Italy to Limit Tourists to Cinque Terre

It’s about to get harder to visit Cinque Terre—but that might be a good thing

Colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre Lukasz Janyst, iStock
Manarola, Cinque Terre fotofojanini / iStock
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre tovfla / iStock
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre Fabio Michele Capelli / iStock
Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre Kenneth Wiedemann / iStock
Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre groveb / iStock
Corniglia, Cinque Terre
Corniglia, Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre FilippoBacci / iStock
Vernazza, Cinque Terre Deejpilot / iStock

Last year 2.5 million tourists made their way down the steep winding trails to Cinque Terre—the five picturesque fishing villages perched on the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea.

The centuries-old towns and their colorful buildings, which are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, have become a popular destination for cruise ships and bus tours. The impact of the booming tourist trade has transformed the picturesque backwater into crowded towns overwhelmed with tourists, and it's having a deleterious effect on the scenic Ligurian site.

Now, Italy's government has come up with a plan to slash the number of tourists by at least a million visitors in the years to come through a new ticketing system. As The Guardian reported, hopeful visitors will soon have to purchase tickets to visit the historic towns in advance. The roads that lead to the villages will also be outfitted with meters to gauge the number of tourists. Once the villages reach a set number of visitors, access to Cinque Terre will be cut off.

Tourist officials are developing an app for tourists that will reveal which villages are over-crowded to hopefully direct visitors to less crowded locales.

"We will certainly be criticized for this," Vittorio Alessandro, president of the Cinque Terre National Park, told Italian newspaper la Repubblica. "But for us it is a question of survival."

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Five Other Destinations That Currently Limit Visitors:

Galápagos Islands

To protect the islands' unique ecosystems, only 1,708 people are allowed in the Galápagos National Park at any given time.

Antarctica

To limit interference with the south pole's fragile ecosystem, tourism is severely limited. The Antarctic Treaty, signed by twelve countries including the United States, limits the number of people who can be on shore at any one time at one landing site to 100 people.

Lord Howe Island, Australia

The Australian island in the Tasman Sea offers lucky visitors exquisite white sand beaches and the chance to explore the world's southernmost coral reef. Visitors are capped at 400 at any one time.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This volcanic archipelago located off Brazil's northeast coast is both an UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park. A world-class scuba and snorkeling destination, access to the islands is limited to 460 visitors at a time.

Inca Trail, Peru

Only 200 tourist permits are issued each day for the 27-mile trail that ends at Machu Picchu.