Travel restrictions have turned 11 overtouristed destinations into quiet, almost unrecognisable places, even for those who live there. It’s a bittersweet experience for the people we talked to.
For the past two months, many of the world’s most popular destinations have been shuttered to visitors, leaving monuments, museums, shops, restaurants, bars and streets almost empty.
As the world reopens and residents step out, they are faced with the reality that life today is different from what it was before Covid-19, and will likely remain this way for some time. One of the most significant differences — a bittersweet realisation for most — is that there are currently no tourists to attend to or crowds to shuffle through.
We asked people in 11 of the most overtouristed places around the world what it’s like. In the Galápagos, it feels like time has rewound to a previous era. In Prague, it has been a relief to admire a bridge that in recent years has become a popular spot for selfie-stick-wielding Instagrammers. In Venice, a city that has long been overwhelmed by tourists, Venetians, for once, aren’t outnumbered by visitors. In Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, as in Bali, fear of the loss of tourism has given way to a focus on family.
Although tourism is the lifeblood of the economies of these destinations, and the need for travel to resume may be dire, this moment of pause has allowed locals to experience something that only recently seemed impossible: having their homes to themselves.
— Tariro Mzezewa
The following interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Gianluca Boscolo, 30, is a web developer from the northern Italian town of Chioggia. He has lived in Rome for three years.
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