Is Overtourism Good or Bad for Beautiful Big Sur?

A native writer explores sides and solutions.

In a piece for Outside magazine, writer Josh Marcus, wonders if Big Sur’s popularity is a plus for his hometown or a curse. On one side, there’s money … from the waves of tourists that support local business who have come to rely on visitors and their dollars. On the other, there’s the traffic, the noise, the environmental damage and overall unpleasantness of too many cars and phone-wielding hoards.

According to Marcus, “Big Sur staked its future on tourism with the completion of Highway 1, and many locals say that bet paid off until around the late 2000s, when social media ascended and unleashed Instagram travel, adventure selfies, and bucket lists on us all.

“’Before all this, when somebody would come to Big Sur, they were subordinate to the landscape,’ says Butch Kronlund, executive director of the Community Association of Big Sur. ‘Now it’s as if the people coming to us are stars of a movie they’re in, and Big Sur is just a backdrop to their antics.’”

“These antics are testing Big Sur’s institutions, ecosystems, and patience. There are 4.6 million one-way vehicle trips on that stretch of the single-lane highway each year. Public bathrooms are scant, so toilet paper and shit accumulate on the roadside. Illegal camping caused one of the costliest wildfires in U.S. history in 2016. The peaceful Big Sur that residents remember is disappearing.”

Read more about the Big Sur’s tourism dilemma here.

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