While a growing number of tourist destinations are experiencing over-demand or overtourism, other places which are no less interesting, are struggling to get their market share. In extreme cases, both over- and under-demand for tourism generate serious problems and challenges. Host communities experiencing overtourism are facing a deteriorating quality of life, outmigration, collapsing infrastructures and various socio-cultural, environmental and economic hardships. On the other hand, communities which so far have not had experienced substantial interest in their tourism assets may feel reluctant to initiate steps to exploit them, seeing the cost of tourism in Venice, Barcelona or Dubrovnik. Thus, while in some not yet “discovered” places, tourism development must proceed with special care, in others, mitigation of negative and unsustainable ramifications of overtourism must take place.
Furthermore, some will argue that one of the leading strategies to be adopted in pursuit of overtourism reduction is pushing tourism from over demanded to under demanded spaces. While such a policy may make some sense, it also encapsulates several risks and, if not well managed and controlled, may end up shifting overtourism to other locations instead of reducing the consequent stress.
Another aspect that this conference wishes to debate is the impact of overtourism and undertourism on the tourists’ quality of experience. Apparently, the more crowded destinations are, the perceived value of the tourists’ experiences diminishes. Likewise, much more meaningful and positive experiences can be attained in places hardly visited by tourists or sites that control their carrying capacities. However, if the number of tourists does not reach a critical mass, the level of services offered is also negatively affected, and this may affect the tourists’ perceived experience.
The issues of over-and undertourism are not only interwoven. They represent a complex situation that needs to be considered, discussed and researched by tourism scholars using a multi- and interdisciplinary approach. Our upcoming conference will serve as a platform for discussions, exchange of ideas and practices as well as a source for practical and, hopefully, holistic solutions. We therefore, invite all those who are interested in this domain, academics and practitioners alike, to join us in Lecce and Salento, a region of Italy that, in recent years, has been facing manifestations of both over- and under-tourism. We are sure that through the site inspections and the conference papers, lectures and the think tank, participants will gain both academically and practically. So, if you share with us the concern and wish to sustainably manage the level of visitation in tourist destinations – come and join us in Lecce!