Italian hotspots are trying to cope with ‘too many tourists’

Published on : Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ItalianItaly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with numerous tourist attractions. No wonder, it has huge number of tourists flocking in every year. But with so much of mass tourism, it is slowly becoming a danger to the locals.

Venice, Florence, Pompeii, Rome, Capri and, more recently, the Cinque Terre, are the most visited places in Italy.

But with so many tourists pouring in all these places, the locals are worried about the effect that it will have on the environment.

This summer, the total number of tourists coming in has already crossed record numbers. The travel authorities are urging the Government to start a plan so that congestion can be avoided.

The plan is being made by the Ministry of Culture along with the Italian Tourism Board (Enit).

Fabio Lazzerini, a director at Enit, told The Local, said, “We are working on a plan that will find ways to resolve the issue of overcrowded places. Some places have been thinking of limiting tourist access, in addition to taxes for entering town centres. The debate is still ongoing.”

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro has always acted as a leader and tried out all possible ways to find a solution to this issue.

According to Brugnaro, around 25 million flock into the Unesco World Heritage site each year, an enormous number which “risks flaring confrontation between tourists and residents”.

The mayor has opted for various strategies to make the city more ‘liveable’, like giving locals privileged access to vaporetti, or water buses.

But with huge numbers turning up again this year, he is at a loss, just like the other leaders of the tourist hubs.

This summer, till now, there has been an increase of 5 % in Venice, 5.6% in Florence, 9 % in Capri and around 20 percent in the Cinque Terre national park.

The number of tourists coming to Sardinia and Sicily has also increased considerably as Italians love to spend their holidays at home, because of terrorism threats in other places, and also foreigners choose Italy as their go-to destination over other places because of terrorism, according to Lazzerini.

The congestion creates issues for the country’s rail network, especially for the five fishing villages in Liguria’s Cinque Terre, where one cannot easily go by car.

Instead, the visitors take the train or cruiseship, hitting the footpaths that link Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, all of them located in the Unesco World Heritage national park.

In February, Cinque Terre authorities expressed their frustration saying that every year, around 2.5 million visitors were making life difficult for the locals and requested to restrict the number of tourists by asking them to purchase a special card before getting the access to the trails.

The aim of this plan, which was supposed to be executed this summer, but now seems to have been postponed was to bring down the number of tourists to 1.5 million a year. Fabrizia Pecunia, the mayor of Riomaggiore, feels that this kind of congestion “risked becoming a security and public order issue”.

In Capri, off the Amalfi coast, around four million people flock in ever year on ferries and hydrofoils. The mayor of the place, Gianni De Martini, says that he wants to ease out the coming of these visitors by allowing only one ferry every 20 minutes.

He said, “In Capri, we have exceeded our limits for sustainable tourist flows, we live among the problems of congestion which are doing irrepairable damage to our reputation.”

Florentines feel that somehow the Renaissance city is losing its charm character as tourists fill it up almost throughout the year.

According to Lazzerini, the cetral idea behind the tourism plan is to make the less popular destinations more popular in order to lessen congestion in well-trodden paths.

He said, “We have to work to raise the level of tourism in Italy – we need to attract visitors to other, less well-known destinations. Enit and the Ministry of Culture are working together to create a demand for other places. We also need to raise the profile of sites within major cities – for example, in Rome, most people will go to the Colosseum or Trevi Fountain, without knowing that there are plenty of other places worth seeing.”


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