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How’s Gillian Tans Is Tackling The Curse Of Overtourism

Isabel Togoh
How’s Gillian Tans Is Tackling The Curse Of Overtourism

Image Credit: Web Summit via Flickr

Finding ways to meet the demands of eco-conscious travel lovers and other holidaymakers jaded by over tourism is a growing concern for chairwoman Gillian Tans.

Speaking at the Forbes Under 30 Europe summit in Berlin, Tans said that is thinking about how best to address this growing awareness, as the travel industry faces pushback from local communities concerned about the environmental and social impact of mass tourism.

“We do a lot of research with consumers, and more and more we see that consumers really care about overtourism, and think about making a different type of choice. Consumers also want companies to show them sustainable choices,” Tans told Forbes, following her onstage discussion with Ophelia Brown, founder of VC fund Blossom Capital.

Tans added that Booking has a booster program in which they help sustainable tourism startups make a bigger impact in their communities, including the Global Himalaya Expedition that signs up tourists to help install solar panels in remote villages.’s beginnings

Tans joined Amsterdam-based as its seventh employee and become chief executive in 2016. The Dutch startup was acquired by Priceline in 2005 and has since become Europe’s largest online travel agent. Tans never planned to become CEO, but she said that she was empowered by Booking’s founders to make mistakes and that made her the leader that she is now.  

“In Europe, I think it’s also how we are raised. We are raised to try and avoid failure, and I think in companies we’ve seen it’s super crucial that you fail because that’s actually where you learn. And then there’s the other element to fail fast and to keep trying,” said Tans.

“Many of the things you see at, we had to have many attempts, and we had to try again and then fail and then try again, but these are things that are super successful today.”

“You need to create a culture where people can innovate, and failure is a big, big part of that,” said Tans, who stepped down as CEO in June 2019. “I was supported to make mistakes, but I was empowered to make decisions.”

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