Is Sonoma and Napa at stage 3 or 4?
LA Times “Essential California” “Though you’ve probably never heard of it, the Irridex (a portmanteau for “irritation” and “index”) is as ubiquitous in the tourism studies field as the Kübler-Ross model is in psychiatry. But unlike Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her five stages of grief, Doxley set out to describe the effects of increased tourism on a host community. He divided the deteriorating responses into four stages: euphoria, apathy, irritation and antagonism.”
There are more than a billion Instagram users worldwide, and for a few weekends this spring it seemed like nearly all of them were in Lake Elsinore, driven by super bloom mania.
The actual number of visitors artfully posed in the orange poppy fields was more likely in the hundreds of thousands. But they overwhelmed the area to disastrous effect, with the city declaring it a public safety emergency. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” as the mayor of Lake Elsinore told a reporter.
Sonoma Plaza. Council has restricted tasting rooms due to over concentration, binge tourism.
The whole thing was a classic example of overtourism.
Think Thailand’s Phi Phi Beach, which will be closed for the next two years to recover from environmental damage, the anti-tourist banners unfurled in Barcelona, or residents of the pastel-colored homes on Paris’ Rue Crémieux demanding gates to keep out the invasion of Instagrammers.
Tourism is a double-edged sword: Communities depend on the revenue and jobs it brings, but the influx of people it attracts can overpower and at times even destroy.
“Overuse can lead to damage of the resources and compromise the long-term productivity of the very object that people are going to see,” John Kleinfelter, a wilderness expert who founded Yosemite Guide Service, said over the phone as he led a group down a trail through the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove.
The issue can be especially acute in places like Monterey County, where tourism ranks as the second-largest industry after agriculture.
“It comes up constantly,” said Pam Marino, a reporter at Monterey County Weekly who has written about tourism for several years. “You hear it at City Council meetings, because I cover a few different cities in the county,” she continued.
Take the famously rugged coastline of Big Sur, where tourism drives much of the economy but also exacts a rough toll on the remote area. The number of visitors can overwhelm the limited infrastructure and seriously affect residents’ quality of life.
“They kind of got a reprieve from tourists for a while, but for sad reasons,” Marino explained, citing the Soberanes Fire and the storm damage and landslides that closed roads in 2017. “But as soon as the roads opened up, then the tourists were back. I think the Instagram effect is real for them. The Bixby Bridge gets mentioned the world over, and people see that on social media and then they want to go and get selfies with the Bixby Bridge.”