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Hit by a Tourist Boom, Cities Wonder When to Stop Self-Promotion

Hot tourism markets like Vancouver are seeing record numbers of new visitors, straining local resources and giving city-boosters a novel problem.
A tourist takes a photo of the Vancouver skyline. The Canadian city expects 10 million visitors this year.
A tourist takes a photo of the Vancouver skyline. The Canadian city expects 10 million visitors this year.Jae C. Hong/AP

VANCOUVER, B.C.—It’s early morning when the first cruise liner of the day approaches Vancouver’s waterfront. The vessel is one of more than 230 similar ships that will dock here this year, adding its passengers to the stream of 10 million overnight guests that the Western Canada city will host this year.

From now until the end of the summer season, Vancouver will be at 95 percent tourism capacity, according to Gwendal Castellan, manager of Sustainable Destination Development at Tourism Vancouver. That is presenting him and his colleagues with a once-unthinkable challenge: Do they just stop promoting the city?