In what is a stunning first in the area of major tourist attractions and locales, Italy’s famed Cinque Terre is set to start limiting the amount of people that can visit for the upcoming busy season. Rather than allow an unending stream of honeymooners, students, and other tourists looking for a relaxing time away from their troubles to enjoy the view, the five interconnecting towns that make up the area are halting all visitors after 1.5 million people, with tickets required for all who wish to enter. That figure is significantly lower than the estimated 2.5 million people who made the journey to the colorful seaside towns this year. According to The Guardian,
Residents say day-trippers from cruise ships docking at nearby ports have overwhelmed their communities and the head of the Cinque Terre park said no more than 1.5 million visitors would be let in this year.
Cruise ships are a major problem in many parts of Italy right now, with the huge ships and tourist numbers also contributing significantly to the erosion of Venice and massive amounts of visitors to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast as well. President of the park Vittorio Alessandro admitted that “we will certainly be criticised for this, but for us it is a question of survival”, which is actually a noble stance to take. Protecting the environment is difficult as it is, and much harder when it is a question of turning down millions (and eventually billions) of dollars in tourist revenue in favor of protecting the landscape and surrounding hills. Even so, this is an unprecedented move for one of Italy’s major areas and a destination for travelers worldwide.
Cinque Terre, located on the Italian Riviera a few hours below Torino, are five small interlinked towns on the coast that are easily recognizable by their colorful houses and boats nestled into the hillsides of Italy. Trails through the hills connect each town, which is about a three to five hour hike total for those who attempt it all at once. Tickets are already required to enter the trail, which keeps track of how many people traverse it per day and year. Those trails are already easily susceptible to landslides before even considering the effect of hikers roaming through at all times of year.
For anyone who has not traveled to Cinque Terre, it is one of the still mostly authentic Italian tourist traps available. Each town has its own identity and feel, despite all of them being within a few miles of coast line. People can hike, take small ferries, or ride a train through the mountains to travel from town to town. To limit the opportunity for others to make memories is an unfortunate byproduct of the rising popularity of the area, even if it is an incredibly necessary move to protect the integrity of the land and the overall atmosphere of the region.
Fortunately, there are ways for people to find out if they will be able to gain entry when they plan to visit so they do not waste their time or money only to be disappointed.
Roads leading to the area are being fitted with devices to gauge the number of people heading to the villages and once a certain number has been reached, access will be closed.
Tickets will be sold ahead of time online and an app created for tourists to show which of the villages are most congested.
One heartening sign is that part of the plan to limit tourists also looks to the future and uses tech to track and alert people when crowds reach a maximum limit. That way tourists can not only plan ahead and avoid getting stuck in the hotels of La Spezia, a larger city nearby, but know which towns may be getting a little less love than others and purposely head to a more open and enjoyable area rather than a beach crawling with newlyweds and crazed children.
The plan may be a depressing sign for the future of tourism and travel as a whole, but the leadership in Cinque Terre are clearly an informed and intelligent group based on the way they have been handling the decision to put the system in place. Those aspects above all will be a major key as to whether this pans out in the area’s favor or not.
(via The Guardian)