Apr 16 2018 - 08:38

Five Places Struggling With Tourism Pressures Take A Break

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Five Places Struggling With Tourism Pressures Take A Break
Lebanon News

With tourism at its peak around the world, some places have been tackling too many visitors and struggling on many levels with tourism pressures.


In recent weeks, authorities in Thailand and the Philippines have called time on tourism in two of their most popular tourist destinations.


Since it was featured in 2000 film The Beach, Maya Bay needed an enforced break from the day trippers who have flocked there, Thai officials said.


Similarly, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Boracay Island will also be closing for a few months, having, in his words, become an overcrowded "cesspool".


And it does not stop there, various European cities, including Venice and Dubrovnik, have also complained of being swamped by visitors, as has the Isle of Skye in Scotland.


In 2017, Barcelona launched a crackdown on unlicensed accommodation rented via the AirBnB network, saying it was pushing up rental costs for locals.


Here are five destinations from around the world, implementing measures to deal with their own popularities:


Thailand: Maya Bay finally gets a rest


In March, Thai authorities announced they were closing the country's famed Maya Bay to allow it a brief respite. The secluded cove became famous as the picturesque setting for The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Since then between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors have been turning up on its shores daily.


Experts have said 77% of Maya Bay's coral is at serious risk, mainly from damage by boat anchors. The planned four-month break this year - from June to September - cannot fix that.


Thailand closed dozens of dive sites to tourists in 2011. Koh Yoong, in the Phi Phi island chain and Koh Tachai, in the Similan Islands National Park, have also been off-limits to visitors since mid-2016.


When Maya Beach reopens, it will have a new daily limit of 2,000 tourists a day and boats will no longer be allowed to cross the shallow reef. It will also close again for four months next year.


Italy: Cinque Terre tries technology


Tourists cannot get enough of the five brightly painted cliffside towns in northern Italy known as Cinque Terre. The area, which has about 5,000 residents, became a national park in 1999 and now receives more than two million tourists per year.


People come to hike the scenic paths that link the towns and the terrace vineyards. Over the years, the walkways have fallen into disrepair from erosion and overuse and causing injuries due to landslides.


There has been plenty of talk about imposing a limit on the number of visitors, but that has not yet happened.


Lately, park authorities have been trialling an app which tourists can download to see the number of people on the routes in real time. When a red warning sign shows, a path is overcrowded and visitors can then make up their minds if they want to join the throngs. In the future, they may trial virtual waiting lists.


Peru: Machu Picchu turns to time slots


Peru's ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is on the must-see list for many keen travelers. Its Inca Trail allows visitors to hike their way there, which many say is an even more fulfilling experience.


However, too many people and too many informal operators were leading to damaged routes, rubbish pile-ups and out-of-control campsites.


In 2005, the Peruvian government placed a limit on the number of people allowed to hike the trail per season. It is also closed every February for cleaning and maintenance.


Tourists have adapted by booking ahead, and tour companies have to abide by regulations to keep their allocated permits.


Last year, the authorities brought in new system, which involves buying a ticket for either the morning or the afternoon, in a bid to control the numbers.


South Korea: Jeju Island


Last year, the busiest flight route in the world was between South Korea's capital, Seoul, and Jeju island, a tourist destination about 90km off the mainland. People come to take in the volcanic landscapes, picturesque waterfalls - and an erotic amusement park, which is popular with honeymooners.


In 2017, almost 65,000 flights went between these two airports, working out at almost 180 per day. Annually, about 15 million tourists visit the island, according to the South China Morning Post.


This boom in tourism has left the island under 2,000 sq km with traffic jams, trash piles and juts too many damages.


Accordingly, the South Korean government is considering another airport in southern Jeju, which it thinks could triple the annual number of tourists to 45 million by 2035.


Colombia: Caño Cristales starts with a rule book


Colombia's Caño Cristales is a surreal site - a river that appears to run a whole spectrum of colors. Locals in the central Meta province call it the liquid rainbow.

After being formerly the heart of territory occupied by Farc guerrillas, meaning tourism - both foreign and domestic - was pretty much non-existent; the region started seeing visitors in recent years, after the 2016 peace deal was signed.


Caño Cristales does not see anywhere near the same amount of visitors as some of the other places on this list (about 16,000 in 2016), but due to an extremely delicate ecosystem, it does have a tough task of balancing an unprecedented influx.


There are concerns that more people in the area might risk an increase in pollution and damage the precious aquatic plants.


Unusually for an emerging destination, it has started off on the right foot by instigating a number of rules: no plastic bottles, no sunscreen or insect repellent in the water, no swimming in certain areas, no cigarettes, no feeding the fish. On arrival, visitors attend a briefing to ensure all of this is entirely clear.

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