EplerWood International
Global
Tourism’s Invisible Burden Report »

Puerto Rico
Building a Resilient Ecotourism Industry in Puerto Rico Post Hurricane Maria »

Tunisia
Tourism and Environmental Health in a Changing Climate »

USA
On-Line Forum on Tourism and Environment at Harvard »

Global
Global On-Line Learning Project with TIES »

Latin America
Tour Operators Plan for Sustainable Tourism »

China
Sustainability Training Needs Rural and Urban China »

Bangladesh
Community-Based Tourism in Protected Areas  »

Dominican Republic
Connecting Local Artisans to the Tourism Economy  »

El Salvador
Financial Sustainability of Parks and Sea Turtle Conservation Program »

El Salvador
Developing a Sustainable Tourism Economy »

Brazil
The Gems of Nature Tourism along the Estrada Real »

Sierra Leone
Social and Environmentally Responsible Tourism »

Kerala, India
Educational Centre for Ecotourism »

Honduras
Micro and Small Business Enterprise Feasibility »

Mexico
Regional Supply Chain Analysis for Community Tourism »

Cyprus
Sustainable Tourism Training Program »

California
Sustainable Tourism Market & Development for Imperial Beach »

Cambodia
Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism »

Sri Lanka
Model Rainforest Ecolodge »

Global
Market & Finance Analysis for Ecolodge Development »

Ecuador
International Market for Ecotourism in Indigenous Territories »

Tourism’s Invisible Burden Report
Global

EplerWood International, Cornell University, and the Travel Foundation collaborated on a report that explores innovations in both policy and finance to manage the invisible burden of tourism. This report makes a case for public-private cooperation in the design of data-driven mechanisms for managing, monitoring and financing destinations worldwide.

The analysis began with in-depth interviews with academic, business, and global experts and a roundtable at Cornell University. It was followed up with research into current academic and case literature and sustainability studies from relevant fields such as urban planning, protected area management, environmental economics, and the digital economy.

After decades of steady growth, international tourist numbers surpassed 1 billion for the first time in 2012. The report shows that destinations across the world are not prepared for the unprecedented demands this has placed on them, leading to alarming reports of overtourism. With growth set to continue exponentially, reaching 1.8 billion tourists by 2030, a global crisis is looming. 



While overtourism is an important symptom, the use of vital natural, social and public assets without recompense is highlighted as the core of the problem.  The report suggests that, wherever it exists, tourism places an “invisible burden” on destinations and their residents. The invisible burden leaves inadequate revenue to provide a sustainable foundation to manage the rapid growth of tourism worldwide.

Examples of the invisible burden of tourism include the costs of:

  • Expanding local infrastructure to meet growing tourism needs
  • High demand for scarce land and valuable urban resources
  • Managing increased exposure to climate change risks, especially with coastal tourism 
  • Protecting historic public spaces and monuments

It’s clear that the failure to properly account for the full cost of tourism growth is preventing action. Therefore, new accounting mechanisms are necessary to protect the very assets on which national economies and businesses worldwide depend.


Report authors:
  • Megan Epler Wood (Managing Director, Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program at Cornell University; Owner and Principal of EplerWood International); author of Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet
  • Dr. Mark Milstein (Clinical Professor of Management at Cornell University
  • Kathleen Ahamed-Broadhurst (Senior Researcher, EplerWood International)
  • With editorial support from, and consultation with, the Travel Foundation 



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