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Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism
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Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  398 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
The largest global business in the world today is tourism. Employing one out of twelve people in the world and producing $6.5 trillion of the world’s economy, it is the main source of income for many countries. Elizabeth Becker describes the dimensions of this industry and its huge effect on the world economy, the environment, and our culture.

Tourism, fast becoming the la
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Hardcover, 464 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published March 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Diane
Mar 11, 2016 Diane rated it liked it
This was an interesting look at the travel industry around the world. The author spent years researching and visiting different cities and countries. There are chapters on France, Venice, China, Dubai, Zambia, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and the United States. I think my favorite sections were about how mass tourism can destroy a region, the rising trend of eco-tourism, the cruise ship industry, the problems China has faced with travelers, and African safaris.

The book is a blend of the author's person
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Bethany
Jun 03, 2013 Bethany rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A lot of really interesting, well-researched and balanced (for the most part, although the China part felt a little...really? you think the 2008 Beijing Olympics went off without a hitch? what about those gymnasts?) information about tourism around the world--from the U.S. to African safaris to ecotourism to Bordeaux & the Eiffel tower.

Four stars instead of five because I felt like her thesis was weak--"tourism is great sometimes but not so good other times!" just feels a bit lacking to me.
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Judy Colprubin
Aug 26, 2013 Judy Colprubin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in travel
Recommended to Judy by: Amazon
As an avid traveler I was looking forward to reading this book, a disparate collection of observations about the history and trends within the travel industry.
I found the beginning chapters very interesting -- how France became a tourism superpower and how Venice is going under (and not from the water). As others have noted, the section on the cruise industry is fascinating and might do more to deter tourists than any Titanic film.
The explosion of Chinese tourism, both in and out of the country
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Peter Stuckings
Jan 03, 2014 Peter Stuckings rated it really liked it
My impressions of this book are shaped more by what it turned out not to be. I expected a strong discussion of the destruction that tourism has wrought across the planet, detailing not only environmental abuses, but the exploitation of ethnic minorities and cultural heritage, etc. Instead Elizabeth has managed a very detailed analysis of the current state of the world's least visible and noticed, yet about its largest, industry. There are minor criticisms of the way things run in some parts of ...more
Peggy Page
Jul 26, 2013 Peggy Page rated it liked it
Are there no editors anymore? This book is packed with great information -- shocking information -- about mass tourism and its impact on the great places of the world (and the better forgotten places like Dubai) so well worth the read. But the writing is SHOCKINGLY bad - disorganized, banal, redundant, sloppy, downright lousy writing. This person is a professional writer? I found myself so distracted by rewriting her sentences that I had to constantly go back to read for content! Are our ...more
Scott
May 16, 2013 Scott rated it it was ok
Hm, a potentially very interesting topic dumbed down and made somewhat boring by the author. The author comes off as preachy and elitist at times and she has a tendency to selectively pick information and conform it to her sometimes fanciful assertions.
Eric Rock
Mar 28, 2014 Eric Rock rated it liked it
More a travelogue of meetings accessed with journalistic credentials than an authoritative and disciplined analysis of the structure, economics, past and future of travel. I continue with a chapter every now and then but have yet to see a consistent approach to getting the story behind the story.
Eustacia Tan
Oct 03, 2016 Eustacia Tan rated it it was amazing
When I first flipped through Overbooked, I was rather disappointed that neither Singapore nor Japan got their own chapter. Now that I'm done, however, I feel rather relieved. I like to think that these two countries are doing tourism right, but what if they aren't?

Overbooked is a look at the economy of tourism, and how it's affecting different countries. It's grouped according to a theme, and within each theme, a certain country is highlighted as a case study. The result is an easy to read book
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Caroline
Mar 01, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it
This was one of those books that really opened my eyes to an issue I had never given much thought to before. I've been fortunate in my life to be able to travel a relative amount - I have been half a world away; I have visited some countries numerous times; I cannot think of a year in my life when I've not been out of the country somewhere. But I've never really stopped to think about travel, about tourism as an industry before, and its positives and negatives. So this book was a real ...more
Adam
Jun 01, 2015 Adam rated it liked it
I was disappointed to see Somaly Mam being used as a source for information on Cambodia’s sex trade since she has been exposed as a fraud and forced to resign from her foundation. Her resignation occurred the year after this book was published but when paying $20 for an e-book I’d expect the publisher to add a footnote to denote such a major event.

