I’m spending today at one of the most famous sites in all the world: Machu Picchu. To get access to this historical site, we had to buy tickets weeks in advance as they limit the number of people (only 2,500 per day) who can visit this UNESCO Inca sanctuary. Several years ago, Peru began limiting the number of visitors and the amount of time allowed in order to preserve the beauty and history of this sacred place.
I’ve written about overtourism before and how dramatically I felt it when I visited Prague last summer. Cheaper travel is reason for it, but there’s another phenomenon at play and that is the droves of Instagramers flocking to particular places “for the gram”. I’ve witnessed this peculiar activity many times, people popping in just to pose in a cute outfit in a famous place for the picture, then leaving a few minutes later, not even staying to appreciate the place they spent so much time getting to.
As a life long West coaster, I’ve been a long time follower of Sunset Magazine. Recently they posted an image on their Instagram profile of a beautiful coastal pool but didn’t identify the location. Within their commentary they referenced the influx of Instagrammers and and their effect on places of natural beauty. Followers chimed in with their perspectives as well (the comments are a worthy read.)
Uncontrollable numbers of people have caused bloom fields to be shut down with just too many people that arrive to see the flowers and take pictures. Some Instagram influencers go on the defensive explaining their images, feeling an obligation to write about responsible enjoyment.
People have a right to travel to places that are open to the public and witness the beauty of the natural world as long as they’re respectful. Today I’m taking pictures in this historic place I’m visiting, but I’ll also be soaking in how special it is. However, I can’t help but notice how obsessed our society has become with our cell phones and social media shares of places of natural beauty.
Where do we draw the line? Is it up to governments to regulate, or is it up to us as a society to follow basic rules of decency and simply be respectful? Have you seen this phenomenon of the influx of Instagrammers in your towns or in your travels?