Who doesn’t like a good meal?
Regardless the situation, the financial status or even the emotional state, we are always up for a good culinary experience.
From the moment you are choosing a restaurant (maybe because someone recommended it to you, or you checked online where you should go, or you just passed by and decided to be spontaneous) to the time you are leaving the restaurant, you will try to enjoy every step of it.
You will read the menu, and see what it offers. You will keep in mind all the possibilities that are tempting you, and might decide to leave a bit of room for that delicious desert you have just seen coming to the table next to you.
You will look around and see if the restaurant has the decoration you expected, if the staff is being attentive and effective as it should be in a good restaurant, and you will look around and see what other kind of customers the restaurant is attracting.
Why are we so picky when it comes to evaluate our gastronomic experience and not when it comes to administrate our tourism options?
We should manage our destinations just like we would manage a good restaurant. Think of the people you want to attract, to make sure you have what they need, what they expect. Pay attention to details, make sure that the customers are looked after. Train all personnel towards a positive, welcoming attitude, but also train them to say no. You wouldn’t allow a restaurant’s guest to sit on the floor shirtless and yelling at other guests, so…. why would you allow that in your city?
And never, ever, try to sell more than what your restaurant and your chefs can deal with. You can have the best location, with the top chef of the moment, the nicest clientele and the most exquisite decoration. But if your staff is constantly under pressure for the avalanche of customers, if the kitchen is running out of ingredients for over demand and if you pile up dinners to fit in smaller overloaded places, your restaurant will eventually face bad reputation and plenty of complains.
That is what cities like Amsterdam or Barcelona will soon have to deal with. They both became extremely popular not only in the leisure tourism but also for business events (e.g. congresses, meetings and conference). The constant increase on their visitors per year is making locals abandon certain areas of the city. Some can’t afford to rent anymore, some can’t deal with the nuisances of weekly neighbour changes.
In the long term, this will lead to a modification of patterns in the city, changing the very same thing that attracted tourist in the first place.
Venice is a perfect but sad example of what will happen if this massifcation of tourist attractions is not studied, regulated and managed properly.
And it must be a common effort. Government, local authorities, businesses, venues and hotels must put their brains together to ensure that in the years to come, our 3* Michelin restaurant will not become a side-road, deep-frozen-pizza stall.