How Can We Balance Tourism Growth with Housing Affordability for Local Communities?

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Join us for this online written discussion to explore how we can balance tourism growth with housing affordability for local communities

LIVE Panel

Thursday 11 July 2024, 10 to 11 am EDT / 3 to 4 pm BST / 4 to 5 pm CEST. ADD TO CALENDAR

Background

Tourism is a vital part of many local economies around the world, creating opportunities to tackle poverty and improve livelihoods through job creation and economic growth. However, as tourism has bounced back since the pandemic, there is a growing number of examples of local communities pushing back against tourism’s unintended consequences—from the Balearics and Barcelona to Bali and New Zealand. One significant impact is the sharp rise in property prices and rents, which strains housing availability and displaces locals.

This is the subject of Business Fights Poverty’s latest rapid collaboration. Over the next three months, we are calling on our global community to share ideas for managing the tension between tourism growth and its impact on housing. We’ll be focusing on the case of Ibiza, where the housing crisis has led to the creation of large informal settlements, with many families living in caravans and tents without adequate access to essential services. Professionals such as nurses, police officers, and teachers are forced to live in cars or commute daily to the island due to unaffordable rents. This not only affects people’s lives and livelihoods but has also become a critical issue for businesses, which report difficulties in finding and retaining workers, impacting productivity and operational costs.

Our aim is to draw out practical insights from around the world that can inform tangible action on the ground in Ibiza (in partnership with the local sustainability organization, Ma), as well as in other tourism hotspots globally. Ultimately, we seek to understand how we can ensure both tourism and local communities thrive.

We invite you to join this online discussion to explore these issues more deeply. We ask you to share examples, discuss potential solutions, and consider how different sectors can work together to address these challenges.

Panel

  • Hennie Botes, CEO, Moladi - South Africa
  • Henk Bouwman, Secretary General, METREX - The Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas - France
  • Nick Budlender, Researcher, Ndifuna Ukwazi - South Africa
  • Josep Capella Hereu, Director, DECABA Tourism and Local Development - Spain
  • Luis Cateura, Self-sufficient Schools Program Manager, Fundación Paraguaya/Poverty Spotlight - Paraguay
  • Joseph Martin Cheer, Professor of Sustainable Tourism and Heritage, Western Sydney University and Co-Chair, Global Future Council on the Future of Sustainable Tourism, World Economic Forum - Australia
  • Valeria Duflot, Co-Founder, Venezia Autentica - Italy
  • Ahila Ganesan, Senior Advisor, MD’s Office, Think City - Malaysia
  • Mauricio Martinez Miramontes, Partnerships Coordinator, La Mano del Mono - Mexico
  • Marina Novelli, Professor of Marketing and Tourism, University of Nottingham - UK
  • Jose Ramón-Cardona, Ibiza Island Council University College of Tourism, University of the Balearic Islands - Spain
  • Alicia Reina Escandell, Professor of Tourism, University of the Balearic Islands, General Manager, Migjorn Ibiza Suites and Spa and Balearic President, Spanish Association of Hotel Directors (AEDH) - Spain
  • Sofia Ribas Bamber, Founder, (Ma) Laboratorio de Transformación Sostenible - Spain
  • Karen Simmonds, Founder, Travel Matters - UK
  • Rachel Slaymaker, Research Officer, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) - Ireland
  • Lucia Valenzuela Solis, Mexico Country Program Manager, Build Change - Mexico

Moderators

Yvette Torres-Rahman, Co-Founder and CFO, Business Fights Poverty
Katie Hyson, Director of Thought Leadership and COO, Business Fights Poverty

Questions

  1. What are the primary social challenges you have seen facing local communities due to the growth of tourism, including with regard to housing and the quality of life for locals? Can you give some specific examples?
  2. What strategies or solutions have you seen being implemented to mitigate the negative impacts of tourism, including on housing? Can you provide examples of successful initiatives or policies that have helped balance tourism growth with the needs of residents?
  3. How can businesses, civil society, and government collaborate more effectively to address the challenges posed by tourism growth? Can you share examples of where this is happening?

How to add your comments

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Looking forward to the discussion - please do introduce yourself here.

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hello Marina Novelli here…

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Hello! Lucía Valenzuela from Build Change Mexico. Excited to share this space with you all!

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Hello, Rachel Slaymaker from the Economic and Social Research Institute, Ireland. Looking forward to joining this discussion with you all.

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Hello, Henk Bouwman here, calling in from Lyon, the city where airbnb has been banned almost entirely. But there is a lot to say on cities/metropolitan areas ‘suffering’ mass-tourism.

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Hi everyone, I’m Valeria Duflot, Co-founder of Venezia Autentica and Overtourism Solution. Looking forward to the conversation!

