Undertourism was a term coined by popular travel site, Skift, in response to its creation of the term overtourism three years prior. Where overtourism refers to the extreme levels of tourism that promote rapid economic growth in a popular area, undertourism is starting to occur in emerging locations as an alternative to the preeminent overpopulated tourist destinations.
This trend seeks to push tourism outside of the common scope and expand it to less popular areas during less popular seasons.
Undertourism relies on two major components:
1: It hopes to ease the strain of overtourism in overpopulated areas. Overtourism has led to countless tourist traps, overcrowding, and rules and regulations to account for the surge of visitors. Some locations have even exploited the massive influx of tourists. According to Travel Weekly, this can create a joyless experience.
2: It hopes to redistribute wealth among less-visited locations. This will not only lead to economic growth in under-visited areas, but it might also provide a more holistic experience. While the cruise industry might travel to 1,000 destinations, more under-visited locations hope to gain more tourists.
Overtourism might also lead to the rise in rental price for highly-desired locations. For example, the median rent for an unfurnished apartment in the United States is around $1,400 each month, but this price is much higher in high-traffic locations like New York City and Los Angeles.
This can include turning marketing on its head, but it also involves public work projects. For example, Colombia's city of Medellin was once a hub for crime and drug trafficking. Now, thanks to infrastructure development, Medellin is easily accessible for locals who reside in the mountains and tourists alike.
Without the proper infrastructure to support visitors, time and money are wasted on travel. It's estimated that the average commuter in America will waste more than 42 hours each year waiting in traffic. They will also lose around $1,400 in gas as a result. This prevents locals from traveling for work and fun, but it also discourages tourists from visiting.
Medellin has also made moves toward eco-friendly living, some of which they hope to profit on among tourists. Some areas have established coffee farms to prevent overtourism from plaguing the main city and encourage tourists to visit the countryside.
Traveling to under-visited areas is becoming more easily accessible thanks to the aforementioned public works projects. Across the globe, it's estimated that around 12 million trucks, railroads, cars, and other vessels will goods throughout the transportation network. As more avenues for travel open up, more people will begin to move, too.
The idea of undertourism also relies on people searching for quality experiences, not quantity. They want to visit unique destinations. This trend is expected to impact this year's spring break as more students hope to relax in new, unique destinations.
In fact, 51% hope to travel to a new location, one where none of their friends have ever been.
Global tourism reached an estimated $1.3 billion in 2017 and this number is only expected to grow. As previously unreachable areas become more navigable, however, undertourism may lead to smarter strategies when it comes to marketing.