The decision to visit Lisbon was relatively spontaneous. The process of booking tickets, looking for the apartment and planning trip in general forced me to think about global changes, which happened in the world during last 20 years. Flight from Berlin to Lisbon is available every day and takes 3 hours in general. Only 3 hours, and you are on the other side of Europe, it is already fascinating, isn’t it? If some years ago it was just a huge unreachable dream to see the ocean in a few hours, now it is the reality, which people can buy less, than for 50 euros (sometimes even cheaper, if you are lucky enough). Of course, huge amount of people want to use this possibility, the number of visitors is rising each year, but are they bringing benefits for the city in reality?
This is a very complicated and complex issue. Mass tourism very often is interpreted as only negative phenomena, despite the fact, that it also has some positive sides, like exploring new cultures and finding new ways of common dialog. But talking about the danger of mass tourism for urban places, the first idea, what is coming to my mind is the example of such cities like Venice and Amsterdam, where because of the number of visitors cities are literally dying under the pressure of hundred, thousands, millions of people, coming there each year. Many daily things became problematic for local population, started from normal using of public transport and ending with the rising prices for rent, which became incredibly huge after the boom of mass tourism. Locals started leave the cities, and now it rarely could be found an apartment in the city center made not like hotel, hostel or guest house. The biggest danger which could be a result of such a process is the loosing of identity or, if you want “the face of the city”, culture, habits and traditions kept for decades by its inhabitants.
I will not talk about all the benefits, which Lisbon has, because it is already well known tourist destination and does not need additional advertising. It has similar problems as other European capitals and also suffers from mass tourism, especially in the spring-summer period. Even in the end of February, from the first view, not very top tourist season, there were already a lot of people enjoying the first spring sun in the main city of Portugal. But there is a big difference, which is very visible starting from the first hours in Lisbon – despite of not very big size of the city, there is enough place for everybody. The main rule of Lisbon I would describe in one word – respect. Respect between tourist and locals – here is the simple secret of city's success. If locals want to keep their favorite restaurant in the city center for the dinner on Friday evening, they could reserve all tables there, and it does not really matter, how big is desire or wallet of the tourist, who read on a “Trip advisor”, that “exactly this restaurant will present you the best food of Lisbon” - if the restaurant is already booked, you have no chances. This is a clear signal for city guests, that locals also have a right and mood to have a dinner in their favorite place, so please, respect it. If you are not lucky enough to hear “fado” (famous Portuguese music) in a well-known part of the city Bairro Alto, Lisbon prepared an alternative in a face of many young musicians, who are playing really cool music (traditional as well) just on the middle of the squares and streets absolutely for free. If the Santa Justa Lift in the heart of Lisbon is not available because of huge amount of people staying in a crew to get there, locals will definitely help you to find something else for the sightseeing, maybe not so popular, but still very beautiful. The only one thing, which you have to do is to ask and also not to be afraid to discover something new, even though it is not well-known, like Pastolaria on Largo do Rato 7, which is more than 200 years old but still produces one of the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon. These small things make this city very special for everybody, but at the same time keep the cities identity, which could not be mixed up with anything else.
We have more freedom to travel, more freedom to choose what to discover and where to go, but we also have to feel more responsibility before each new trip. The example of Lisbon shows, that with mutual respect and readiness for new openings it is possible to transform such a negative from the first view phenomena as mass tourism in a positive intercultural communication. The conclusion from the Lisbon trip is very logical and understandable: let's just try to enjoy it with responsibility and respect to each other, because we have a numerous things to share.