to the ecological environment, increase in the cost of living, and displacing residents. However, the ascendant standard is to believe that tourism is broadly an unparalleled good where sustainability liberally asserted to encourage adversely affected critics and local communities alike. In several tourist destinations, a point of saturation has been achieved, which can be observed in the way residents’ perception is changing for tourists, and tourism has become a tipping point for politics.

There is no single solution that can fit into all the destinations affected by overtourism. The nature, extent and impact of overtourism at each destination are different. Solutions, therefore, need to be unique to each destination. However, every destination struggling with overtourism would like to check the inflow of visitors. Demarketing is one of the plausible solutions. Authors, look forward to demarketing of a tourist destination as one of the strategies to deal with the phenomenon. Examples have been taken from different places which have witnessed an overflow of tourists and compared with those that are not yet affected by overtourism. Thus, this chapter shall focus on deconstructing the situation of overtourism in different parts of the world and how de-marketing can be used by altering the marketing mix.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainability: The ability to live without damaging the natural resources and maintaining the ecological balance. Sustainability means maintain of quality life.

Overcrowding: It refers to a permanent or temporary state where there are a larger number of people present in a location than the perceived tolerable level from a safety and security purview.

Carrying Capacity: The maximum number of footfall a destination can accommodate at a certain period of time, without causing ecological, economical, socio-cultural and physical damage.

Stakeholders: Any entity that influences or is influenced by tourism. They can be tour operators, government, media and others.

Demand: It refers to the requirement of a product. In tourism, demand is the total number of people who desire to travel to or travels to a particular tourist place.

Marketing Mix: A coalescence of factors that can be manoeuvred to influence consumer demand and purchase patterns.

Demarketing: The use of marketing techniques to decrease the demand for a product to meet the long-term objectives of an organization.

Tourismphobia: The term “tourismphobia” has its inception from mass unsustainable tourism practices which generated the feelings of fear, antipathy, and social rejection amongst the local citizens of the destination towards the tourists whose exploitation is believed to cause the decrease in quality of life.

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