Overbooked is about the power of travel, as the world’s business travel and tourism has a great impact, both good and bad, on tourists and their destinations. Becker, an investigative journalist by profession, puts together great stories and statistics. For example, in the city of Venice tourism has pushed out locals and hollowed out society. Venice’s remaining 60,000 natives welcome over 20 million tourists each year. In Cambodia, to make space for beach resorts and casinos, farmers were expulsed from land their families had occupied for centuries. And then there is Dubai: the surreal city where everything is the biggest and the most outrageous of architectural fantasies and the old motto “build it and they will come” was implemented and it is not difficult to find a hotel for $5,000 per night built by laborers paid $175 per month. On the continent of Africa where one can still hunt for hippos or elephants for $60,000 and a pound of ivory is worth $700 lb, children told anthropologists that they wanted to grow up to be tourists so they could spend the day doing nothing but eating. Ever popular Cruise ships produce vast quantities of waste that environmentalist wonder how long the globe can continue to support 1 billion people racing around the world for a long weekend on a beach.
Becker eloquently conveys the message that tourism plays in important role in widening appreciation of different cultures via informal diplomacy, as well as exchanging wealth from rich to poor nations, a brilliant and desired social effect of redistribution without taxation. The solutions, according to Becker are fewer, but longer vacations which are closer to home and to remember that we vote with our feet.