Overtourism: A Systematic Review of Literature

Overtourism: A Systematic Review of Literature

Fatima Lampreia Carvalho (University of Algarve, Portugal), Manuela Guerreiro (Faculty of Economics and Research Centre for Tourism, Sustainability and Well-Being (CinTurs), University of Algarve, Portugal) and Nelson Matos (University of Algarve, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2224-0.ch002


This chapter conceptualises the notion of overtourism by providing a systematic literature review mapping the existing research knowledge. The mapping exercise benefits from textual data from academic articles on overtourism. The study focuses on measures to counteract overtourism from a marketing perspective. Since tourism is about customers' experiences, understanding overtourism and its aspects is crucial at a time the market growth calls for measures to control this phenomenon. Using online databases and NVIVO 12 software, 66 articles were selected for bibliographic content analysis. Findings highlight the need to work the concept of overtourism in a holistic approach encompassing five dimensions: social, political & governance, marketing & customer experience, economic, and environmental. Results permitted to identify other dimensions; overtourism, symbolic, ethical-moral, cultural. Managing overtourism is challenging because whereas tourism is about customers' experiences, for policy makers overtourism encompasses strategies with collective effects.
Chapter Preview


The main goal of this chapter is to find a common ground underlying the several dimensions of overtourism and explain how the many facets of overtourism interact in theoretical and practical terms. This literature review aims to provide the basis for the conceptualisation of resilient destinations that are supplied with information on how to prevent the negative impacts of tourism. A secondary goal of this chapter is to identify potential gaps in the literature concerning overtourism. This chapter offers therefore three main contributions for new scholarship on tourism studies: (i) It scrutinises key concepts for a discussion of overtourism based on a systematic literature review; (ii) It indicates main absences in research concerning overtourism and (iii) it explores possible areas for collaboration among policy makers, business managers and travel operations in tackling overtourism.

Resilient destinations that are robust enough to cope with the ongoing dynamisms of society depend on, robust assessment tools able to detect signs of overtourism, and support strong stakeholder negotiation. (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Overtourism literature tree map. Source: 84 Academic Journals 1997- 2019

Source: The authors content analysis of literature with NVIVO 12 plus.

With basis on the literature, there is evidence that destination robustness depends on stakeholder cooperation as a major enabler on overtourism policy making. This chapter seeks therefore to elaborate an argument on how the several dimensions of overtourism, found in the academic literature (1997-2020) can contribute to the conceptualisation of resilient destinations that are robust enough to cope with the ongoing dynamisms of society (Hartman, 2018, p.7). Studies on building resilient destinations are associated with debates on optimal tourism (Morteza, Seddiq, Sharareh, and Jamal, 2016; Wang, Li, & Li, 2013; Shafiee et al, 2019), optimal tourism clustering (Gao, Zhang, Lu, Wu and Du, 2018).and with optimal crowding levels (Jacobsen, Iversen, and Hem, 2019) as well as with new models for Smart tourism destinations (Shafiee, Ghatari, Hasanzadeh, Jahanyan, 2019). Moreover, new methodologies to support the management of tourism using a competitive, smart, and sustainable approach have demonstrated that the competitive advantage of a destination originates also from its managerial efforts and the ability for optimal resource allocation (Wang, Li, & Li, 2013; Shafiee et al, 2019, p. 289). Yet progress towards optimal tourism and resilient destinations cannot progress without deep examination of empirical and theoretical studies of overtourism.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: