Unpacking overtourism as a discursive formation through interdiscursivity

Michael O’ Regan, Noel B. Salazar, Jaeyeon Choe, Dimitrios Buhalis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: As tourism destinations grapple with declines in tourist arrivals due to COVID-19 measures, scholarly debate on overtourism remains active, with discussions on solutions that could be enacted to contain the excessive regrowth of tourism and the return of “overtourism”. As social science holds an important role and responsibility to inform the debate on overtourism, this paper aims to understand overtourism by examining it as a discursive formation. Design/methodology/approach: The paper explores recurring thematic threads in scholarly overtourism texts, given the phrases coherence as a nodal-point is partially held in place by a collective body of texts authored by a network of scholars who have invested in it. The paper uses interdiscursivity as an interpretative framework to identify overlapping thematic trajectories found in existing discourses. Findings: Overtourism, as a discursive formation, determines what can and should be said about the self-evident “truths” of excessive tourist arrivals, the changes tourists bring to destinations and the range of discursive solutions available to manage or end overtourism. As the interpellation of these thematic threads into scholarly texts is based on a sense of crisis and urgency, the authors find that the themes contain rhetoric, arguments and metaphors that problematise tourists and construct them as objects in need of control and correction. Originality/value: While the persistence of the discursive formation will be determined by the degree to which scholarly and other actors recognise themselves in it, this paper may enable overtourism scholars to become aware of the limits of their discursive domain and help them to expand the discourse or weave a new one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-71
Number of pages18
JournalTourism Review
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2022


  • Tourism
  • Carrying capacity
  • Discourse
  • Overtourism
  • Discursive formation
  • Tourist behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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