Overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is subjective but it can be defined in different destinations by key stakeholders; and in the case of residential areas such as Cripplegate it is the needs of local residents that should be prioritised. When rent rises push out local retailers to make room for bars, restaurants and shops selling luxury goods and trinkets to tourists, that is overtourism. When you can’t get around because walkways are jammed with sightseers and visitors attending middle-brow ‘art’ events, that is overtourism. When tourists cannot view landmarks or transient cultural manifestations because of the crowds, when fragile ensembles of listed buildings become degraded, when street art is being commissioned by the local authority and covered with Perspex to protect it, when there are huge signs installed on walls to inform passersby about public art, when accommodation for key workers is replaced by luxury apartments aimed at property investors who’ll leave them empty and bank on a overheated housing market to reap them a profit – these are all signs of overtourism, as well as gentrification and social cleansing. And these are all things currently happening in Cripplegate and Aldersgate and which the City of London’s Culture Mile strategy is designed to exacerbate.
If the City of London wishes to become a ‘world-class’ cultural destination then clearly it needs to dump its current arts policies that relentlessly pursue the middle-brow, apparently with the aim of facilitating corporate junkets. More of a gritty urban vibe is required, alongside cultural institutions that actively do away with the Puritanism that has characterised the City establishment for hundreds of years. The last thing needed is a privately educated knob like “Sir’ Simon Rattle promoting light orchestral garbage in a specially built and extortionately expensive ‘Centre for Music’ AKA a concert hall. The best way to vibe up the neighbourhood is the provision of a great deal more social housing, so that there is an even bigger working class population. Not that it isn’t substantial already on both the Golden Lane Estate within the City of London, and in the extensive Peabody Trust social housing that lies just over the borough boundary with Islington.Read more "Culture Mile: A Nightmare On Beech Street"