>>>Vetoed for Tourism
El Nido is in the Philippine province of Palawan.

Vetoed for Tourism

The democratisation of tourism has an ugly side. An excessive number of visitors has led authorities to control and close of some the most popular spots on the planet. But alternatives are available.

he image of multicoloured houses on a cliff top, repeated thousands of times on social networks and in travel magazines has made Cinque Terre into an unmissable stop in Italy, the fifth most-visited country in the world. In 2015, two-and-a-half million people went there. Not that many compared to the 9.7 million visits to the Louvre Museum, Paris, but, too many for five small villages connected by a single road.

“It may seem a little eccentric to want to reduce the number of tourists, but for us, it is a matter of survival. People will doubtlessly criticise us, but we’re going to have to limit the number to 1.5 million,” explained Vittorio Alessandro, manager of Cinque Terre National Park, in La Repubblica newspaper. The restrictions, which began in the summer of 2016, include stopping people without entry tickets from getting on the train and driving on the road, once the daily visiting quota is complete. “Without any interventions, Cinque Terre will be stifled by such overwhelming tourism.” The alternative is to visit other charming villages nearby, like Tellaro, Sestri Levante, Lerici, Camogli and Portovenere.

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
An app tells you the number of visitors in each village in Cinque Terre, in real time.

Eternal Rome renovated

Bulgari has invested one-and-a-half million euros to restore the steps on Piazza di Spagna, one of the most popular tourist spots in Rome. To avoid future damage by tourists and the food and drink they bring, the luxury brand has asked for the landmark to be closed at night.

Cinque Terre isn’t the only place to have suffered the damaging effects of too many visitors. Coral bleaching has led to the sounding of the alarm of excessive tourism in the Marietas Islands, Mexican Pacific, and Koh Tachai Island, Thailand. The reason for the popularity of the Similan Islands, in the Andaman Sea, is transparent waters and coral reefs, where you can dive alongside manta rays and leopard sharks.

The annual closure from April to November wasn’t enough this time around. The authorities have prohibited visits until further notice. Those wishing to explore the beautiful beaches and seabeds of south Thailand can visit lesser-known islands, like Koh Racha Yai and Koh Lanta.

Snorkelling at Koh Tachai, Thailand
Scuba divers are allowed into certain parts of Koh Tachai, but tour operators could lose their license if they land on the island.

One piece of good news is that closure of the Marietas Islands is just temporary, and 50% of the damaged underwater wonders has already been recovered. However, entry to the Playa de Amor, one of the biggest attractions in this part of the Riviera Nayarit will be limited to 116 people a day, from Wednesday to Sunday. The alternative sustainable activity is a new path on Isla Larga, ideal for birdwatching.

Playa de Amor or Hidden Beach
Visitors can stay on Playa de Amor, also known as Hidden Beach, for just 30 minutes.

The Philippines is still considered an emerging Asian destination, but it is already experiencing similar situations. The authorities are considering closing Shimizu Island, a popular snorkelling enclave in Bacuit Bay, for four to six years. They will allow diving in six other places around El Nido, the most touristy town in the area, which receives 80,000 visitors each year. The transient beauty of nature has never been clearer.

Related articles

The Alpine splendour of the Grand Train Tour

Who hasn’t dreamed of travelling through lush green scenery, admiring crystal-clear lakes and picture postcard villages? Travelling through the Swiss...

“I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.”

Jon Bowles has combined his passion for photography with his profession as a pilot. He knows he has “a job...

Mexico’s sacred giant

Bernal Peak has always attracted attention, from the dinosaurs that roamed its slopes when it was an active volcano to...

Texas in a natural state

Forget all about ranches, rodeos and cowboy boots. We promise we won’t say a word about them when we talk...