Becker presented tourism as the sole cause of child prostitution in Cambodia and failed to mention that the majority of the trade has developed aroun
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LeeAnn Heringer
It's hard for me to put my finger on why I disliked this book. There was a whole attitude of, well, I lived in Paris for years, I went to Angkor Wat right after the war when no one knew about it, I went here and there before it was a thing, I refused to pay extra to hold a baby panda, that just set my teeth on edge. There was a whole, I traveled at the right time, the right way, and you're just making a mess of it and ruining the planet, that I found annoying. But at the same time, she's very ...more
Tamara
Interesting, but I felt ended a little weakly, at the chapters on China and the USA, where tourism-to and tourism-from were mixed together haphazardly. Becker seems to have arrived at a conclusion about the list of pros and cons of global travel by then and everything was just being balanced against that list. Particularly there, it felt far too journalistic, boiling down to a few interviews, sometimes a little too fawning, with a few boutique hotel owners and tour guides and missing the ...more
Irene
Jul 03, 2014 Irene rated it it was ok
Although the author was very thorough and complete in her description of the travel and tourism industry, I found her writing style very clinical. I thought this book could have doubled as a university textbook or encyclopedia for a class in tourism and travel.

I found her observations, especially about the Chinese very interesting, but forgive me for saying this, she is a travel snob and came across as extremely high maintenance. I would start sharpening my axe if we traveled together.

Her detai
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Dеnnis
I can clearly see why this book wasn't rated higher in spite of tons of interesting information, relevant and enlightening statistics and a number of appropriate interviews and perspectives offered. The book is a curious cross between a thorough study of the industry and a travelogue, penned, at times, in a rather annoying style. I'm glad she interviewed all those people from all walks of tourist life, but I'd be thankful, if I could be left in the dark as per how she managed to obtain those ...more
Katie
May 16, 2013 Katie added it
Part travelogue, part industry overview, this book offers insights into the international travel industry and reminds us why it's important. By no means comprehensive, it will still change the way you view travel--from newspaper travel coverage to the cruise industry to China's rise and America's fall and beyond. It will also make you want to book a trip to Bourdeaux (as if you didn't want to already).
Kelly
Apr 22, 2013 Kelly rated it it was ok
While its fascinating from a historical perspective, I found this book disappointing because it was entirely backwards looking with no insights shared regarding the growth or future of this industry. The description implies it is current/forward looking and it should really provide a better indication of its historical focus.
Amy
May 15, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
21st century tourism is a massive industry that can support or destroy cultural treasures, the environment and economic prosperity. Becker's analysis spans the globe from China to Costa Rica to Zambia and examines the underbelly of luxury consumerism. Interesting. Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker.
Lincoln
May 21, 2013 Lincoln rated it really liked it
This is great, entertaining book. I wish I could give it 4.5 stars - but if you like traveling and if you like business, it's a funny, witty peephole into an evil business. The cruise ship and the Venice chapters are so so memorable, and the China chapters loads of fun.
Robert Davidson
May 19, 2013 Robert Davidson rated it it was amazing
very interesting read showing the side of travel and tourism most of us never see or think about. the cruise ship tales were an eyeopener and i now understand why more ports of call are refusing them entry.
Denise Smith
Nov 04, 2013 Denise Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Absolutely fascinating in-depth look at the travel industry as a world wide event. Really made me think about what it means to travel responsibly and thoughtfully.
Kitty
May 11, 2013 Kitty rated it liked it
I enjoyed the first half of this book on the business of the travel industry worldwide, but when life got busy I put it aside and didn't feel compelled enough to come back to it.
K Shah
Nov 17, 2016 K Shah rated it it was ok
Poorly written and disorganized and at times repetitive. Had a few good case studies - particularly Bordeaux, France; Costa Rica; and the cruise industry.
Nicole
Feb 13, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it
"Overbooked" is an examination of an often overlooked industry: tourism and travel. Elizabeth Becker offers substantive insight, using the case study method, on the instrumental role governments play in driving and curbing the tourism/travel industry and the limitations of using it as tool for economic development. The historical information presented, especially about the functions of the UN and the business community, is quite informative and enlightening. After reading this, I hope to become ...more
Marilee
Feb 18, 2014 Marilee rated it really liked it
Fascinating discourse, if a bit uneven, on the tourism and travel industry. Perhaps I related to this book because I travel… a lot, as opposed to just taking vacations. This book is an examination of the pros and cons of travel and tourism, with an emphasis on how important tourism is to economies around the world, as well as the impact millions of visitors have on their destinations. Close attention is paid to selected areas that are problem ridden as well as those countries and policies that ...more
Mary
Oct 04, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
As a frequent traveler I approached this book with some trepidation. The title made me fear that I'd be made to feel guilty--not fun. Plus, this is a big book on what sounds like a pretty dry topic. So I was hesitant. But, having traveled over a lot of the planet in the past few years, I wanted to learn more about the business of travel, who benefits, who doesn't, and why. And I'm very glad I did read this book. From the beginning the author's thesis is a powerful one, that travel and tourism ...more
Alysa
May 11, 2014 Alysa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating story of the growth and development of the tourist industry worldwide, with several examples of tourism throughout. Each section describes a 'type' of tourism, with a few chapters dedicated to individual countries or areas that are known for that type of tourism. The final two sections are focused on China—where tourism both to and from is booming—and the US—once known as THE place for tourism, but now in decline.

