Overtourism refers to excessive gathering of tourists which may occur conflict with the locals. It is a common phenomenon that happens in every country of the world. Cox’s Bazar is no exception. Over the past few years, overtourism has become an issue to give a rethink. The word 'overtourism' itself throws the idea of its negative impacts. This is an issue because of its environmental pollution and socio-economic effects.
Nothing excessive is good. Overtourism imposes negative impact in three noticeable ways. They are:
If we put a light on the point of social impact of overtourism, we can see that overtourism allegedly causes problems on the social life of Cox’s Bazar. It causes problems to the locals in many ways. As per our observation, it is found that price-hike of essentials is a massive problem in the tourist city due to overtourism. As a result, local people face problems in many ways. Whether it is in the fish market or the Burmese market, even the rent for vehicles are also increased by a good amount. This is not only applicable for the tourists, but also for the locals. Hence, the people of Cox’s Bazar itself face great difficulties in their everyday life.
Now, if we turn towards the economical side, the problem is even deeper. In the resort city, there are numerous shops of dry fish, Burmese goods and dresses etc. These shops are getting established with a competitive mindset. A tendency of increasing prices of goods can always be observed. Other local areas are also affected where tourists do not visit. Many are children who are involved in selling tea, pickles, horse-riding and so forth. This is the socio-economic effect of overtourism. Hotel business is also an example where impacts of overtourism can be felt. Hotels are growing abruptly to give shelter to tourists. Despite existence of so many hotels in Cox's Bazar, tourists face accommodation problem. During tourism season, rent of hotel rooms goes up than that of off-season. This creates an economical imbalance.
Again, if we discuss about environmental impacts of overtourism then we can find its adverse effects on environment of the tourist resort.
"Earlier, locals spotted the dead dolphin on the beach around 8:00am on Sunday and according to their accounts, it had scars on its body.
At least 10 whales washed up on shore since 2000, according to newspaper reports and government accounts.
Zoologists said that these sea creatures could die of natural causes but there were reasons to believe otherwise for the ocean is now replete with traps to kill them".
Water gets polluted due to overtourism and this pollution causes death of sea animals. Recently, deaths of whales and dolphins have increased in large number. Human beings are responsible for deaths of sea animals. Tourists who come to visit Cox’s Bazar indiscriminately throw plastic bags, bottles and many more harmful things in the sea after their use polluting water. As a result, sea animals wash up on the shore and if people do not notice them, they eventually pollute the surrounding atmosphere.. Nowadays, cows and their dungs are seen on the beach which is very disturbing. Cow dungs pollute the entire environment of the beach. Recently, foreign tourists have criticised the scenario which is a shame for us.
Now coming to the main point of discussion which is social damage due to overtourism. Overtourism is a sort of problem that caused damage gradually to the social aspects of Cox’s Bazar. It has been going on for years and it has become a big problem in recent times.
Overtourism causes morality problems, change in culture, crimes, gambling, child labour, rape, snatching, theft, sometimes riots etc. It also brings change in the structure of families. These are the social impacts caused by overtourism in beach city. In the past few years, these problems have arisen much.
Overtourism causes moral degradation mainly of young people. They often visit the resort city where immoral activities like prostitution and intake of liquor are on the rise. People who are unable to do such immoral acts in their own cities, they can easily do the activities here. It is because of available opportunities. These are results of overtourism. Both foreign and local tourists are getting involved in these kinds of immoral acts massively damaging the social fabric.
Crimes are on the rise to overtourism. Nowadays, visitors coming to Cox’s Bazar in large numbers lure unemployed and spoiled locals to do different kinds of crimes like snatching, theft and rape etc. The number of rape incidents has alarmingly increased in the tourist resort. Women tourists are now more unsafe than a few years back. Despite various security measures taken by the administration, still they are not adequate to stop the crimes. This is because of gathering of a large number of people in tourism season. A few days back, a tourist family was attacked by a group of young guys who are members of local influential families. They have allegedly raped the woman members of the tourist family. Although they were arrested immediately after the incident, but eventually the got freed using their familial influence.
Incidents of snatching and thefts are now usual phenomenon in Cox’s Bazar. Complaints are being lodged in local police stations almost everyday regarding snatching and theft, but things do not get better; rather incidents of crime increased alarmingly. This issue got worse over the past few years.
Child labour is also a social problem caused by overtourism. We can find children selling tea and pickles in the sea beach, offering horse riding and body massage to tourists in return of a small amount of money. Overtourism has lured the children and their parents to do the immoral acts distracting the children from going to school at tender age. Nowadays, this is a major issue in the tourist city.
Overtourism is responsible for change in family structure and sometimes riot as well. When the host-guest relationship is not maintained properly then these problems arise. We have observed that local residents of Cox’s Bazar are harassing tourists coming from other cities or foreign countries. Lack of moral knowledge and presence of large number of tourists are responsible for the problem.
Cultural conflicts also take place in the tourist resort because of overtourism. Perhaps this happens because of the way tourists from other cultural background dress themselves, the way they talk and behave. Moreover, tourists are mostly rich that lures locals to do immoral acts and crimes.
Thus, overtourism keeps an adverse impact in Cox’s Bazar socially. Some measures can prevent the problems from going higher if they are taken seriously. Such as, tourists can visit the tourist spot in the off seasons. This will decrease the crowd to a great extent and crimes will be dropped automatically in good numbers as the authority will be able to have a proper grip and control over the situations. Also, the administration should impose some restrictions over use of alcohol and doing immoral activities like prostitution. Proper guidance and proper implementation of law can decrease the problems to occur in tourist city. On conclusion, it is mandatory to stop rise in overtourism. Otherwise, the discussed problems will increase more and more tarnishing the very image of Cox’s Bazar where the world’s longest sea beach is situated.
The writer is a student of the Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University, Chittagong