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Ban on numbers visiting
the world's top sites

February 2017

tourists in the Vatican

Do you love to travel? At our age travelling is hugely popular but, with so many people in the world visiting all the top places, it means some tourist hot spots are becoming...well full.

Crowds at the big tourist attractions around the world can spoil the enjoyment and increasingly drastic actions are being taken to avoid the throngs.  Some tours get their groups up well before the crack of dawn so they can reach the Taj Mahal at sun rise – and this is not just for the beauty of the time of day. It is to beat the hoards that will soon be gathering all around the fabulous landmark building, destroying the peace that is part of the attraction and also spoiling those photo opportunities.

Now some areas are going one step further and restricting the number of tourists. For instance, Cinque Terre is an area covering five little fishing villages on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region. The five picturesque villages are on a rugged coastline where local inhabitants have built charming terraces on the very steep cliffs overlooking the sea.

It is very picturesque region that is a UNESCO world heritage site and has been attracting around 2.5 million tourists every year. But the locals feel they have been swamped by tourists, and the local areas authorities have now set a fixed maximum on the number of tourists who can visit every day.

Visitors will have to buy a ticket to enter and the numbers may vary depending on the weather. The local President says this limitation is for safety too, especially on some of the footpaths.

Tourism brings in lots of welcome revenue of course, but like other places authorities are also beginning to think there is a limit.

Barcelona is another tourist spot set to take drastic action against tourism. This fascinating city on the eastern coast of Spain attracts over 30 million visitors a year which clearly swamps the 1.6 million local residents.

Now there is a new law coming in that will limit the number of beds available in hotel rooms and tourist flats and villas. New regulations are also planned on the building of new hotels and the issuing of licenses for new tourist apartments.

Daniel Pardo from the Barcelona Neighbourhood Assembly for Sustainable Tourism has said the plan so far isn’t perfect but it is a good start to tackle the problem of severe overcrowding in the city. They are also looking at the number of big cruise ships allowed to visit the area.

There are many other regions where numbers have hit maximum. The Seychelles are planning on taking action to restrict accommodation and eventually put a cap on the number of visitors, believing that their unique appeal and beauty will be destroyed if the place becomes swamped with tourists.

Swamped with tourists is not a phrase bandied about lightly. The tiny and beautiful Greek island of Santorini can get 10,000 or more visits a day, enhanced by the 636 cruise ships that stop off every year.  From this year there is a cap that is planned to restrict tourist numbers down to 8,000 a day but other plans are being considered on how to protect this little island.

Restrictions are also coming into place here in the UK. Clovelly for instance, that charming little village that cascades down the steep north Cornish coast, charges a fee for all visitors. Entrance is past a ticket office – although of course residents are exempt.

Authorities across the world are now looking at the idea of limiting visitor numbers for safety reasons and also because they feel the appeal of the tourist attractions and regions are being spoilt by the sheer numbers.

Anyone who has been herded through the Sistine Chapel or even The Tower of London with its three million visitors every year can understand the problems that now exist around the world’s most popular destinations.

It could all well be the start of a very new era in tourism.

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