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This free ESL lesson plan on overtourism has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

As nations become wealthier, their people travel more. Once the preserve of the middle class from Western nations, today, as the global middle class has massively expanded in populous countries like China, Brazil and India, tourism has also experienced an explosion. While this has been great for local economies, and obviously great for the people who get to experience the world, it has not been without its negative consequences. Housing prices have rocketed in tourist hotspots, forcing locals out of the places they call home. Ancient sites of historical importance find themselves with irreparable damages. And who can ignore the impact on the environment this boom in travel is responsible for? In this ESL lesson plan on overtourism, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the causes, consequences and solutions to excessive tourism.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Tourism Day, which takes place in September. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Nomadic Matt | Overtourism: How You Can Help Solve This Worldwide Problem

In this blog post, Nomadic Matt explains some of the causes of overtourism and what tourists can do to avoid contributing to this problem whilst still enjoying their trips. Advice includes visiting areas other than the most popular ones, eating away from the tourist areas, and being environmentally friendly. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is called “Too Many People Want to Travel” by The Atlantic which looks at the reasons why so many more people are travelling today, and what the negative consequences of this boom in tourism has brought.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the reasons more people are travelling today, how to escape the crowds, and which places are suffering because of overtourism.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with overtourism such as cruise, package holiday and throng. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about overtourism. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the effect of overtourism on house prices, whether tourist numbers should be restricted, and whether it’s hypocritical for tourists and locals to complain about overtourism.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of overtourism. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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