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A victim of its own tourism industry? Some suggest more action needed to preserve Vancouver for locals

Being a world class destination means attracting world class crowds -- but has Vancouver become too popular? Some say the city needs to do more to preserve itself for locals.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s estimated Vancouver saw up to 10-million tourists hit the beaches, parks, trails, and other attractions last year.

That’s a lot of people, so here’s a question: is the city just too popular?

Some are suggesting the tourism industry needs to take more drastic action to preserve Vancouver for locals, and prevent it from being further overwhelmed by the global tourism boom.

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Molly McCluskey is a CityLab contributor based in the U.S. — and a frequent visitor to Vancouver. Speaking on the Big Story Podcast, she says Vancouver is dealing with a problem some of the world’s oldest and most iconic cities have faced: just too many visitors.

“What point do you say, ‘We’re just closed?'” she told the podcast.

While Tourism Vancouver has taken steps to alleviate the pressure on some attractions and worked to promote the city’s shoulder season, McCluskey says maybe it should look to lessons learned in those areas of Europe, which are also feeling the crunch.

“You know, the Vienna Tourism Office has a random experience generator,” she says, laughing. “Where tourists can go in to their little shop, right on the plaza, and push a button and it’ll say ‘hey, maybe try here.'”

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McCluskey notes there are even some more drastic measures.

“Amsterdam has just stopped tourism promotion — they’ve shut down certain tourist attractions entirely,” she explains. “Bruges has just capped its daily cruise ship allowance from five to two.”

She suggests Vancouver’s tourism infrastructure now hits 95 per cent capacity, with certain attractions regularly overwhelmed. McCluskey says things like surge pricing for attractions and ticketing — even if they’re free tickets — would help meter out the people.

In the Greater Vancouver area, some districts have had to restrict access to sites due to the influx of people taking to tourist attractions.

In North Vancouver, for example, the district has enforced parking and access restrictions around Deep Cove to alleviate some of the congestion, especially in summer months, which can be a disruptive time for residents.

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Listen to more Big Story Podcast episodes here.