FORT WASHINGTON, Md. -- Travel Leaders Group has introduced an initiative to study and address overtourism, CEO Ninan Chacko said during a media briefing at the Travel Leaders Network EDGE conference here.

Chacko said Travel Leaders Group has partnered with New York University's School of Professional Studies to research overtourism. Graduate students started working on the initiative in January and have created an index that destinations can use to see if they might face overtourism issues. It takes into account economic factors, accommodation capacity and environmental concerns.

Travel Leaders Group also surveyed destination marketing companies, finding 80% have had issues with overtourism, and just over half, 53%, have acted to address the issues. That action, Travel Leaders Group said, has included educating travel advisors on less popular destinations or seasons.

The company also surveyed agents, finding that the vast majority (82%) believe the industry should be proactive in addressing overtourism. Most (77%) support popular attractions limiting the number of visitors during busy times, and half support fees as a way to control crowds. 

Chacko said this marks the beginning of Travel Leaders' work on addressing overtourism. He likened it to early innings in a long game. The company has already started working with destinations to craft itineraries that highlight destinations and regions that aren't as crowded. 

He also said Travel Leaders Group will work to educate its advisors on overtourism and how to help reduce overtourism and its negative effects.

"We join the DMOs in their belief that travel advisors play a crucial role in educating travelers about alternative destinations, itineraries or seasons," Chacko said in a statement. "Our goal is to work with our advisors and destination partners to identify those alternatives and be a principal source of that information."

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