Selfie-Obsessed Tourists Are Ruining Beautiful Landmarks

Tourists who are obsessed with getting that perfect photo are ruining the natural landscape

What happens when you mix social media and beautiful landmarks? They get trampled by ravenous tourists looking for that Instagram-worthy snap.

Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” music video was filmed in Iceland, and racked up more than 440 million views on YouTube. As a result, the canyon of Fjaðrárgljúfur had to be closed due to severe environmental damage from too many tourists. Daníel Freyr Jónsson, the head of Iceland’s environment agency, said, “The great increase in foot traffic began after Bieber came. There has been an increase of 50 percent to 80 percent between 2016, 2017 and 2018.” Speaking to CNN, Inga Hlin Palsdottir, the director of the national tourism agency Visit Iceland said, “We need to build better infrastructure… so we can invite people all year round.”

But Iceland isn’t the only victim of social media attention. In March, the small town of Lake Elsinore in California received a stunning bloom of wildflowers, and attracted 50,000 visitors, which caused traffic jams, and resulted in the poppy blooms being trampled on. They had to introduce limited access routes, and charge $10 shuttle tickets, which helped to ease the damage. But last weekend, an estimated 100,000 people still visited to get that perfect selfie.

And let’s not forget Rue Crémleux, the street in Paris famous for its colourful facades. It was always a relatively quiet part of Paris, until Instagram influences caught wind of it. Now there are hordes of social media enthusiasts taking selfies outside homes, posing for wedding photo shoots, and even striking very unusual yoga poses. The residents have had enough, now asking the city to place gates at either end of the street to restrict access. There might be only one way for the city to pay attention to their pleas- for them to do a downward dog outside City Council.

And if you're interested in travelling without leaving an environmental footprint, VR tourism might be here sooner than you think. Tourism Australia has partnered with Google to better understand VR tourism, with the hope of one day using a VR headset to get transported anywhere in the world.