The book gets a bit slow in the middle, but muddle through it
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Mandy Fritsch
Mar 14, 2016 Mandy Fritsch rated it really liked it
This peak into the business and sustainability sides of a hobby I have come to enjoy was a bit unnerving, even guilt-inducing. Becker looks at tourism as a hidden economy and an open threat to the environment from several angles: Western Europe, emerging economies, areas of high biodiversity, China and at home. I certainly learned a lot.
One of the more interesting sub-theses the author takes up is that a government can often make or break a country's system. While the United States' oft-modeled
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Haley
Jan 08, 2016 Haley rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
When Elizabeth Becker first published an article in the Washington Post at the beginning of her research for this book, a reader commented as follows:

"I was starting to wonder if I was the only one, in a society of liberal-eco-concerned-travel maniacs, who saw the contradiction in travel."

I know for fact that prior to reading this book, I, like many other members of my wander-lusting generation, knew nothing of the expansive and often destructive nature of the tourism industry, and could (albei
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Mary
Dec 18, 2014 Mary rated it it was ok
Surprisingly difficult book to read on what should be an enjoyable subject-vacation travel. Although I give the author credit for providing at look at various segments of vacation travel-"green" resorts, senior citizen tours, "ecotourism" (small-scale, low-impact travel to ecologically sensitive areas), medical tourism (combining a medical procedure with overseas vacation), cruises, safaris, national and theme parks, her writing style is long and unwieldy (she uses the phrases "no more than..." ...more
Christine
Mar 01, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Becker, a former correspondent for the New York Times spent five years investigating the global tourism industry during her time as a fellow at Harvard. This book is the fruit of her labor, and has honestly changed the way I view tourism and travel entirely. I was guilty of the tendency to think of travel in a simpler dimension, seeing it as an individual right instead of public responsibility. Becker shows us, through data and personal experiences, the consequences and opportunities ...more
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“To make way for more resorts with spectacular views, developers destroy native habitats and ignore local concerns. Preservationists decry the growing propensity to bulldoze old hotels and buildings in favor of constructing new resorts, water holes and entertainment spots that look identical whether in Singapore, Dubai or Johannesburg; a world where diversity is replaced with homogeneity. Another catastrophe for countries betting on tourism has come from wealthy vacationers who fall in love with a country and buy so many second houses that locals can no longer afford to live in their own towns and villages. Among the more thoughtful questions is how mass tourism has changed cultures. African children told anthropologists that they want to grow up to be tourists so they could spend the day doing nothing but eating. The tourists who do not speak the local language and rely on guides to tell them what they are seeing and what to think marvel at countries like China with its new wealth and appearance of democracy. Environmentalists wonder how long the globe can continue to support 1 billion people racing around the world for a long weekend on a beach or a ten-day tour of an African game park.” 1 likes
“This noncompetitive sale of public property for private gain was being duplicated around the country. The government has orchestrated the sale of state assets to new private business ventures that had close ties to top officials and their families. The government used the same dictatorial powers to declare privately held lands part of new “development zones” to sell those, in turn, to business ventures tied to the government. This was all done behind closed doors with no competitive bidding, public hearings or judicial review.” 0 likes
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