Culture

Italy’s Cinque Terre Will Soon Limit Its Number Of Visitors

The popular destination will begin curbing tourism in an effort to preserve the villages.

Italian officials have begun taking active measures to limit the number of visitors to the famed Italian coastal region of Cinque Terre due to serious concerns over preservation and deterioration. Announced this week, visitors to the UN Heritage Listed site will need to buy a ticket ahead of time in order to visit each of Cinque Terre’s five towns.

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If you’ve visited this centuries-old seaside region in recent years, you may have noticed these picturesque towns are pretty much always swarming with tourists – and it’s no wonder why. Cinque Terre, known for its dramatic cliffs, stunning harbour and pastel coloured houses, is also home to some of the best food and wine in the Mediterranean (their signature dish is pesto, FYI).

The onslaught of tourists, however, is overwhelming the residents. Local officials site cruise ships as one of their main contenders, with huge boats porting nearby and the small towns inundated by hoards of camera-wielding visitors.

In an effort to call attention to the saturated tourist market, residents of Cinque Terre started an online petition to get numbers down. In 2015 alone, around 2.5 million people walked those hallowed steps along the coast, hence the need for a sustainable solution.

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The aim is to get the numbers down to 1.5 million people per year, and the ambitious ticketing system is set to begin this summer. Vittorio Alessandro, president of the Cinque Terre Park told la Repubblica, “It may seem eccentric, even when the trend is to increase tourism… but for us it’s now a matter of survival.”

The National Park authorities are also considering introducing an app which shoes when each village is overcrowded. They would use a “traffic light” system which would indicate green for when it’s relatively empty, yellow for when it’s moderately busy and red for when it’s packed.

Cinque Terre joins a list of other historical sites limiting visitors in an effort to protect the deterioration. Peru’s Machu Picchu, another UN Heritage Site, has recently put in place daily visitor limits, as well as designating set trails to help preserve the ancient ruins. They even encourage people to check out the historical site from the comfort of their own home using Google Street View.

Keen on being one of the lucky 1.5 million that visit this year? Be prepared. Start planning your European getaway with Qantas.