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 have also created 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.”