You can learn about my background and connect here:
https://linkedin.com/in/valeriaduflot

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Hi all! Nick Budlender here, an urban policy researcher from Ndifuna Ukwazi in Cape Town, South Africa. We are an organisation that advocates for the expansion and protection well-located affordable housing. Looking forward to the discussion.

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Greetings from South Africa! Hennie Botes here from moladi. We export construction technology to 27 countries including the USA. According to UN-Habitat, the world needs to build 96,000 new affordable homes every day in order to house the estimated 3 billion people who will need access to adequate housing by 2030. In all geographies around the world, people are facing homelessness, poverty, or living in substandard homes. Does this huge demand not lend itself to create and skill much-needed artisans and entrepreneurs who will intern employ millions of unemployed citizens globally to produce the enormous backlog of affordable homes? Bringing unproductive people outside the economy back into the economy.

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Hello, Marina Novelli here. I am Professor of Marketing and Tourism and Director of the Sustainable Travel and Tourism Advanced Research - (Home - Nottingham University Business School) at the University of Nottingham Business School.

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Hello. I am Luis Cateura, from Fundacion Paraguaya, Paraguay

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Hi. Ahila Ganesan here from Malaysia.

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Hello, Sofia Ribas here, Founder of (Ma), a learning lab for sustainable transformation born on the island of Ibiza. We are the local partners to this project. :slight_smile:

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Hola buenas tardes! Soy Josep Capella Hereu, director de DECABA. Prestamos apoyo a administraciones públicas y también a empresas y asociaciones del sector privado en temas vinculados al turismo sostenible y desarrollo local.

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So our first question today -

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Overcrowding : Increased tourism can strain local infrastructure, public services, and natural resources. Overcrowding can negatively impact residents’ quality of life.

Q 1.

Tourism can bring wealth and prosperity, but when it turns into over-tourism, it pushes out local population

Social challenges due to over-tourism are

  • · increasing housing prices,
  • · pressure on real estate prices in general, causing pressure on e.g. local shop keepers that then disappear and are replaced by tourism oriented, expensive shops, e.g restaurants idem
  • · availability of (affordable) housing, as real estate can be rented out for much higher prices
  • · turning certain parts of cities into an amusement park, infantilisation of places (e.g. cruise tourists who don’t have a clue where they are and spend very little money locally) and who wants to live in an amusement park?
  • · outside tourism season parts of cities can turn into a ghost town
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We must remember that tourist destinations are, first and foremost, inhabited spaces, and only then spaces for consumption.

We need to consider the following three points:

  • Tourist locations are often chosen for their natural beauty, which paradoxically makes them more vulnerable to climate change.
  • Tourist development exacerbates income disparities between the local population and the investors who develop the area. It increases the cost of living and supplies in the locality and leaves the local population, who suffer from the effects of gentrification, in an even more vulnerable situation.
  • In the event of a catastrophic natural disaster, tourist infrastructure often remains intact, while the homes of the people providing services to that industry do not.

In 2023, Hurricane Otis struck Acapulco, one of Mexico’s most popular beaches. Although the damage was widespread, many hotels recovered relatively quickly. However, their employees could not return to work because their homes were destroyed.

Considering comprehensive solutions is a win-win for everyone!

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The rapid rise of tourism in Malaysia brings both economic benefits and social challenges. One major issue is crippling traffic congestion. Tourist destinations like Cameron Highlands often have limited infrastructure, with a single major road struggling to handle the influx of visitors. This gridlock disrupts daily life for residents and creates noise and air pollution.

Another concern is the potential loss of local character. Uncontrolled tourism can push out traditional businesses and livelihoods. The stilt village in Penang, initially protected by UNESCO designation, became overrun with souvenir shops and snack bars, displacing fishermen and fortune tellers who once called it home. This is a concern echoed in tourist destinations worldwide.

Rising housing costs and displacement pose another threat. As UNESCO designation fuelled tourism in the inner city of Penang, it also drove up prices of pre-war properties. Foreigners have snapped up many of these properties and impose high rent to tenants who are engaged in Penang’s traditional trades, giving them no choice but to exit the city.

Finally, large-scale infrastructure projects can damage a region’s heritage. In Penang, planned highways and land reclamation threaten the city’s unique historical character. Striking a balance between tourism development and preserving cultural treasures is a critical challenge for Malaysian authorities.

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A1. Ireland has faced long-term private rental sector affordability challenges. Since the pandemic, rents have risen rapidly, but especially outside of the major urban areas. Lack of available housing (especially rental) is a huge challenge right across the country. Underlying issue in Ireland is one of inadequate housing supply which has failed to keep up with the needs of the population. Falling homeownership rates means larger numbers remaining in rental accommodation. However, high levels of short-term let activity are exacerbating these availability issues in particular local areas, notably the centre of Dublin and in popular coastal tourist destinations along the west coast. Different challenges in urban areas with large rental populations vs more rural/coastal areas hugely reliant on tourism. Different policy responses needed according to specific local challenges.

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