People are Crazy in Love with these travel destinations.
When Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s video for APES**T debuted in 2018, the world stopped. OK, maybe not completely halted, but I think it’s safe to say that if they didn’t watch it, a decent amount of this planet’s population at least heard about; so much so, that Paris’ Louvre Museum, featured throughout the video, is reporting that record numbers of tourists have passed through its doors since the video debuted–10.2 million to be exact, up 2 million from 2017, the highest annual tourist count for any museum in history.
The “Beyoncé Effect”—a big up-tick in tourist numbers after a celebrity is associated with a place—can be found in more places than just the Louvre. Portraits of the Obamas by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald brought over one million visitors to the National Portrait Gallery who lined up just to see the portraits. After singer (and goddess) Rihanna became the face of Barbados’ 2013 tourism board campaign, annual visitors nearly doubled—from 60,000 to 100,000—between 2014 and 2015.
However, the Beyoncé Effect isn’t always positive. Justin Bieber’s 2015 music video I’ll Show You, filmed in Fjadrargljurfur Canyon, brought so many visitors to the Icelandic landmark’s fragile ecosystem that in 2017, the Environment Agency of Iceland announced that they would be closing the site until June 2019. Says agency advisor Daníel Freyr Jónsson, “there has been an increase of 50 percent to 80 percent between 2016, 2017 and 2018. The infrastructure is not set up to accommodate so many visitors.”
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We love Beyoncé, don’t get us wrong, but overtourism can make even The Louvre an uncomfortably-crowded place to visit. So we’d like to suggest a few alternatives. Let’s start with Fjadrargljurfur Canyon. While it recovers from Bieber Fever, consider heading to Stuðlagil Canyon in eastern Iceland. It’s equally enthralling, not nearly as crowded and its turquoise water and dreamlike basalt columns are the stuff wanderlust is made of.
Moving back toward Queen Bey, if you’re in Paris but you’d like to avoid the crowds at The Louvre, check out the small (yet no less impressive) Musée de l’Orangerie, home to one of Monet’s most famous paintings, or the Musée Jacquemart André, a small but opulent museum housed in a private home (or any one of these impressive museums in the City of Light). Don’t want to spend all of your time waiting in line at the National Portrait Gallery to see paintings of The Obamas? You could wait until the Obama Presidential Center finally opens, or check out the National Museum of African American History and Culture (also in Washington, D.C.), which houses a beautiful silver print of a photograph of the Obamas, taken long before they were presidential.