10 Destinations You Should Not Visit In 2023, According To Travel Experts
Fodor’s, a popular travel guide publisher and website, has brought back its “No List” for travel destinations after a three-year hiatus, and the list contains destinations you would never expect.
Fodor’s explains that the “No List” is not meant as a critique of the destination but as an opportunity to think about the impact that tourism is having on that location and the need to give it a moment to catch up. This year’s No List reflects destinations that you don’t have to remove from your bucket list, but to consider if they can wait.
The list of 10 destinations has been broken down by Fodor’s into three categories, each with its reasoning for why it made the list. The categories include natural attractions that need some time to rejuvenate, cultural hotspots that don’t have the resources to support the crowds, and destinations that are in a water crisis.
Natural Attractions That Need Time To Heal
France’s Coastline And Calanques National Park
France has been experiencing intense coastline erosion due to tourists flocking to these areas and creating frequent landslides. Étretat in Normandy had to shut down its wastewater treatment facility last year because it could not handle the level of visitors, which was three times more than its resident population.
In Marseille, Calanques National Park decided to put a cap of 400 on its visitors and introduced a reservation system since they did not have the amenities to service the crowds.
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe has always been a popular attraction, but following the pandemic, it became a victim of the great migration. Many people moved into the area and decided to take their holiday home as a permanent residence. This led to increased traffic along the lake and made trails and beaches even busier.
The biggest concern is the pollution damage to the Lake from the dust and exhaust emissions, which alters its iconic cobalt blue color. The town is addressing how to minimize cars on the road, so if you do decide to go, considered hiring a bike or using the free shuttle program.
You wouldn’t think of Antarctica as brimming with many tourists. Tourist numbers are capped by various treaties, but it also means they are confined to one area on the peninsula. Since Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable locations to climate change, this small tourist footprint has made an impact on an area that was already under threat.
The peninsula has clocked some of the fastest warming temperatures and the biggest wildlife decline in history. Combine this with the black carbon emitted from ships and planes to get there, which makes the snow melt faster and turn darker. Fodor’s recommends that if you do decide to go, pick an operator that is conscious of its environmental impact and find ways you can limit your footprint.
Cultural Destinations Flooded By Tourists
Italy’s Hot Spots
Venice’s canal system, which is made up of 150 canals, is the city’s biggest charm and one of the reasons tourists come to this floating, romantic city. Since the city is surrounded by water, it is vulnerable to floods, especially as sea levels rise due to climate change. Measures are being put into place to reserve the lagoon ecosystem, such as not permitting large cruise ships into the historic center, and it will soon be introducing an entrance fee to discourage mass tourism for day trips.
The Amalfi Coast is also no stranger to crowds. The city recently introduced a number plate system during its high season to reduce traffic congestion. People with odd or even number plates can only drive on certain days, which limits the cars on the roads. Advocates are calling for it to return next year.
Cornwall beaches are one of the best attractions in this English county, but the Cornwall Tourism authorities first started raising red flags for its over-tourism four years ago when it decided to stop promoting its coastline in brochures and online campaigns. It even went as far as to ask visitors to stay away from the beaches.
Besides the over-populated beaches, residents are saying that the area doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the level of crowds, with narrow laned roads, limited parking, and excess pollution and rubbish. Accommodation companies are even capping the number of rentals to maintain the cost of living since short-term rentals are driving up prices.
When tourist numbers in Amsterdam equate to the same number as residents in the whole country, a strategy is needed to ensure crowds aren’t so isolated to one area. That’s why the Holland Tourism Board readjusted its marketing campaign and focused on promoting different areas and segmenting tourists for different times.
Small steps have been taken to reduce crowds and disorderly behavior, such as moving popular photo ops, banning beer bikes, and capping the number of people arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
Thailand has attracted a huge number of visitors, with nearly 40 million tourists arriving annually pre-pandemic, which has taken a toll on its natural landmarks. The Tourism Board is hoping to focus less on the number of visitors and more on high-end travelers, and has added measures to protect its resources, such as closing national parks for one month a year to recover.
Popular cove Phi Phi Leh in Maya Bay has seen regular closures over the last few years due to ecological damage from hordes of tourists, while the island of Koh Tao has recently implemented a tourist user fee, which goes towards conservation.
Destinations Suffering From Water Crises
Islands don’t always have efficient access to water, which is why Maui County had to introduce compulsory water restrictions on residents for non-essential water use. These restrictions were not enforced on the resorts in South and Central Maui, which feature multiple pools, manicured lawns, and golf courses.
This uneven distribution of water between residents and tourist sites has led to conflicts and resentment, especially as the cost of living is being driven up by an increase in short-term rentals. This also causes more to become homeless, which is why some locals have called for tourists to stop visiting.
Southern European Watershed
The European Watershed runs through Europe from the Iberian Peninsula (divided by Spain and Portugal) all the way up to Russia and is important for dispersing water throughout these areas. Since the Northern Hemisphere experienced one of the worst droughts this year, it dried up rivers and helped create dry conditions that impacted 65% of Europe.
The Rhine and Danube Rivers suffered from low water levels impacting River cruises, where passengers complained about updated itineraries and having to take buses between certain ports. In other areas, water reservoirs in Spain are as low as 11% in capacity; northern Italian provinces don’t have enough water to grow food; and the Greek Islands are trying to find the balance between the water demands of agriculture and tourism, since it relies on water imports.
The American West
Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border is under great stress, with drought heavily impacting its water levels. Arizona and Nevada will be implementing water restrictions next year since the water level is expected to be less than 1,050 feet above sea level next year (a Tier 2 shortage level). If Lake Mead drops below 895 feet, the situation becomes even more dire, and this will impact Hoover Dam generating hydroelectricity, which serves people in California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona are also facing depleted water levels. Tourists visiting Zion National Park in Utah are using double the water than an average resident in Las Vegas does. As the water dries up, desert ecosystems and low-income families are the most impacted.
How Can I Be More Aware Of My Impact When Traveling?
When choosing which country and which tourist provider, make sure it is backed by a recognized certification standard. The Global Tourism Council has a list of certification standards that range from tourism-funded agencies to private tour operators and non-profits, while the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct tool will help you determine certain areas that are worst affected right now.
The key is to do your research and invest a few additional minutes when planning your trip into what companies are using sustainable tourism and practices. It is recommended to visit lesser-known destinations when it is high season, and if you are going to busy places, try to visit when it’s not peak and be mindful of your own footprint when it comes to water usage and treading on fragile ecosystems.