Tourism the World’s Largest Industry

overbooked_, ocean author, ocean book, dive tourism, dive travel, sustainable dive industryTourism, fast becoming the largest global business, employs one out of twelve persons and produces $6.5 trillion of the world’s economy. In the groundbreaking expose,  Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, journalist Elizabeth Becker investigates the effects of the world’s top industry, both positive and negative, uncovering how what was once a hobby has become a colossal enterprise with profound impact on countries, the environment, and cultural heritage.

Becker’s book is a first examination of one of the largest and potentially most destructive enterprises in the world. Seeing the tourism industry from the inside out, through her eyes and ears, we experience a dizzying range of travel options though very few quiet getaways.


Over 1 Billion Travel Annually

This invisible industry exploded at the end of the Cold War. In 2012 the number of tourists traveling the world reached one billion. Now everything can be packaged as a tour: with the high cost of medical care in the U.S., Americans are booking a vacation and an operation in countries like Turkey for a fraction of the cost at home.

Becker travels the world to take the measure of the business: France invented the travel business and is still its leader; Venice is expiring of over-tourism. In Cambodia, tourists crawl over the temples of Angkor, jeopardizing precious cultural sites. Costa Rica rejected raising cattle for American fast-food restaurants to protect their wilderness for the more lucrative field of eco-tourism.


From Sand Dunes to Safaris

Dubai has transformed a patch of desert in the Arabian Gulf into a mammoth shopping mall. Africa’s safaris are thriving, even as its wildlife is threatened by foreign poachers. Large cruise ships are spoiling the oceans and ruining city ports as their American-based companies reap handsome profits through tax loopholes. China, the giant, is at last inviting tourists and sending its own out in droves. The United States, which invented some of the best of tourism, has lost its edge due to political battles. Becker reveals travel as product.

Through personal experiences and interviews, Becker sheds light on topics ranging from the detrimental effects the cruise industry has on the environment and how it has ruined the authenticity in cities (and how they get away with it through political loopholes) to the booming segment of Chinese travelers that will essentially determine the future of tourism. The author takes a hard look at some of the world’s leading countries in terms of tourism, analyzing what they’re doing right and what has gone wrong.


An Unexamined Industry

Tourism is one of the world’s largest – and unexamined – industries. Elizabeth Becker takes readers on a compelling journey across continents to show just how essential tourism is to global prosperity. Becker does so, not by loading readers down with statistics but by taking her audience around the world to match up the daunting numbers with places, adventures, and even pitfalls that will appeal to a wide audience.