The coronavirus outbreak in late 2019 and the subsequent restrictions on mobility and physical contacts caused an extreme collapse of international tourism. Shortly before the pandemic turned the world upside down, one of the most pressing issues in global tourism was a phenomenon that became known as overtourism. It describes massively the negative impacts of tourism on destinations and the frustrated residents protesting against it, with discontent reaching a dimension that could hardly be estimated at the time when Doxey’s Irritation Index was created. Especially in southern European destinations, thousands of people have taken to the streets over their dissatisfaction with the unlimited growth of tourism and its negative effects on their daily lives. Within a few years, small neighbourhood actions morphed into coordinated social movements demanding that politicians make fundamental changes to the socio-economic system. Those events demonstrate a politicizing effect of tourism that has not sufficiently been addressed hitherto in tourism research, which is mainly focused on the attitude of the visited towards tourism itself. This article offers a broader socio-political approach that focuses on tourism as one of the largest industries within a capitalist system that has massive impacts on people’s lives, rather than simply on changing attitudes towards tourism. Twelve problem-centred interviews with actors of the anti-overtourism movements in the Balearic Island of Mallorca were conducted to examine the effects of overtourism and COVID-19-caused tourism breakdown on residents’ socio-political perspectives. Building on the transformative learning theory developed by the American sociologist Jack Mezirow, the analysis of the data revealed far-reaching influences on residents’ personal development, fundamental perspectives and professional decisions.
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