CULTURATI – a European project wants to avert the consequences of mass tourism

For a long time now, traveling, especially to distant and particularly exotic places, has been the favorite way for many people to spend their free time. As a result, certain destinations can hardly keep themselves free of tourists. Mass tourism has taken hold in these places. 

In recent decades, global tourism has increased steadily. One of the most popular travel destinations: Europe (in 2022, four of the top 10 global destinations were in Europe, with London on the top spot and Paris on number three). And even though tourism has, of course, taken a significant hit due to Corona - the market is recovering. 


Mass tourism and overtourism - what do they actually mean? 


Both terms basically mean the same thing, namely that there is a disproportionate number of tourists in certain places. The term overtourism also emphasizes the negative aspects of this overcrowding, because as nice as it can be for individuals to finally enjoy a well-deserved vacation, the consequences for destinations can be drastic.


For locals, the ever-growing crowds of tourists can mean real and, at worst, permanent restrictions. After all, at the latest when one can no longer move freely in one's own hometown, feels like a supporting actor in the everyday life of a vacation set of strangers, or living space or local stores are replaced by tourist attractions and accommodations, the tolerance limit is reached for many people. Nature also suffers from the hordes of tourists who, for example, hike along ancient stone paths or take a shell or two from the beach. Not to mention the permanent disturbance by human noise, garbage or vehicles.

This overcrowding is also unpleasant for tourists, whether it is standing in line for the Colosseum in Rome at 30 degrees or only being able to see the Mona Lisa from a distance because the crowds are too heavy.


However, tourism is a good, if not sometimes the only source of income for many cities and municipalities. Still, the pressure of suffering is high and solutions are needed so that tourists come but do not become a massive disruptive factor.


Cities and municipalities are already fighting back against mass tourism with various measures, such as the introduction of additional fees (Manchester, for example, recently introduced a tourist tax), limiting visitor numbers or promoting 'second-tier destinations' to make them more attractive and relieve the pressure on the main destinations.


Some solutions get very creative: last year, for example, the license plate regulation on the Amalfi Coast made headlines. Due to the unacceptably high volume of traffic during the vacation season, cars with even license plate numbers were temporarily allowed to drive on the famous Amalfitana coastal road there only on even calendar days and cars with odd license plate numbers only on odd calendar days. In the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik, the number of cruise ships that dock per day and tourist buses that are allowed to enter the city were severely limited in 2019. Tips on what to do individually to counteract mass tourism are available here.


CULTURATI: All or nothing? Or is there another way? 


The situation seems tricky: if you limit mass tourism in particularly hard-hit regions, this can lead to important revenues being lost.  If tourism is not limited, the landscape, cultural assets and the quality of life of the locals suffer. So what can be done? This is the question the European cultural project CULTURATI wants to answer and offer a solution to the problem of mass tourism. To launch the project, part of the IOTIQ team traveled therefore to Ankara, where the project was officially presented at a conference.

CULTURATI aims to improve the basic visitor experience in museums, open-air sites or tourist hotspots. For this purpose, a unique combination of content, technology and artificial intelligence will be applied. IOTIQ will take care of the technical part and will be jointly responsible for the development of the IT infrastructure.


Individual experience vs. mass tourism


The basic concern of CULTURATI is complex. On the one hand, interesting information about possible tourist destinations should be created with the help of content creators. This means that insiders and locals can also share their tips and knowledge via an online platform.

Tourists who visit a castle, for example, can choose whether they want to focus their tour on art, history or something else. It should also be possible to choose what level of knowledge one has. This will make information much more accessible and personalized than before. The one-size-fits-all approach often found in museums today is thus dissolved.

In addition, sensors are installed in the museums or open-air sites at usually highly frequented locations to measure the number of visitors.

Each visitor can be guided through the historical or cultural site with the help of a guide, which can also be downloaded to one's own smartphone, for example, and thanks to CULTURATI is given an individual route that is calculated in real time by an AI. The data from the sensors is already incorporated here: if a place is already overcrowded at the time of one's own visit, the visitor is first redirected.

This individual experience not only makes museums, palaces, castles, etc. more attractive, but also allows tourists to have fun visiting highly frequented attractions, or to discover something away from the crowds. 


Europe comes together - and IOTIQ is right in the middle of it all. 


We always inform about our projects on our blog, so you already know how much we care about them. At CULTURATI, we are also proud to work with top-class partners. Among them are for example BILKENT University (TUR), Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill (UK), Porvoon Kaupunki, the second oldest city in Finland (FIN) and the Meridaunia region (IT), with its numerous castles and historical sites. 

The cooperation of the different actors ensures that the results of research and development can be tested live. Thus, the practical applicability is ensured. 

We will also report regularly on progress and innovations - so follow us today on Instagram and LinkedIn!